The UK Health Security Agency has produced new guidelines to help employers manage COVID in the workplace.
Commenting on the launch of the new guidelines, Claire Clifford, director of people, culture and skills at EIC said: “As we enter the next phase of the pandemic, there are actions that can be taken to reduce the risk of catching COVID and passing it on to others. These have the added bonus of reducing the spread of other respiratory infections like flu which can also cause serious illness.”
Read the guidance in full on gov.uk or review our summary of the major points below.
Employers, in accordance with their existing legal obligations, may wish to consider how best to support and enable staff who wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and other diseases. The guidance includes links to a guide for employers and vaccines that are available – for free – through the NHS.
Letting in fresh air
Bringing in fresh air to occupied spaces t helps to reduce the concentration of respiratory particles, lowering the risk of airborne transmission of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.
When someone with an infection breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release respiratory particles which can contain the virus. These particles can come into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth, or breathed in by another person. It is also possible to pass on a respiratory infection between people who do not have close contact, especially if they are in a crowded and/or poorly ventilated space where smaller virus particles can stay suspended in the air for some time.
These virus-containing particles can also land on surfaces where the virus can be passed from person to person via touch. In general, the risk of catching or passing on a respiratory infection is highest when in close contact with someone who is infected.
Maintaining a clean workplace
Keeping workplaces clean reduces the risk of infection and in turn can reduce sickness in the workforce. It’s especially important to clean high-touch surfaces, such as door handles, desk spaces and shared kitchen facilities. Staff members can be key in maintaining a clean working environment by providing easily accessible cleaning products, soap and hot water, and/or sanitiser.
Outbreaks in the workplace
There is currently no requirement in the UK to report workplace outbreaks of respiratory infections to your local public health team. However, if you experience high levels of people with respiratory symptoms in your workplace, the actions detailed in the guidance will help to reduce the spread.
The requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their health and safety risk assessment has been removed. Employers may, however, choose to continue to cover COVID-19 in their risk assessments.