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Health and safety for businesses and workplaces during COVID-19 (HSE Guidance)

This is the Health & Safety Executive's (HSE) advice for businesses to manage the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace, based on general public health principles.

This page was last updated on 17 August 2021 at 09:15hrs.

If you think that a business is not complying with the rules and regulations, please complete the online form available at: https://gov.gg/covid19businessnoncompliance

As of 16 August 2021, the Bailiwick of Guernsey are open to more visitors from around the European Union/European Free Travel Area/British Overseas Territories as well as the Common Travel Area. It is therefore still important to ensure that businesses and organisations are considering Health and Safety when operating.

Social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures are still recommended. More at: https://covid19.gov.gg/guidance/facecoverings.

The routine use of gloves or FFP3 respirators is not currently recommended for workplaces, but may be appropriate in some healthcare settings.

Good hand hygiene through regular hand washing with soap and water is the most effective way to prevent contamination and is preferred to the use of alcohol hand-gel, which should only be used where running water is not available (e.g. deliveries).

Employees are at risk from COVID-19 if they are in close contact with someone who has the disease or with objects that have been contaminated by infectious material e.g. droplets from coughs and sneezes on surfaces, used tissues/clothing etc. This means that there may be other workers (e.g. cleaners; prison staff or residential care workers in direct contact with sick people) to whom Health and Safety law applies. Where such direct contact is foreseeable, employers should carry out a risk assessment and put preventative measures and/or controls in place as appropriate. General advice on assessing and controlling the risks from infection of COVID-19 at work can be found on the UK government website.

There are clear health and safety requirements to protect workers who come into contact with infectious micro-organisms such as coronavirus as a direct consequence of their work e.g. healthcare workers caring for infectious patients. This information can be found here.

Please note, COVID-19 is a reportable disease if an employee is infected as a result of their work. You must report only after the employee has received a positive test result. It is unlikely that exposure in non-healthcare settings would be reportable, as any infection would be incidental to social contact, rather than the work activity. 

The following guidance relates to all non-healthcare workplaces.

Cleaning and hygiene

As an employer, you must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Keeping your workplace clean and encouraging frequent handwashing reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread and is a critical part of making and keeping your business 'COVID-secure'.

The following advice and guidance should be considered and implemented wherever applicable.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) / Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)

Employers have a duty to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE) at work, where the risk assessment shows that it is necessary to protect against the risk.

PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as gloves, safety helmets, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes RPE such as respirators and fluid-repellent surgical masks.

All PPE should be:

  • Located close to the point of use
  • Stored to prevent contamination in a clean, dry area until required for use (expiry dates must be kept to) 
  • Single-use only items unless specified by the manufacturer 
  • Changed immediately after each patient and/or after completing a procedure or task  
  • Disposed of after use into the correct waste bin stream, i.e. healthcare waste or domestic waste. 

Reusable PPE items (e.g. non-disposable goggles, face shields, visors) must be decontaminated after each use.

PPE and RPE will also need to be:     

  • Correctly marked;
  • Accompanied by an EU or UKCA Declaration of Conformity; and
  • Certified where required.

 

The following dropdowns also apply to PPE/RPE and should be taken into account. 

If you require further information on PPE/RPE requirements, please contact the Health & Safety Executive on hse@gov.gg

Maintaining Legionella controls during lockdown

During a lockdown, businesses, schools, offices and many other buildings will have drastically altered water usage.

Building owners and managers responsible for water hygiene, need to have a process in place to deal with this change of use and adapt their schemes of control effectively.

Buildings come in many different forms, used in many different ways and have many different types of water systems.

The Approved Code of Practice for Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems in Guernsey states that Legionella Risk Assessments should be reviewed as a result of the following instances:

  • A change to the water system or its use;
  • A change to the use of the building where the system is installed;
  • New information available about risks or control measures;
  • The results of checks indicating that control measures are no longer effective;
  • Changes to key personnel;
  • A case of legionnaires' disease/legionellosis associated with the system.

In the case of a lockdown, if your building experiences a change of use, or reduced occupation, this will reduce the amount of water being used. Slowing down water partially or completely will create areas of stagnation, which will in turn create environments for Legionella bacteria to thrive. You should avoid this by:

  • Increased outlet flushing to replicate daily usage;
  • Reducing cold water storage by lowering ball valves or bypassing completely;
  • Turning off hot water systems in unoccupied buildings to reduce heat transfer to cold water systems;
  • Isolating water systems at its source in unoccupied buildings, followed by a commissioning process before re-occupation
  • Isolating parts of the water system to ensure the outlets that are in use have adequate turnover;

The most effective short term solution is to replicate normal building use by outlet flushing such until the temperature is comparable to the supply water, ensure outlets are left with 'fresh' water and not water from another part of the system;

Health & safety requirement exemptions

Under section 29A of the Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 1987 as amended, the Chief Health and Safety Officer may grant certificates of exemption from certain health and safety requirements in limited circumstances:

  • Periodic thorough examination and testing of lifting equipment and pressure vessels (when surveying engineers cannot travel to Guernsey);
  • Testing of fixed electrical installations (when test engineers cannot travel to Guernsey);
  • Gas safety test for gas appliances (when the premises are occupied by people who are self-isolating or shielding);
  • Weekly scaffold inspections (when scaffold inspectors cannot travel to Guernsey or sites are closed for public health or health protection measures).

COVID-19 contacts

Clinical questions

Phoneline available 24 hours a day. Email inbox monitored Monday to Friday 09:00-17:00

Non-clinical enquiries

Monday to Friday 09:00-16:00 and Saturday 10:00-13:00

Businesses with financial concerns

Financial support for individuals

Monday to Friday 8:30 - 16:00

Business Queries

Monday to Friday 09:00-17:00