Working Safely During Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The UK Government has issued advice for a range of businesses to help them to work safely during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
This guide has been compiled to help employers, contractors and the self-employed keep themselves and their employees safe when this involves going into other people's homes. The advice is not intended for community-based health or social care workers.
Anyone that can, should continue to work from home. But when your business needs you or your workers to go into someone's home, you can do so as long as you obey guidance on social distancing as much as possible.
To help you decide which actions to take, you need to carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for other health and safety related hazards. You need to think about the risks that workers face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.Workplace Risk Assessments Risk Assessment Form
These recommendations are in addition to existing legal obligations, including those relating to health and safety. You must continue to comply with existing obligations as far as possible. This includes your duties to individuals with protected characteristics. For example, expectant mothers are, as always, entitled to suspension on full pay if suitable roles cannot be found.
Delivery drivers and others that are momentarily at the door will have less contact but their ways of working need to be given thought too. For example, packages can be left outside rather than handed over. Similarly, some people who work outside on their own, for example gardeners and window cleaners can more easily distance themselves but still need to be careful about any interactions with the household and contact with surfaces.
People who are clinically vulnerable should be considered separately but be careful not to discriminate against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, sex or disability.
In an emergency, for example an accident, fire or break-in, people don't have to stay two metres apart if that would be unsafe.
First consider whether that particular activity can be avoided altogether or done in a different way to avoid the need to go into people's homes altogether. Can the work be done remotely instead of physically, such as consultations by phone or video?
It's recognised that often there aren't alternatives to in-home services. In which case workers need to adapt to work in a socially distant way. Some aspects of the job may still be able to be done differently, to reduce contact and/or the number of visits. For example, can discussions about the work, exchange of documentation and payments be done using electronic methods? Many tradespeople will be able to use photos or video alongside a description to provide an accurate quote.
Ensure your client understands the uncertain nature of working at this time and that you've communicated any assumptions that you've made in timings, price and quality assurances to them.
In addition to following general advice and extra hygiene measures to reduce the risks of transmission, workers going into other people's home should:
You should question whether that task needs to be done for the business to operate or to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household. If that task does still need to be carried out, then extra measures should be taken to reduce the risk of workers being exposed to COVID-19:
If the risks are still high it may be that business operation has to be suspended until circumstances change. If people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then it may not be safe. No one should be obliged to work in an unsafe environment.
Communicate with residents before going to do any work, to discuss how face-to-face contact can be minimised. Discussing the working environment and practices in advance helps to reduce the risks for everyone and prevent mishaps.
Once the job is complete, ask households to let you know if anyone develops any symptoms of Coronavirus within 7 days, so workers can take appropriate precautions for themselves and anyone they've since been in contact with. If you or your workers experience symptoms they are now eligible for Coronavirus testing.
If a job needs more than one worker, thought needs to be given as to how workers will operate together. You should also keep a temporary record of your staff shift patterns for 21 days to assist the government's Test and Trace service. Some suggestions to limit contact include:
Similarly, the health of householders needs to be respected. There are steps you can take that help to protect them as well as you.
It's important to engage with workers, (including through trades unions or employee representative groups) to monitor and understand any unforeseen impacts of changes to their normal working practices.
Employers and agencies should keep in touch with workers who they might usually meet with face-to-face. Talk about their working arrangements, including their welfare, mental and physical health and personal security. Workers who you normally have little personal contact with are also likely to need additional support in these challenging times. This could include access to employee assistance programmes, union support schemes and other government and third sector mental wellbeing resources.
Work carried out in people's homes can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and is not showing coronavirus symptoms and neither they nor any of their household are self-isolating.
In Wales work can also be carried out in people's homes, provided that the tradesperson and household have no symptoms. As in England all reasonable steps must be taken to help workers remain two metres apart from others (both members of the household and each other). This is enforced as part of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020.
In Northern Ireland working in people's homes is permitted subject to following legal requirements and best practice arrangements. You are advised to keep visits short, minimise all physical contact and sanitise any surfaces you touch before you leave. Use any protective equipment provided, where this is required. The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020.
In the Republic of Ireland work in homes can continue whilst following physical distancing, hand hygiene guidance and respiratory etiquette and ensuring work areas are cleaned to reduce the risk of exposure COVID-19.
For further up-to-date advice for businesses in each of the devolved regions of the UK, please see guidance set by the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.
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