Coronavirus (COVID-19): staying safe at work
COVID-19 spreads easily when you are in close contact with others. So if you can work from home, you should. If you cannot work from home, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading at work.
Employers should consult with their employees to determine who needs to come into the workplace.
Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk. This includes vulnerable people, the clinically extremely vulnerable and pregnant workers.
When employers consider if workers should come into their place of work, a COVID-19 workplace risk assessment will need to be completed and appropriate measures should be put in place in line with current Public Health Agency (PHA) guidelines.
The HSENI, in association with the PHA, has produced useful advice and guidance for employers regarding working safely during the coronavirus pandemic:
What employers can do to assist social distancing
Social distancing can help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Measures could include:
- reducing the number of workers on-site at any one time
- relocating workers to other tasks
- redesigning processes to allow social distancing in place
- put in place temporary barriers between staff
- use technology such as teleconferencing instead of face to face meetings
- adjust workflow or production line speeds
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
Employees are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace.
- Consult your employees on health and safety (NIBusiness Info website )
Operators are strongly advised to consider social distancing alongside other risk mitigations to limit the risk of transmission.
COVID-19 spreads easily when people are working in shared spaces and across shared surfaces, such as shared kitchens, bathrooms, door handles, refrigerators and kettles.
People who have COVID-19 can infect others from around two days before symptoms start, and for up to 10 days after.
You can pass the infection to others, even if you have no symptoms, which is why you always need to be careful at work.
What you can do to keep yourself safe
There are some practical things you may wish to consider if you cannot work from home:
- try to keep your distance from colleagues, customers and clients – in all circumstances where possible
- wear a face covering when in shared spaces
- keep windows open as much as possible
- wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds
- use hand sanitiser gel – consider bringing a small bottle of sanitiser gel to work and keeping it in your pocket so that you can use it after touching shared surfaces
- avoid in person meetings where possible – use phone or video conference calls if you can
- when you’re having a break, don’t let your guard down - consider bringing in a packed lunch with you so that you don’t have to use a shared kitchen and, if you can, choose to eat somewhere you can safely social distance
- use your own stationery, mugs and cutlery – if communal items are usually provided, you may wish to consider bringing in your own to work to avoid any possible cross contamination
- keep your work area clear of personal belongings – it is important to keep areas clear to allow for effective cleaning
- if possible, avoid car sharing to commute to work – walk/cycle where possible and if you can't avoid car sharing, guidance is available from the PHA website
Guidance is also available on using public transport:
Symptoms and testing
Employers and employees should be aware of the key COVID-19 symptoms.
Employees who have COVID-19 symptoms should follow the latest guidance on testing and isolation:
Support for employees
Detailed information on support for employees can be found at Advice NI.
Further guidance for the workplace is available at the following links: