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Introduction

Following changes to the law we are updating this guidance. The practical advice in this guidance is still considered useful however you must consider the regulations (as amended).

The Welsh Government introduced the Coronavirus Regulations imposing strict restrictions on gatherings, the movement of people, and the operation of businesses (some of which have been required to close temporarily).   Incrementally, because of regular review of the Regulations, an increasing number of these are allowed to open again.

Businesses that are permitted to operate, and premises that are allowed to open, must do so safely in a way that complies with the Regulations, in addition to other legal obligations imposed on employers (such as health and safety legislation). To support businesses and others to work safely, the Welsh Government has adopted five key principles:

  • Care: our health and well-being comes first
  • Comply: the laws that keep us safe must be obeyed
  • Involve: we will share responsibility for safe work
  • Adapt: we all need to change how we work
  • Communicate: we must all understand what to do

Further guidance on the key principles is available on the Welsh Government website.

This document is to help employers, employees, and the self-employed and others (such as volunteers) working in or at people's homes (where the work does not require close physical contact) to understand how to work safely, taking measures to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

People who work in or at other people’s homes might include the following (these lists are not exhaustive and only provide examples):

  • Workers in homes: such as repair services, fitters, meter readers, plumbers, cleaners, cooks, surveyors, removals workers, film crews, landlords, estate agents, letting agents, house removal firms,
  • Workers delivering to or working outside homes: such as delivery drivers, window cleaners, landscapers and gardeners.
  • Volunteers that may be, for example, providing ad-hoc help to vulnerable people. Guidance on volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic is available.

This guidance does not directly apply to anyone who spends all their time with one single household, such as nannies or in-home carers, or other types of home help. There is specific guidance for nannies: Advice for nannies and their employers: coronavirus and specific advice for health and social care professionals.

How to use this guidance

The Welsh Government has issued Statutory guidance on taking all reasonable measures to minimise exposure to coronavirus in workplaces and premises open to the public. This document builds on these requirements with practical advice as well as signposting other sector-specific and other relevant guidance.  It gives practical considerations of how safe practices could be applied when working in someone home.  Each business or worker must have regard to the Coronavirus Regulations and the Statutory Guidance and should use this document to help them decide what specific actions they should take to operate safely, depending on the nature of the business or work including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated.

In the event of any discrepancy between this guidance and the Statutory guidance, you should have regard to the Statutory Guidance. This guidance is not a substitute for legal advice, which you should consider obtaining where necessary, nor does it supersede any legal obligations including in relation to health and safety, employment or equalities.

It is important that if you are a business or an employer, you continue to comply with your existing obligations including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics.  Failure to comply with the relevant public health legislation could result in enforcement action by the relevant authorities. 

This document contains guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers, contractors and other people, as well as your employees and anyone else on premises.

To help you decide which actions to take, you must carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for other Health and Safety related hazards. This risk assessment must be done in consultation with the recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers.

We expect that this document will be updated over time. This version is up to date as of 28 July 2020. You can check for updates at Keep Wales Safe - at work.

1. Managing Risk

Overview

Key point: To reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures

All those responsible for work, and premises open to the public, must take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19

The most effective way to minimise exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace is to enable some or all of your staff to work from home, some or all of their time.  There is an expectation that employers should be as flexible as possible and make adjustments wherever that is possible. This may include issuing staff with laptops or mobile phones and facilitating communication from wherever members of staff may be. 

It is recognised that people who work in other’s people’s home cannot work from their own home.  However, there are circumstances where remote working might be appropriate; for example, the initial discussion with a householder about the scope of works could be done via telephone or video call.  This could also involve video tours of the homes to show, for example, leaks or internal damage, rather than going to the home for an in-person quote.

Where staff have to attend a workplace, including working in someone else’s home, you should take all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of 2m is maintained between any persons on the premises.  The requirement to maintain 2m distance does not apply to persons from the same household or an extended household, or between a carer and the person being assisted by the carer.

