Covid-19 workplace safety toolkit
Businesses across Tower Hamlets have invested in making their workplaces as safe as possible as they continue to operate in challenging conditions.
As cases continue to rise across the UK, including in London, we all now need to do more to help stop the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.
Anyone who can do so, should be working from home. However, we recognise that in some sectors, this is not possible. It is therefore more important than ever that where a workplace remains open, the right steps are taken to help keep staff and visitors safe.
This toolkit provides the information and resources to support business in the borough in that effort.
How to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19
Carrying out risk assessments to make sure that your workplace is safe should be part of your normal routine, no matter how many people you employ or how many visitors you see.
The spread of COVID-19 means there are clearly now more factors to consider.
Follow this guide from the Health and Safety Executive to assess the risks in your workplace.
Self-isolation and testing
Testing and tracing is important to make sure that cases of COVID-19 can be identified and those who have been in contact with someone who was potentially infectious can be contacted and asked to self-isolate. Find out more about NHS Test and Trace.
Make sure your staff know the symptoms of COVID-19 and if they get symptoms, make sure they self-isolate and order a test.
They may also need to self-isolate if they have close contact with someone who later tests positive. If your staff are returning from abroad, you should make sure they check the latest guidance to find out if they need to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to work.
You should give staff the support they need to self-isolate. Find out more about how the council can support those required to stay at home to protect others.
Ensure you plan for the possibility of staff self-isolating as part of your business continuity plans.
To protect your staff, you should also make sure that visitors do not enter your workplace if they COVID-19 symptoms.
Introduce ways to support staff and visitors to socially distance. You may want to introduce a one way system to guide people around the building. You may also want to mark the ground or use other signs, or objects, to create space between people.
Ensure that staff and visitors wash their hands frequently and thoroughly or use alcohol hand sanitiser (minimum 70 per cent alcohol content) if hand washing facilities are not available. Provide alcohol hand sanitiser for visitors at the entrance and exit to the building.
If required, make sure visitors and staff wear a face covering. It is vital that these are worn correctly for them to be effective. A face covering should cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably.
Display clear messaging that promotes hand washing, social distancing, wearing a face covering (where government guidance advises this) and the NHS Test and Trace programme).
We have provided three different posters that you can download and print for use in your workplace:
You should keep a record of any visitors to help the NHS Test and Trace programme reach contacts if there is positive COVID-19 case linked to your workplace. This information should be kept for 21 days.
If your workplace is open to the public, you may need to create a QR code poster to display at the entrance.
The government website has information about which businesses need to display a QR code and how to create your poster if you are one of the businesses that does.
How to manage an outbreak of COVID-19
Step 1: Identify
If you are told that one of your staff or someone who visited your workplace during the infectious period has tested positive for COVID-19, you should contact the London Coronavirus Response Cell (LCRC) by emailing LCRC@phe.gov.uk or calling 0300 303 0450.
The infectious period is defined as 48 hours before, and 10 days after, the start of symptoms, or before and after the date of their test if they do not have symptoms.
Please also let us know by emailing PHCov19@towerhamlets.gov.uk
Once you have been in touch with us, you will get help to carry out a risk assessment and be given information on what to do next.
Public Health England have created action cards for different workplaces to tell you more about what you need to do in the event of an outbreak.
Step 2: Report
Nominate a key member of staff to represent your organisation when dealing with the outbreak.
They will be the main contact person for the LCRC and/or the council. If necessary, an outbreak incident management meeting may be held to support you, with one of your senior staff invited to take part.
Have the visitor log of names attending your setting ready - LCRC will want to use this for contact tracing. You will work with LCRC to identify who has been in close contact with the positive case.
A ‘close contact’ is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 while they are infectious.
Examples of close contact include:
- living in the same house or being a sexual partner
- close face to face contact (under one metre) for any period of time – including talking to them or coughing on them
- being within one to two metres of each other for more than 15 minutes – including travelling in a small vehicle.
Step 3: Respond
Think about communication with your employees and the community, as advised by LCRC or the council. Check that all staff on the premises are symptom-free and have not been told by NHS Test and Trace/LCRC to self-isolate.
If they have symptoms, or have been told to self-isolate, send them home and ask them to follow self-isolation advice/guidance for close contacts. Consider what support you can offer them to help with self-isolation.
For large outbreaks, LCRC and the council may discuss mass testing of your employees with you.
You will be given advice on how you can prevent future outbreaks and it is important that these measures are implemented.
Rules for licensed premises and similar venues
Nightclubs, dance halls, sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars must remain closed.
Takeaways can continue to operate after 10pm but only for deliveries. After 11pm, this must only be through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through.
All premises should create and download a QR code poster which can be scanned by customers using the NHS COVID-19 app. Where it is not possible to display a poster, a paper or electronic record should be kept to record the details of at least one member of each group, including their contact information.
This log should be kept for 21 days and should be made available to NHS Test and Trace on request.
Failure to follow the above requirements could result in a fine.
Further business support
COVID-19 has not only created a public health crisis, it has also led to an economic one. Businesses are facing an unprecedented challenge.
There are a number of national and local programmes that have been introduced to provide financial and other assistance. Find out more about support you may be eligible for.
Information in Bengali
We are lucky to be one of London's most diverse boroughs with a number of businesses owned and managed by those from the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
In particular, we have a significant number of Bangladeshi-owned businesses where the working language may not be English. The following resources have been translated to make sure that language isn't a barrier to keeping your workplace safe.
Wear a face covering advice