New coronavirus guidelines are available for the UK manufacturing industry to help get businesses back up and running as safely as possible.
This follows the prime minister Boris Johnson setting out steps to overcome the pandemic and restart the economy.
The government consulted approximately 250 stakeholders in preparing the guidance, developed with input from firms, unions, industry bodies and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The new guidance covers eight workplace settings which are allowed to be open, with one category covering ‘Factories, plants and warehouses’. Read the specific government guidelines for employers in the manufacturing industry here.
Key steps to make shopfloors safe in the pandemic
This sets out practical steps for businesses focused on five key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:
The government has said all reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. But those who cannot work from home – as is the case for the majority in the manufacturing industry – should go to work. The government is advising employees to speak to their employer about when their workplace will open.
Carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions. This guidance operates within current health and safety employment and equalities legislation and employers will need to carry out Covid-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and all businesses with over 50 employees are expected to do so.
Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain 2m distances between people by staggering start times, creating one way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.
Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage the risk of transmission – employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.
Reinforcing cleaning processes: Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.
A downloadable notice can be accessed here, which employers should display in their workplaces to show their employees, customers and other visitors that they have followed this guidance.