In addition, you must take all other reasonable measures to minimise exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, for example, by:

  • Limiting the level of face-to-face interactions
  • Using physical barriers.
  • Increased, environmental cleanliness and providing reminders about their importance.
  • Washing hands well for 20 seconds with soap and drying thoroughly, or using alcohol based hand gels, before and after close contact.
  • Minimising loud noises which will require people to shout over them.
  • Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) where sector specific guidance says it is necessary.
  • Recording the provision of lead names and contact details to support Test, Trace and Protect (TTP) and undertaking any necessary TTP actions required by employers.
  • Ensure that those with COVID-19 type symptoms are not present on the premises.

You must also provide information to those entering or working at the premises about how to minimise the risk of exposure.

Key point: Work carried out in and at other people’s homes can continue, as long as it is managed in a safe way

Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue providing that workers are well and have no COVID-19 type symptoms and the 4 steps described above are implemented.  This means doing everything you can to maintain 2m distance between those carrying out the work and between members of the household, and following hand washing and respiratory hygiene practices.

All those identified as being at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (due to a serious underlying health issue) have been advised to shield by the Chief Medical Officer for Wales. Shielding helps to protect people who are extremely vulnerable by reducing their contact with other people, and therefore the risk of being exposed to COVID-19. From the 16 August 2020, the Welsh Government will pause shielding.  This means that everyone on the shielding list would be able to, for example, go to work or go shopping.  They may also choose to have work carried out in their homes which means workers may need access to these home environments.  Further guidance on the practical steps you could take when working in homes where people are currently, or have been, shielding is provided in Subsection 2.3 below.

In addition, there is another wider group of people at increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19 who are advised to closely follow social and physical distancing measures at all times.  Care should also be taken when working in their homes as for the people who are shielding.

No work should be carried by anyone who:

  • Has COVID-19 symptoms, however mild;
  • Is a confirmed case and still within their  self-isolation period from onset of symptoms as set out in the guidance;
  • Is a confirmed case and has self-isolated according to the guidance, but still has a fever, or has had a fever within the last 48 hours; or
  • Has been in recent close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, and therefore has been advised to self-isolate (and is currently within the recommended period).

1.2 Thinking about risk

Key point: That a COVID-19 risk assessment is carried out.

You must assess and manage the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace, including working in someone else’s home, and take measures to minimise exposure to the virus.  Additionally, if you are a business operator or employer, you also have a legal responsibility to protect employees and contractors; and anyone else on the premises, from risk to their health and safety. 

Your risk assessment must address the risks of COVID-19, having regard to the Coronavirus Regulations and the Statutory Guidance and using this document to inform your decisions and control measures, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19. 

A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control risks. Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. There are interactive tools available to support you from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Managing risks and risk assessments at work.

If you employ people then you have a duty to consult your staff on health and safety with meaningful discussion with them and/or their recognised trade union (if one exists), before commencing work.  At its most effective, full involvement of your staff creates a culture where relationships between employers and workers are based on collaboration, trust and joint problem solving. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work and how you will manage risks from COVID-19. The people who do the work are often the best people to understand the risks and will have a view on how to work safely. Involving them in making decisions shows that you take their health and safety seriously. You must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers. As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be.

If you are required by law to have a written risk assessment (if you have five or more employees) then significant findings must be written down and control measures put in place. Risk assessments are a legal requirement for pregnant women, no matter the size of the business, and further guidance is available for employers of pregnant women.

Your assessment should have particular regard to whether anyone doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.  The online COVID-19 Workforce Risk Assessment Tool is a two-stage risk assessment for NHS and Social Care workers, which is suitable for use for all staff who are extremely vulnerable (shielding) or at increased risk of contracting COVID-19, including people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Employers and workers should always come together to resolve issues. If concerns still cannot be resolved, then employees can take the following further steps:

1.2 How to raise a concern

  • Contact your employee representative
  • Contact your trade union or association if you have one.
  • Use the HSE form available here

If an individual is concerned about the safety measures in any premises where a work is undertaken or that is open to the public, then they can report this to the Public Protection services of the relevant local authority (which include environmental health and health and safety).

