This is HSE's advice for businesses to manage the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace, based on HSC's general public health principles.
Healthcare workers, residential and care facilities
- There are clear health and safety requirements to protect workers who come into contact with infectious micro-organisms such as coronavirus either as a direct consequence of their work e.g. those who carry out research work on the virus, or else may be exposed in the course of their work e.g. healthcare workers caring for infectious patients. Please follow this link for advice from the UK Government and Public Health England for health care workers and care facilities.
- Individuals are at risk from COVID-19 if they are in close contact with someone who has the disease or with objects that have been contaminated by infectious material e.g. droplets from coughs and sneezes on surfaces, used tissues/clothing etc. This means that there may be other workers (e.g. cleaners; prison staff or residential care workers in direct contact with sick people) to whom Health and Safety law applies. Where such direct contact is foreseeable, employers should carry out a risk assessment and put preventative measures and/or controls in place as appropriate. General advice on assessing and controlling the risks from infection of COVID-19 at work can be found on the UK government website.
- Please note, COVID-19 is a reportable disease, if an employee is infected as a result of their work. You must report only when the diagnosis has been confirmed by a pathology test (PCR testing).
Other workplaces and work activities
- Since 20 June 2020, a 'Bailiwick bubble' has been in force. Social distancing and controlled and uncontrolled environments are no longer be required. However, we recommend that individuals still keep a diary of their activities to assist with contact tracing if this was ever needed.
- Whilst strict measures for distancing are no longer required, the community is asked to 'respect my personal space' and maintain a distance where possible. This is in addition to good respiratory etiquette (catch it, bin it, kill it) and frequent hand washing for a minimum of 20 seconds
- Workplaces can open without restrictions. Please follow this link for guidance on safe home working.
- The routine use of gloves, surgical masks or FFP3 respirators is not currently recommended for workplaces, but may be appropriate in some healthcare settings and for travel on public transport, or by sea and air.
- Good hand hygiene through regular hand washing with soap and water is the most effective way to prevent contamination and is preferred to the use of alcohol hand-gel, which should only be used where running water is not available (eg. deliveries).
- Although COVID-19 is normally a reportable disease, it is unlikely that exposure in non healthcare settings would be reportable, as any infection would be incidental to social contact, rather than the work activity.
Hand washing and alcohol hand gel / hand sanitiser use
- - PHE advises that:
- "The best way to protect yourself from infections like coronavirus is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water. If soap or water aren't available and your hands are visibly clean then sanitiser gel can be used. Proper hand washing is the most effective method and this should be your first choice".
- - It is essential to wash your hands more often, especially:
- when you get to work or arrive home
- after you blow your nose, cough or sneeze
- before you eat or handle food
- - You should wash your hands for 20 seconds, using soap and water, or hand sanitiser only as a last resort when soap and water are not available.
- - Surface sanitisers and other professional or household cleaning liquids, sprays or wipes are not suitable for hand sanitising. They are likely to irritate the skin and often require a long contact time to be effective. If you need to use hand sanitiser at all, it needs to contain a minimum of 60% alcohol and be formulated for use on human skin. Alcohol-free alternatives are also available.
Use of Respiratory Protective Equipment and face-fitting
- PPE and RPE will need to be:
- Correctly marked;
- Accompanied by an EU Declaration of Conformity; and
- Certified where required.
- Marking is dependent on the type of PPE or RPE, but some essential information is always required:
- Packaging must display the correct marking, including the CE marking, standard complied with, category of protection and, for FFP2 and FFP3, a notified body number:
- For FFP2 and FFP3 respirators, the marking must also be on each mask, eg. CE EN 149:2001+A1:2009 FFP2 NR NBxxxx.
- For fluid repellant surgical masks, there must be an indication on the packaging with the standard and type, eg. CE EN 14683:2019 Type IIR.
- For PPE / RPE made within the EU or UK, the name and address of the EU-based manufacturer must be displayed.
- For PPE / RPE made outside the EU or UK, the name and address of the EU-based importer must be displayed under an EC REP marking.
- EU Declaration of Conformity
- Any PPE / RPE manufactured in the EU, UK or imported into the EU or UK must be accompanied by an EU Declaration of Conformity (self-certification of which standard compliance is claimed with - eg. EN 149:2001+A1:2009, including the notified body number and / or EU type-examination certificate reference. Electronic certificates are acceptable and should be obtained from the manufacturer, or EU-based importer.
- FFP2 and FFP3 respirators must be covered by an EU type-examination certificate, design-examination certificate or a quality management system certificate from a notified body, which is approved to issue the certificate against the Personal Protective Equipment Regulation (EU) 2016/425 (list of 112 acceptable notified bodies https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/nando/index.cfm?fuseaction=directive.notifiedbody&dir_id=155501).
- Face fit test
- Tight-fitting respirators (such as disposable FFP3 masks and reusable half masks) rely on having a good seal with the wearer's face. A face fit test should be carried out to ensure the respiratory protective equipment (RPE) can protect the wearer.
- Please follow this link for advice on face fitting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Under section 29A of the Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 1987 as amended, the Chief Health and Safety Officer may grant certificates of exemption from certain health and safety requirements in limited circumstances:
- Periodic thorough examination and testing of lifting equipment and pressure vessels (when surveying engineers cannot travel to Guernsey);
- Testing of fixed electrical installations (when test engineers cannot travel to Guernsey);
- Gas safety test for gas appliances (when the premises are occupied by people who are self-isolating or shielding);
- Weekly scaffold inspections (when scaffold inspectors cannot travel to Guernsey or sites are closed for public health or health protection measures).
- The expiry dates of diving medical certificates, asbestos medical certificates, asbestos DOP certificates, and first-aid at work certificates were also extended until at least 01 July 2020. Further extensions may be considered, you need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to explain your circumstances.
Conditions of exemptions
- Exemption certificates are valid for a limited period, which will be stated on the certificate, and a another application is required if a further exemption is required.
- Exemption certificates are specific to the equipment, location or installation. They do not exempt you from other health and safety requirements not covered by the certificate.
- The equipment, installation or appliance must be kept in a safe condition and good working order, even where an exemption from inspection, testing or thorough examination is granted.
How to apply for an exemption
- An application must be made online by emailing email@example.com and providing:
- the detail of the equipment or installation for which the exemption is sought;
- the location of such equipment, and whether it is fixed or mobile (for lifting equipment);
- the reason why it cannot be thoroughly examined, tested or inspected, as the case may be;
- evidence of the last thorough examination, testing or inspections showing the expiry date;
- evidence that the equipment is currently maintained in a safe condition and good working order.
- HSE will prioritise applications for exemption for equipment falling due within the next 5 working days.