Coronavirus: Workplace safety guidelines
As an employer, you must protect the safety and health of everyone in your workplace. There are many practical steps that you can take to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading.
Where staff are going or returning to workplaces, employers are encouraged to carefully consider what practical mitigations might be put in place. Best practice workplace measures may include:
- hygiene and sanitary measures, such as regular handwashing - see welfare facilities at work for information on the handwashing facilities you must provide
- some form of social distancing
- mechanical or natural ventilation
- the use of physical barriers
- wearing face coverings in shared spaces
The balance of office and flexible/ hybrid working could also be looked at. Employers may still wish to consider how remote or flexible working could be used effectively.
Employees from vulnerable groups should be supported to work from home.
Review your risk assessment
As an employer, you must complete a risk assessment to spot potential hazards and make any changes possible to reduce the risk of accidents. You should regularly review your risk assessment to make sure it still meets all requirements and complies with health and safety laws.
You should ensure that you follow the latest advice from the Public Health Agency and incorporate this information into your risk assessment.
Employers must consult with employees on health and safety. This does not need to be complicated. It can be done by simply listening and talking to staff
Ventilation in the workplace
Good ventilation is widely recognised as a way to reduce the risk of airborne transmission of coronavirus, particularly in enclosed areas.
You could look at ways to improve how your ventilation system operates and increase the supply of fresh air where you work.
It is important that fresh air is drawn into your ventilation system, otherwise, you risk just recirculating stagnant air from one space to another.
Report a health and safety issue
If you see something in a workplace that you think is breaking health and safety law and is likely to cause serious harm, you can report it.
HSENI is responsible for enforcing health and safety at workplaces including, factories; farms; building sites; mines; schools and colleges; fairgrounds; gas, electricity and water systems; hospitals and nursing homes; central and local government premises.
To make a complaint about retail premises such as shops, food takeaways, garages or hairdressers, barbers or beauty salons, you should contact the environmental health department of the local council where the business is based.