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.
Advice on protecting vulnerable workers and pregnant workers can be found on the Health and Safety Executive NI (HSENI) website:
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:
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:
The key COVID-19 symptoms for employers and employees to be aware of are:
- a new continuous cough (this means coughing a lot for more than one hour or three or more coughing episodes in a 24-hour period) - if they usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual
- fever/ high temperature considered to be 37.8 degrees Celsius or above
- loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste
It is essential that any employee who has symptoms of COVID-19 does not attend work and follows the public health advice to self-isolate and take a PCR test.
You can find out how to book a PCR test at this link:
If the test is positive they will have to isolate for a total of 10 days.
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: