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New guidance on working safely during COVID-19

Guidance issued 11 May 2020

With the change of COVID-19 messaging to Be Alert, the government has issued new guidance to help ensure that workplaces are as COVID-secure as possible.

Businesses are expected to translate the guidance into the specific actions they need to take, depending on the nature, size and type of their business, and how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated.

You must make sure that the risk assessment for your business addresses the risks of COVID-19, using the government’s guidance. If you are self-employed or employ fewer than five workers, you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment. Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to.

The government recommends using HSE’s interactive tools to identify any further improvements you should make.

Working in homes
Communicate with the household before you arrive. When you arrive, make sure that the household understands the social distancing and hygiene measures that should be followed when you’ve started working there.

No work should be carried out in a household which is isolating because one or more family members has symptoms or where an individual has been advised to shield – unless it is to remedy a direct risk to their safety.

When working in a household where somebody is clinically vulnerable but has not been asked to shield – for example, the home of someone over 70 – you should make prior arrangements with them to avoid any face-to-face contact, for example, when answering the door.

You should be particularly strict about handwashing, coughing and sneezing hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth and disposing of single-use tissues.

You should stay up to date with the latest government guidance and consider how it applies to your work. This can include:
• Washing your hands more often than usual for 20 seconds, using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose
• Reducing the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue. Throw the tissue in a bin immediately, then wash your hands
• Cleaning regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people
• Communicating with households before you visit to discuss how the work will be carried out to minimise the risk for everyone
• Maintaining social distance as far as possible.

Keep the work area clean
• Clean objects and surfaces frequently that are touched regularly, using your usual cleaning products
• Arrange with the householder how to dispose of waste safely
• Remove all waste and belongings at the end of a job
• If handwashing facilities are not accessible, carry hand sanitiser.

Face coverings
Whether or not you choose to wear a face covering is up to you. But if you choose to wear one, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it. Don’t touch your face or face covering when it’s on, as you could contaminate it with germs from your hands.
• Change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
• Continue to wash your hands regularly
• Change and wash your face covering every day. If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste

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