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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 Government guidance on GOV.UK Government COVID-19 Response Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 

To keep update to date with the latest Government Updates for Workplaces visit Latest Workplaces COVID Updates

If you have any questions about COVID-19 related workplace health and safety, please contact us by completing our online contact form.

Winter and COVID-19 - Ensuring Good Ventilation

As Winter approaches South Holland District Council and HSE are reminding businesses 

Alongside cleaning, hygiene, hand washing, good ventilation is one of the best recognised ways to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 within the district.

As COVID-19 spreads through the air, the virus can build up more poorly ventilated areas, increasing the risk of infection.  It is a legal requirement for employers to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air (ventilation) in enclosed areas of workplaces.

Minimising the fresh air in a space can be done by

  • natural ventilation - relying on passive air flow through windows, doors and air vents that can be fully or partially opened.
  • mechanical ventilation - using fans, ducts to bring fresh air in from the outside or,
  • a combination of  natural and mechanical ventilation. 

Update guidance and information can be found on the following link to HSE's website HSE COVID-19 Ventilation Guidance

It is recognised that this guidance may cause conflicts with workplace temperatures therefore both must be included within your risk assessment. The assessment should state any extra controls which you will put in place to ensure employees are comfortable i.e. extra heating, increased clothing, hot drinks etc.

Lateral Flow Tests

For lateral flow tests please see the following links:

Working safely during the COVID-19 outbreak

The Government has 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.

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).