Where the enforcing authority - such as the local authority - identifies that those that responsible for work are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. For example, this would cover not taking all reasonable measures to ensure the 2m distancing requirements.

1.3 Sharing your risk assessment

Key Point: Letting others know about your risk assessment reassures everyone involved in the work

We encourage all businesses to demonstrate to their workers and customers that they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate mitigating actions. You should share your actions with your workforce. If possible, you should publish this information on your website, particularly where you are an employer with over 50 workers. Below you will find a notice that you may wish to share with your workforce and/or customers.

2. Practical steps you can take when working in someone else’s home

2.1 Overview

Key point: There are extra things to think about when working in someone’s home compared to a normal workplace

These might include things like standing back when they open the door, taking your own food and drink, and taking your breaks outside. The most important thing is clear communication with householders before any work takes place.

Thorough preparation and communication with householders are the most important things to do before arriving to work at someone's house.  This means that tasks can be planned in a safe way.  There are a number of things that workers will need to know before arriving at a property, for example; how many people live at the property, whether there are pets, children, or elderly people who may have specific needs. Subsection 3.1 provides for more guidance on managing maintaining physical distance in various scenarios. There is additional COVID-19 advice for pet owners, which should be consulted in advance if households do have pets.

As outlined, work should not be carried out at someone else’s house if any member of the household, or extended household, is self-isolating or showing COVID-19 type symptoms.  You should therefore ask the householder in advance of agreeing to undertake the work if any of these circumstances apply.  On the day worker’s arrive at the property, and before they enter, they should reaffirm with the householder that no one in the household, or extended household, has any symptoms.  If they do, the worker should not enter the property and arrange with the householder to return at a later date.

Additionally, as stated in Subsection 1.1, workers that are unwell or displaying COVID-19 type symptoms, should be self-isolating or are a contact of someone who is self-isolating should not attend the workplace or another person’s home. 

Householders may be worried or anxious about having work carried out at their homes during a time of national emergency.  They may not understand that they are vulnerable, or even that they have symptoms. Some people may not have left their homes in a number of weeks and may be anxious about social interaction (even from a distance), so reassurance is important and you should be kind and compassionate when speaking to them.

It is important that householders understand the scope of the work that is to be carried out. This includes discussing with them things like:

  • How long it will take to complete;
  • How many workers will be required at their property;
  • Any steps you are taking to reduce the risk of transmission and the steps that will be taken to maintain good hand and respiratory hygiene;
  • The facilities that are available at their property, and whether workers will need to use their bathroom and/or kitchen.

It is also important that householders understand what workers might need them to do while the work is being carried out, especially in terms of limiting movement in shared spaces like corridors or entrance hallways. For more detailed guidance on physical distancing while working in someone else's home, see Subsections 3.1 - 3.3.

Public Health Wales have issued an advisory notice for housing, health and social care settings, where you can find links to updated information and examples of best practice.

