Derry City & Strabane - Environmental Health
Health & Community Wellbeing




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COVID-19 – Guidance for Retail Premises

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Derry City and Strabane District Council is seeking your support as an employer to control the risks and comply with the Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978 which includes your duty to protect yourself, your staff and any other person who could be affected by your business (i.e. customers, delivery staff etc.) from the risks posed by the coronavirus.

New guidelines ‘Coronavirus: Workplace safety guidelines and social distancing’ was published on the 10th June 2020 and can be accessed at 

The British Retail Consortium have issued guidance on social distancing in retail stores and warehouses which can be accessed at:

A practical guide to making workplaces safer can be accessed at:

The Government have produced guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments which can be accessed at:


The Health and Safety Executive have produced a short guide on working safely during the coronavirus outbreak which can be accessed at:

As every business is different - you should consider:

  • Hazards and control measures that are specific to your business and the control measures required to keep staff and members of the public safe and healthy. 
  •  Information, instruction, training and supervision required to ensure that staff understand and follow the controls required.
  • Management systems to ensure staff are following the controls in your risk assessment and the advice within the various coronavirus guidance documents.


The following 5 key points, while not exhaustive, are examples of the type of matters that you must consider.  You must ensure that any control measures that you implement are relevant to your business activities, are suitable and sufficient and are implemented effectively on an on-going basis.

5 steps to working safely

1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment

In order to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect your staff and others, you must assess the risks associated with your activities and implement effective control measures. To assist you with this process, a coronavirus related risk assessment template has been created by HSENI which can be downloaded at:

You must consult with your workers, trade unions, (where they are in place) and share the results of the risk assessment with your employees and anyone else who is relevant and ensure control measures remain effective.


2. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures

You should increase the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning by encouraging people to follow the guidance on hand washing and hygiene . You should provide hand sanitiser around the workplace, in addition to washrooms.  Equipment and surfaces that are touched regularly, should be frequently cleaned and disinfected, taking care not to spread any potential contamination.  Further advice on cleaning is available from:

You should set clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets and provide hand drying facilities – either paper towels or electrical dryers. Where possible, allocate work equipment to one employee only.


3. Help people to work from home

All reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. You must ensure that employees working from home are included in all necessary communication and you must look after their physical and mental wellbeing.


4. Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible

You must ensure a distance of two metres between all persons – this includes between employees, between customers, between employees and customers and any other visitors (e.g. delivery personnel). 

You should consider putting up signs to remind workers and visitors of social distancing guidance.  Sharing workstations should be avoided, where possible.

You should use floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people keep to a 2m distance.  You may wish to arrange one-way traffic through the workplace and this may need to be extended to outside your premises as necessary.  You may need to have an employee positioned at the door to control numbers within your premises to enable social distancing.  The maximum number of persons that your premises can safely hold, should be identified within your risk assessment.  If possible, consider switching to seeing visitors by appointment.

Information on workplace safety guidelines and social distancing can be accessed at


5. Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk

Where it’s not possible for people to be 2m apart, you should do everything practical to manage the transmission risk by:


  • considering whether an activity needs to continue for the business to operate;
  • keeping the activity time involved as short as possible;
  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other;
  • using back-to-back or side-to-side working whenever possible;
  • staggering arrival and departure times.
  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’.


Personal Protective Equipment

PPE may be identified by your risk assessment as an additional control.  The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993 require that PPE is suitable and appropriate to prevent or control the risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.  It must be capable of being fitted correctly and employees must be adequately informed, instructed and trained in its use and removal to reduce the risk of contamination.  It must be maintained and replaced as appropriate.  If reusable, it must be cleaned and disinfected appropriately and frequently.  All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that any PPE is properly used and disposed of in the appropriate manner.  Where suitable PPE is required for employees to carry out their work activities safely, employers must provide this free of charge and ensure there is enough available.  Examples, may include: gloves, face masks, aprons etc.  Further general information on PPE is available from:


Statutory Inspections (Lifting Equipment, Pressure systems, Gas etc.)

Whilst the requirements for carrying out thorough examination and testing of work equipment remain the same, it is acknowledged that there may be difficulties in arranging statutory inspections.  Many insurance inspection bodies are continuing to operate in consultation with their clients.  You still have a legal obligation to ensure equipment is safe to use by continuing to carry out plant maintenance and internal inspection processes as normal.  Specific advice should be sought from your insurer as you still have responsibility to ensure equipment is safe to use.  Where there are concerns about equipment it must be taken out of service immediately. Further information is available from the HSENI website at



You need to manage the risk from legionella bacteria that may be present in the hot and cold water system of your building or from any other source of water used as part of your business activities.  HSENI have produced specific guidance for Managing legionella during COVID-19 lockdown.  Where your business has been closed or scaled down, you must address the issue of stagnation, routine checks and maintenance that may not have taken place.  Water dosing may be required, temperature checks, cleaning and disinfection need to be reviewed.    The control and management of legionella is dealt with more specifically in Legionnaires' disease. The control of legionella bacteria in water systems, Approved Code of Practice and guidance (L8).  Further information can be found within HSE guidance INDG458 Legionnaires’ disease, A brief guide for dutyholders


Vulnerable Employees

Employees from vulnerable groups should follow the government’s advice available from:


Management Arrangements

It is important to keep all employees updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace.  Ensure all employee contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date.  Ensure managers and supervisors know how to spot symptoms of COVID-19 and are clear on any relevant processes, such as sickness reporting and appropriate procedures if someone in the workplace is potentially infected or displaying symptoms. If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home, advised to stay at home and follow the public health advice available from:



It is absolutely essential that everyone follows the ongoing advice and rules set down by government to deal with and prevent the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).  Further information and guidance is available from the links below:


Daily Updated list of Related Guidance:               

The HSE have also published information and guidance on Coronavirus at:  

Examples of Business Support Information:  




The Council’s Business Team can also be contacted for further support at:

Please Note: The above are not an exhaustive list of example precautions and guidance and it is your responsibility to do all that is required in your particular circumstances, to ensure your efforts are effective.

Further information and guidance on Coronavirus (Covid-19) and on general health and safety, is available from our team’s website at: and

During this difficult time, we will continue to support and provide assistance to all essential businesses.  Should you wish to discuss any matter with a member of the Health & Safety and Consumer Protection Team, please do not hesitate to contact us on 028 71 253253 or by email at