Guidance for Close Contact Services
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, contractors etc.) from the risks posed by the coronavirus.
Government Guidance: Keeping workers and clients safe during COVID-19 in close contact Services
This guidance provides advice for people who provide close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists etc… on how to open their workplaces safely while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19. As an employer you must continue to comply with existing health and safety legislation. Where a business delivers a variety of services, only those services that are permitted to be open should be made available.
📋 A practical guide to making workplaces safer
The Health and Safety Executive have produced a short guide on working safely during the coronavirus outbreak which can be accessed at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/index.htm
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: https://www.hseni.gov.uk/news/example-risk-assessment-covid-19-workplaces
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. You must provide information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure that staff understand and follow the controls required. Management systems must be in place to ensure staff are following the controls in your risk assessment and the advice within the coronavirus documents.
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: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings
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, where possible
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 the recommended social distancing where possible
You must ensure social distancing between all persons, this includes between employees, between customers, between employees and customers and any other visitors (e.g. delivery personnel).
The Stormont Executive has agreed that people should keep two metres distance where possible, however where this is not possible, people can come within no less than one metre, where appropriate mitigations can be made. Any mitigations, should be considered as part of your risk assessment process and confirmed in your actual risk assessment.
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 social distancing guidelines. Screens or barriers may also be provided. People working in close contact services should wear a face visor/goggles and a Type II face mask (see further information below). You may wish to arrange one-way traffic through the workplace and this may need to be extended to outside your premises as appropriate. The maximum number of persons that your premises can safely hold, should be identified within your risk assessment. You should operate on an appointment system basis.
Information on workplace safety guidelines and social distancing can be accessed at https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-workplace-safety-guidelines-and-social-distancing
5. Where people cannot maintain the recommended distance, manage transmission risk
Where it’s not possible for people to maintain the recommended distance, you should do everything practical to manage the transmission risk by:
◾️ further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
◾️ keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
-using screens or barriers to protect people from one another where social distancing is not possible.-using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
-using a consistent pairing system, defined as fixing which workers work together, if workers have to be in close proximity (defined as being within arm’s-length of someone else for a sustained period of time)
◾️ staggering arrival and departure times
◾️ Social distancing applies to all parts of a premises where business is contracted, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms, canteens, WCs, store rooms and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing.
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, visors, goggles, Type II face mask, aprons etc.
Further general information on PPE is available from: https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/ppe.htm
In workplaces such a contact services it is likely to be difficult to maintain social distancing, as employees need to work in close proximity to their clients, usually for an extended period of time.
An extended period of time refers to the majority of the working day, irrespective of the number of clients served during the day. The person providing a service because of the period of time spent in close proximity to a person’s face, mouth and nose should therefore wear further protection in addition to any that they might usually wear. This should take the form of a clear visor/goggles and a Type II face mask. The clear visor should cover the face and provide a barrier between the wearer and the client from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking. Visors must fit the user and be worn properly. It should cover the forehead, extend below the chin, and wrap around the side of the face. Both disposable and re-usable visors are available. A re-usable visor must be cleaned and sanitised regularly using normal cleaning products. Goggles may be used as an alternative to a clear visor, when worn with a Type II Face Mask. Goggles provide eye protection to the wearer. To be worn in place of a clear visor, goggles should be polycarbonate safety spectacles or equivalent. Reusable eye protection should be cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Type II Face Masks are medical face masks made up of a protective 3-ply construction that prevents large particles from reaching clients/working surface.
All gas systems used in your workplace including appliances, pipework and ventilation for all gas cooking and heating equipment (including gas water heaters) etc…, should be checked by a competent person (i.e. a gas engineer who is suitably registered with Gas Safe Register), before being used, especially where gas systems have not been used/inspected for a period of time https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/find-an-engineer/
Further relevant information regarding gas safety and covid-19 is available from https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/
Going forward, it is important to remember that the law requires that any relevant gas system used in the workplace, must be installed and maintained (at the necessary intervals as specified in associated manufacturer’s instructions) by a competent person (i.e. a gas engineer who is suitably registered with Gas Safe Register - see above) and all necessary maintenance work carried out, as required to ensure safety.
Further detailed information on gas safety is available from:
Statutory Inspections (Lifting Equipment, Pressure Systems, Electrical Systems 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 https://www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/covid-19-workplace-safety-guidance
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 duty holders
Employees from vulnerable groups should follow the government’s advice available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people
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: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus
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: https://www.gov.uk/search/all?topical_events%5B%5D=coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response&order=updated-newest
The HSE have also published information and guidance on Coronavirus:
Examples of Business Support Information:
The Council’s Business Team can also be contacted for further support at: [email protected]
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 Covid-19 and general Health and Safety
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 [email protected]