2.2  Steps that will usually be needed when working in other people’s homes

  • Communicating with the client or household prior to undertaking any work. Make sure you have identified any potential issues with access to the property or working inside, and made a plan for dealing with those issues before carrying out any work.
  • Understanding the space you will be working in. Your preparation will be very different for working in an empty house versus a home that people are currently living in.
  • Checking if anyone, other than household members, will be in the home when you are there - such as nurses, or carers. You may need to co-ordinate access with a number of other individuals so that everyone can work safely.
  • Confirming if anyone in the household has any COVID-19 symptomsIf they do, then workers should not attend but arrange to return at a later date.  If attendance is unavoidable (because of an urgent or emergency situation), additional precautions should be taken to keep workers and householders completely separate from each other.  Workers should not go into a symptomatic household without personal protective equipment (PPE). If this is necessary, training should be undertaken so they understand how to do this safely.  No worker who has symptoms, or who should be self-isolating or is a contact of someone who is self-isolating should attend work.
  • Giving prior notice for those in shared living situations. If you are planning on carrying out work in a block of flats, or a house of multiple occupancy (HMO), you need to give sufficient notice for people who live there to prepare themselves, particularly if the work involves use of communal spaces like hallways or entrances and exits. Giving 3 days written notice is advised, as this gives householders time to plan around your work. Putting notes through doors and putting up posters or notes on doors is a good way to advise people of any work that might inconvenience them.
  • Planning ahead for breaks. Take your own food and drink and take breaks outside, or in your own vehicle, where you can.  If you do need to use householders’ bathrooms, the last person to use them should clean them in between uses.
  • Using fewer workers wherever possible. If more than one worker is necessary to carry out the work, then you should take precautions, for example, by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ that are then allocated to specific homes where work is carried out, ensuring the number of people entering someone else’s home is the smallest number possible.
  • Keeping 2m apart. When working in someone else’s homes ensure a 2m physical distance is maintained between workers, and workers and household members. See further information on physical distancing in Subsections 3.1 - 3.3 below.
  • Being clear on all safety precautions that will be taken. Workers may need to account for things that could challenge the ability to maintain 2m distance within a household, such as the presence of pets, or householders with conditions like dementia. To mitigate this, a family member could be asked to assist in controlling the environment. If possible, either run through all safety measures by phone or using remote working tools, to agree them in advance.  This will limit the number of times you will need to attend the household and ensure that you work efficiently; therefore limiting the amount of time you need to spend in the household to complete the work.
  • Keeping updated on the latest guidance on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.  Consider how it can be applied when you are working in other people’s homes. This can might include:
    • Good and frequent hand hygiene:  When working in someone else's home, the preferred hand hygiene option should be an alcohol based hand sanitiser.  You should sanitise your hands often; especially after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose or if you touch frequently used objects and surfaces in the home. To minimise cross contamination at touch-points (like door handles) in the home, washing hands using the householders’ facilities should be a last resort and hand sanitiser should be used at all times.  This only applies to working in other people’s homes and hand washing should be the preferred option in any other circumstances.  If workers have access to outdoor areas, they can wash their hands using their own soap and cold water. Workers should bring their own hand hygiene provisions to avoid sharing (alcohol based hand sanitiser, soap, water, towel - which should be taken home and washed at the end of the day). If washing hands, make sure to wash them for 20 seconds each time, using soap and water, and dry them thoroughly.
    • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. This reduces the transmission of germs. Tissues must be disposed of immediately - remember to 'catch it, bin it, kill it, preferably in a bin outside, so it doesn’t remain in the household. If this is not possible tissues should be bagged and taken with you when you leave, and disposed of in a bin immediately afterwards.  You must always wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.  If tissues are not available, always sneeze into the crook of your arm rather than into your hands.
    • Frequently cleaning surfaces and objects that are regularly used. This can include door handles and guide rails, for example. Use your regular cleaning products to do this. Increased cleaning reduces the risk of passing the infection on to other people.
    • Washing work clothes at the end of the day. Work clothes must be washed at the end of every day, preferably as soon as workers arrive home to avoid chances of cross contamination with members of their own household.  Do not shake dirty work clothes prior to washing.  If workers are working in multiple households throughout the day, they could consider using a new set of clothes for each household, if practical.  Workers should not share work clothes.

1.3 Working in homes where people are currently, or have been, shielding

Key point: People that have been asked to shield are at a high risk of severe illness from COVID-19

Work can be undertaken in a household that includes a person that is currently or was previously shielding however, extra precautions should be taken when carrying out this work.

If you work in a home where someone is currently shielding, the most important thing is to make contact with them beforehand to understand the practical implications of working in their home.  It is important that everyone understands the risks faced by people who are shielding, so you can work safely in their homes.  It is also important to remember they might not have left the house for some months and might be very anxious about having contact with ‘outside’ people, so will need reassurance that their safety is being taken seriously.

The Welsh Government has published guidance for people who have been told to take shielding measures.  If you may be working in a home like this, you should read the guidance so you understand the risks they face.  There is also guidance on what to do if you share a home with someone who is shielding, and these points are also relevant for people working in the homes of the vulnerable.

