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COVID-19: What should employers be doing to keep employees safe?

As the government relaxes lockdown measures and encourages those unable to work remotely to return to work, this raises issues and questions relating to health and safety in the workplace.

An employer has a duty of care to ensure their employees are safe whilst at work. This means employers have to carry out a risk assessment and take appropriate steps, which may include some or all of the following measures.

Social distancing measures:

  • Encouraging a dialogue with employees about the outcome of risk assessments
  • Reorganising the workplace to ensure the workforce is at least two metres apart. Where social distancing is not possible, employers should provide PPE such as masks and screens and limit activity time or reconsider business needs
  • Staggering arrival, departure and break times to ensure building entrances and exits are clear. One-way systems may be introduced in offices and workspaces to limit contact
  • Introducing rotas and considering ‘fixed teams’ to limit the risk of transmission
  • Defining the number of customers within a store or office (where guidance allows) to enable social distancing to safely take place. Contactless payments should be encouraged, where applicable
  • Keeping activity times as short as possible if work must be carried out in someone’s home (for example, carers, cleaners, electricians and plumbers)

Regular sanitisation and cleaning measures:

  • Implementing a strict and regular cleaning schedule, including door handles, surfaces and communal areas such as kitchen facilities and bathrooms
  • Supporting the workforce with regular and thorough handwashing routines, including providing handwash and hand sanitiser
  • Sanitising shared tools and equipment after each use
  • Discouraging the use of ‘hot desks’ where possible and sanitising workstations between shifts where it is not possible. Similarly, shared vehicles should be cleaned between each user

Despite the guidance, some employees may be asked to return to work in unsafe conditions. Our experienced personal injury team can help you claim compensation if your employer hasn’t provided adequate protective equipment or put in place measures to protect your health and safety in the workplace. For confidential advice, please call 0113 232 1030 or email personal.injury@emsleys.co.uk.

Will Armstrong

Written by

Will Armstrong

Notary Public and Personal Injury

Will is a solicitor with over 8 years’ experience. He works within our Personal Injury team, specialising in claims for accidents on the highway. Will has also recently qualified as a Notary Public and can validate documents for international transactions.

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