COVID-19: workplace health and safety

For the latest COVID-19 health and safety advice and guidance for your business or workplace, please visit the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website and the guidance from GOV.UK on working safely during coronavirus.

If you have any questions about COVID-19 related workplace health and safety, please contact us on or call 01775 761161 and ask to be transferred to the Food, Health and Safety Team.

Working safely during the COVID-19 outbreak

The Government have produced guidance to help employers, employees and those who are self-employed to understand how to work safely during coronavirus (please note, the guidance applies to England only). The guidance covers a range of different types of work and environments. Some businesses may have more than one type of workplace such as an office, factory or fleet of vehicles, so will need to consider using more than one of the guides. Further guidance will be available as more businesses are able to reopen.

There is different guidance to help prepare for the reopening of educational and childcare settings and public transport operators.

Get COVID-19 secure

View the guidance from GOV.UK for restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services to keep workers and customers safe during COVID-19. There is also guidance available for cleaning in non-healthcare settings during COVID-19.

COVID-19 workplace risk assessments

All employers have a legal duty to complete risk assessments of their workplaces, regardless of how many people are employed. Employers must also consider how their business and workplaces affect those not in their employment as part of their risk assessment, such as visits by members of the public or contractors, for example. The HSE website has a helpful guide that details how to carry out a risk assessment of a business.

We all assess risk on a daily basis, it's a natural part of human behaviour, for example we 'stop, look and listen' before crossing a road. The decision to cross a road is a risk assessment, we naturally consider what to do to cross a road safely by checking the road is clear and estimating the time you have to cross the road safely. The same skills are used when conducting a workplace risk assessment.

Recording significant findings of risk assessments

Businesses are legally required to record findings of their risk assessments if they employ more than five people. 

Businesses who employ less than five people are legally required to carry out risk assessments of their workplace/s, but are not required to record their findings. However, it is recommended that businesses keep a record of any significant findings to evidence that risk assessments were completed. Keeping a record can act as a safeguard in the event of a workplace accident or insurance claim, as it can show what issues a business has identified as part of their risk assessments and any actions the business have taken as a result of their findings. 

More information on recording risk assessment information can be found on the HSE website.

Legionella management

Those who have a duty to identify and control risks associated with Legionella are:

  • employers*
  • self-employed*
  • people in control of premises, such as landlords.

*The number of employees is irrelevant for Legionella management. Employers aren't required to record the system you use, however if you employ more than five people it is recommended that a written record is kept.

If a building is closed or has had reduced occupancy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, water system stagnation can occur due to its lack of use which increases the risk of Legionnaires' disease. Due to this increased risk, the HSE has published new guidance on the risks of Legionella during the coronavirus outbreak.

Health and safety policy

Businesses that employ more than five people are legally required to have a written health and safety policy. The HSE website has guidance to help businesses prepare a health and safety policy and how to write a health and safety policy.

Businesses who employ less than 5 people are not legally required to write a Health and Safety Policy, but it is a useful tool to help a business check they have procedures in place to ensure compliance with all Health and Safety Law. For example, reporting of certain accidents to employees/member of the public, or even an infectious disease, known as Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).