In addition to the steps described in section 2.2 above, when working in a home where someone is currently shielding, you should also consider implementing the following:

  • Keep physically separated from the people that are shielding. If possible, they should be on another floor, in a room far from the work, or in the garden if weather permits.  If this is not possible, then you must ensure that a 2m distance is maintained between those undertaking the work and the people that are shielding.
  • Minimise the time you spend in the household.  Complete the work as efficiently as possible to minimise the time you spend at the property. 
  • Be extra vigilant with hand hygiene. Everyone should follow the good hand hygiene practices described in Subsection 2.2 in all circumstances, however, increased vigilance when you are working in the home of someone who is shielding will help to minimise the risk of exposing them to COVID-19.
  • Consider using PPE. It may be appropriate when working in the home of a person that is shielding to use PPE (PPE is not usually necessary unless sector specific guidance says it is). If, following a risk assessment, you consider it necessary then make sure any used PPE is bagged and safely disposed of in household waste. See Section 5 for more details on the use of PPE.

3. Working safely

Physical distancing – overview

Key point: When working in someone else’s home, all practical measures must be taken to stay 2m away from members of that household at all times

As described in section 1.1 above, when appropriate, use remote working tools to limit the direct contact you need to have with a household.  When you carry out work in someone’s home, the Coronavirus Regulations require that you should take all reasonable measures to maintain a 2m distance from you and members of the household.

Physical distancing rules apply to all work that is carried out in all parts of the household; including entrances and exits, toilets/bathroom, kitchen, garden and so on.  It may be challenging to maintain physical distancing in some homes, particularly if there is limited space.  You may need to ask the householder to carry out some physical changes, such as leaving certain doors closed, or moving/removing furniture. 

You must also take steps to maintain a 2m distance in the following scenarios:

  • When you arrive and leave the household
  • During the time you are working in someone’s home; and
  • Any travel you need to undertake during the time you work (for example, a team of surveyors, or a team of cleaners, travelling to different households). Further guidance on physical distancing when travelling to and from work is provided in Subsection 3.3 below.

If more than one worker is required to carry out the work, a 2m distance must also be maintained between all workers as well as between workers and household members. 

As outlined in Subsection 1.2, if you employ other workers that are present at the household, you have a legal responsibility to protect them, and anyone else on the premises, from risk to their health and safety.

Practical steps you can take to ensure 2m physical distancing is maintained when working in someone else’s home

  • Agreeing access points in advance.  If available, agree with householders that you will use access points that are the closest to the area where the work will be carried out, for example, if a side door is near the boiler/fridge/plumbing. This will limit worker’s movement around the house.  Agree that, whilst the workers are present, household members will not use the same access point, where possible.
  • Upon arrival, once you have knocked the door standing well back. Allow for a 2m distance between you and the door.
  • Allowing anyone who lives inside the home to move safely inside, preferably into another room if possible, before you begin to enter. Remember that some people may have mobility issues, so give them time to move away from you.  Make sure all steps to keep physically distanced from householders are explained and agreed in advance.
  • Asking household members to keep their distance.  Explain the need to keep 2m apart while the work is carried out.  If possible, recommend that they stay in another room, or in the garden if weather permits. 
  • Checking if internal doors should be left open or closed.  In order to minimise contact by workers with door handles (that will be frequently touched by householders) it can be useful to leave internal doors open.  However, closed doors can act as barrier for people who need to be kept separated (for example, those that are shielding, refer to Subsection 2.3 above).  Depending on the circumstance, agree in advance with householders whether internal doors will be open or closed and plot your work route accordingly.
  • Identifying busy areas across the household – such as, where people move to, from or through, for example, stairs and corridors/hallways. Agree with household members and workers that movement within these areas is to be kept to a minimum to avoid people coming into contact with each other. 
  • Limiting the number of workers present.  Only workers that are necessary to complete the scope of work should be present at the household.  Consider carefully the need for workers to be present if the house where the work is being carried out has limited space.  It may be necessary for one worker to complete a task and leave the property, allowing another worker to enter to complete a different task.
  • Minimising the movement of workers inside the house.  Agree the area in which the work will be carried out and any route in and out, where possible, limit worker’s movements to this area.
  • Agreeing with householders that they will aim to remain separated from the agreed work area.  Where possible, the majority of people in the household should move out of the way of the agreed work area before the workers arrive (this could be into the garden, or bedrooms).
  • Requesting that householders open windows. Open windows will ventilate the property and, where possible and if it is safe to do so, householders should be asked to open them before workers arrive.
  • Using mobile phones.  If different workers are carrying out work in multiple rooms, mobile phones could be used for conversations between them.  If it is necessary to discuss matters related to the on-going work with a householder, it may also be appropriate to communicate with them via mobile phone, for example, if they are shielding and are perhaps separated from the workers in a different room.
  • Planning breaks. Where possible, take any breaks outside, or in your own vehicle.  Plan breaks in advance and tell householders when workers will be taking a break so that they can avoid corridors/hallways, access points during that time.
  • Discussing factors that might complicate plans to stay physically distanced.  Make sure you have discussed your plans to maintain physical distancing with the householder in advance so that you are aware of any factors that might cause complications.  Try to agree ways to cope with the issues with householders.

