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COVID-19 Information for Essential Businesses - Non Retail

On 24 March 2020, the Executive Office in Northern Ireland published a list of essential businesses that are permitted to remain open to members of the public during the Coronavirus emergency.  This information can be found here: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-essential-businesses-and-services

Risk Assessment

If your business is classed as ‘essential’ you must risk assess your activities and implement effective measures to ensure that you are doing enough to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to protect your employees, and anyone else you may encounter (e.g. delivery personnel etc.).  An example coronavirus risk assessment template has been created by the HSENI which can be downloaded at:  https://www.hseni.gov.uk/news/example-risk-assessment-covid-19-workplaces.

The following information, while not exhaustive, are examples of the type of matters that you must consider as part of your risk assessment.  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.

Social Distancing

Employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home. Essential businesses which are remaining open must ensure a distance of two metres between all persons – this includes between employees any other visitors (e.g. delivery personnel).  Effective arrangements must be in place to ensure employees enter the premises separated, ensuring working spaces are not crowded and separation can be maintained.  Effective queue controls/distance markers may be required outside of premises (depending on the volume of employees working in the building) to ensure safe and effective separation is maintained.  Properly protected additional employees at premises entrances/exits to manage numbers entering and exiting and clear signage describing the need to maintain social distancing, may also be required. 

Communal areas such as corridors, stairways, lifts, canteens, clock in areas, smoking areas and toilets must also be considered when planning for social distancing.  You must ensure that associated arrangements and requirements generated by your risk assessment, are effectively communicated and suitably enforced.  You may need to stagger break and start/finish times to ensure social distancing controls can be achieved.  Management and employees must ensure the requirements of social distancing are firmly adhered to.  Further information is available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people

Cleaning

Equipment and surfaces that are touched regularly, for example desks, computers, telephones, keyboards, water coolers, door handles, light switches etc must 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

Hygiene

Businesses must ensure that there are suitable facilities for employees to wash their hands with soap in hot and cold running water and ensure that they do this regularly for at least 20 seconds each time.  Information on effective handwashing can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/  

Ensure to catch all coughs and sneezes with tissues, binning them immediately after.  The provision of tissues to employees and the display of posters to promote the message of CATCH IT, BIN IT, KILL IT, will help achieve good respiratory hygiene (see links to posters below).

While not a substitute for effective hand washing, hand sanitiser should also be provided for employees.  The provision of hand sanitisers and towels/tissues at work areas should also be considered.

 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

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.  Further general information on PPE is available from: https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/ppe.htm

Vulnerable Employees

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

Management Arrangements

It is important to regularly 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.

Posters, Training and Other Information

Proactive steps must be taken to remind everyone of the key public health advice, to help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).  Posters, leaflets and other materials are available from the links below and should be displayed in prominent positions to help inform employees.  Regular toolbox talks are a good way to engage with employees, providing up to date advice and guidance and encourage any concerns to be raised.  The Public Health Agency have a range of useful information for both employers and employees and these can be found at: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/advice-covid-19-coronavirus  https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/101/resources/5016

Arrangements for Suspected COVID-19 Infection

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/

Compliance

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:

Advice for Employers and Businesses:                                       https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

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

Business Support Information:                                      

https://www.derrystrabane.com/Business/Updates-And-Support/Updates-And-Support  https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/campaign/coronavirus-updates-support-your-business

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

The Council’s Business Team can be contacted for further support: [email protected]