3.3  Physical distancing when travelling to and from work

Key point: Transportation to and from work can make physical distancing difficult, or impossible if there are multiple people sharing the same vehicle. However, there are practical things you can do to limit the chances of transmission in these circumstances.

Detailed guidance has been published to help employers, employees and the self-employed with the practical steps they could take if working in or from vehicles.  If possible, workers should use their own mode of transport rather than travelling together (unless it is with someone from their own household, or extended household). 

If workers have no option but to travel together, for example with delivery or removals teams, then you should familiarise yourself with the detail in the Working in or from vehicles guidance, as well as taking the following steps:

  • Limiting the number of people per vehicle.  Wherever possible journeys should be made with the same individuals in the same vehicle (where vehicle pools are in operation).
  • Keeping good ventilation within vehicles by opening windows.
  • Limiting face-to-face contact between passengers.  Where possible, passengers should face away from one another to reduce risk of transmission.
  • Cleaning vehicles regularly.  Standard cleaning products can be used to clean vehicles.  Handles and other frequently touched surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned.  Individuals cleaning the vehicles should wear gloves remembering to avoid touching their face whilst wearing them.  Used gloves should be disposed of in a bin immediately after removing them and the individual should then wash their hands.
  • Wherever possible, employers or agencies should match workers to local households, limiting the travelling distance and potentially offering an opportunity for workers to use active travel, such as working or cycling.

3.4  Minimising risk of exposure to COVID-19

Key point: You must take extra precautions to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19.  The precautions you may need to take will depend on whether closer working is required that makes observing the 2m rule difficult.

When working inside someone else’s home, as well as keeping 2m apart where possible, you must also take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19.  Statutory Guidance has been produced to help people understand what “taking all reasonable measures” means, which you must have regard to. 

The precautions you will need to take will depend on the nature of the work that is being carried out and the type of household that it is being carried out in.  Your COVID-19 risk assessment (refer to Section 1: Managing Risk) will help you decide what actions you need to take.

The following examples were provided in Step 3 of Subsection 1.1:

  • Limiting the level of face-to-face interactions
  • Using physical barriers.
  • Increased environmental cleanliness and providing reminders about its importance.
  • Washing hands well for 20 seconds with soap and drying thoroughly, or using alcohol based hand gels, before and after close contact.
  • Minimising loud noises which will require people to shout over them.
  • Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) where sector specific guidance says it is necessary.
  • Recording the provision of lead names and contact details to support Test, Trace and Protect (TTP) and undertaking any necessary TTP actions required by employers.
  • Ensure that those with COVID-19 type symptoms are not present on the premises.

The following steps could also be taken, where possible:

  • Using a fixed pairing system, therefore limiting the number of people coming into contact with each other and households.
  • Allocating the same workers to a household where work will be carried out over more than one visit or is repetitive (for example the same cleaner would undertake a weekly clean at the same household) therefore reducing the number of households that workers have to attend.
  • If workers are doing jobs in an empty home, remember they may not be the only people who are working there. Empty homes should be cleaned after each visit from a separate worker or group of workers, or there should be a 72-hour window between visits, to eliminate the possibility of virus transmission.  Rather than cleaning the entire property, cleaning should focus on touch-points and areas within the premises that workers have been in contact with. For example, for someone installing a meter, this might include cleaning the immediate area they are working in with sanitising wipes and regular cleaning products, before starting and after completion of the installation. In this example, in empty premises, installers would also be expected to clean all touch- points (such as door handles, and so on) when entering and leaving that premise.
  • Extra attention must also be paid to equipment, and cleaning, and hand washing and respiratory hygiene, in order to reduce risk.

3.5 Physical distancing for delivery drivers and riders

Key point: Although most delivery drivers will not be entering people’s homes, they will still need to consider physical distancing and hand and respiratory hygiene precautions when delivering items.

As per the advice in Section 1, all employers must assess risks, and reduce them as far as is reasonably practicable. This applies equally to risks associated with delivery and collection.  A thorough risk assessment will ensure you comply with the law, but if in doubt always seek legal advice. The HSE has more information: Delivering safely

Drivers should minimise contact during deliveries to, or collections from people’s homes. Where it is possible and safe, a single worker should load and unload the vehicle.  If more than one person is needed for this work, where possible, the same workers, through a pairing system for example, should undertake this work.

Drivers must be careful to thoroughly wash their hands and dry them, or sanitise using alcohol based sanitiser, before and after delivery and or collection. If they do not do this, there is the possibility of cross contamination between the pick-up location and the customer.

If delivery drivers or riders are handling food, there are extra health and safety considerations. They should have basic inductions on safe food handling and hand hygiene. As with all staff, any symptoms of illness or poor health should be reported immediately.

It is important to maintain rules of physical distancing when delivering items. Delivery drivers should place items at a customer’s door and then contact them, either by calling them or knocking or ringing the doorbell. The driver should step back at least 2m from the front door, to allow sufficient space between them and the householder.

Good hand washing and respiratory hygiene rules should be followed, as set out in Subsection 2.2.   A good rule of thumb is to wash hands or sanitise between ALL tasks. As washing facilities may not be available, drivers should have access to alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Another option is for drivers to make sure they carry soap and a sufficient supply of water with them, so they can wash their hands while on the road. If they also carry a towel with them, it should be washed at the end of the day (see Subsection 2.2).

There is more information available from the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health (Food delivery and takeaway guidance) and from the Food Standards Agency (Adapting restaurants and food businesses for takeaway and food delivery during COVID-19).

3.6 What to do in case of an emergency

Key point: Physical distancing may not be appropriate in an emergency, if it would be unsafe for people to stay 2m apart.

In an emergency (an accident or a fire), it would not be reasonable for people to stay 2m apart if it would be unsafe. If anyone is involved in giving assistance to others, they should make sure they comply with the usual sanitation advice immediately afterwards (fully washing hands, safely disposing of any gloves or other PPE).

St John's Ambulance have updated their guidance on emergency assistance during the pandemic. They recommend that first aiders do not perform rescue breaths on anyone requiring cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

For more information, make sure you have checked the St John's Ambulance emergency advice.

4. Workforce planning

Key Point: You may need to change the way you work, by, for example, creating distinct groups of workers, to reduce the number of contacts that each worker or a household might have.

Reducing the number of contacts that your workers have, and therefore that households may have, can reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. The following steps could be taken:

  • Where multiple workers are in a home, creating fixed teams of workers who carry out their duties in those teams, and minimising contact between each team.
  • Identifying areas where people need to hand things to each other (such as shared tools and domestic appliances) and finding ways to remove direct contact, for example, by using drop-off points or transfer zones.
  • Allocating the same worker to the same household each time there is a visit, for example, the same cleaner each time.

Key point: Employers have a responsibility to help the Test, Trace, Protect programme

Guidance has been published that explains how employers in Wales can play their part in helping to deliver Wales’ Test, Trace, Protect (TTP) strategy to slow the spread of the virus, protect our health and care systems and save lives. This covers their responsibilities to employees and contractors associated with the operation of their business and includes relevant information for the self-employed.  The following steps will usually be needed:

  • As part of your risk assessment, ensuring you have an up to date plan in case there is a COVID-19 outbreak within your workforce. This plan should nominate a single point of contact (SPOC) where possible who should lead on contacting local Public Health teams.
  • If the PHW health protection team declares an outbreak, you will be asked to provide your TTP records and details of symptomatic staff.  You will be provided with information about the outbreak management process, which will help you to implement control measures, assist with communications to staff, and reinforce prevention messages.

5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high- visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment, such as face masks.

Where you are already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so.

At the start of this document we described the steps you need to take to manage COVID-19 risk in the workplace. This includes working from home if that is possible, or taking all reasonable measures to maintain 2m physical distancing on your work place premises. When managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not recommended. This is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through physical distancing, good hand and respiratory hygiene routines and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.

The exception is clinical settings, like a hospital, or a small handful of other roles for which Public Health Wales advises use of PPE, for example, first responders and immigration enforcement officers. If you are in one of these groups you should refer to the advice here.

Unless you are in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission to your workforce is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection to staff is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly and be put on and taken off in a particular way to avoid potential contamination of the face or hands.

More information on PPE in Wales: Coronavirus and personal protective equipment (PPE).

6. Face Coverings

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.

A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where physical distancing is not possible. It just needs to cover your mouth and nose. A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of higher specification PPE. Similarly, face coverings are not the same as the PPE used to manage risks like dust and spray in an industrial context. Supplies of PPE, including face masks, must continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.

It is important to know that face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, and increasing hand and surface washing. These other measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace and the Welsh Government would therefore not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for the purpose of their health and safety assessments.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by law, including in the workplace.  Effective from 27 July 2020, it is mandatory to wear a face covering on public transport in Wales. A three-layer face covering is recommended for the public for short-term use where other controls, such as social and physical distancing, are not possible, and in poorly ventilated environments.

If worn, effective face coverings should have a water repellent outer layer if possible, and are comprised of 3 layers of different fabrics, which are non-stretchy. They should fit well with no air gaps around sides and under chin. They are not a substitute for other preventative measures, such as social distancing. Where 2m physical distancing can be maintained in Wales we do not recommend wearing a face covering. We do not recommend that they are compulsory; however, we do support the public’s right to choose whether or not to wear them.

Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. This means reminding them of the following information:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds, (or use hand sanitiser) and dry thoroughly before putting a face covering on, and after removing it.
  • When wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or the face covering as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands.
  • To not hang a face covering from the neck or pull down from the nose
  • Change your face covering if it becomes damp or damaged.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Change and wash or discard (as applicable) your face covering daily.  
  • If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions.
  • After wearing a reusable face covering, it should be placed inside a plastic bag prior to it being washed to prevent onwards contamination from the used face covering.
  • If it is not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste and help keep Wales tidy.
  • Practicing social and physical distancing is the most effective way of reducing the transmission of COVID-19.

You can make face-coverings at home and can find guidance on how to do this and use them safely on Face coverings: COVID-19.

7. Communications

You are required by the Coronavirus Regulations to provide information to those entering or working at premises about how to minimise exposure to COVID-19.  It is therefore essential that there is clear, precise and constant communication between employers, employees, the self-employed, trade unions (if one exists), and households, and anyone else on the premises, about the reasonable and proportionate actions being taken. It is important that everyone has the same message and same instruction.  Employers and business operators should ensure that communications are accessible for all. The aim is to give clear communications and assurance of the management of COVID-19 risks and to minimise exposure to the virus.

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