Step 4 guidance for businesses
Six steps to protect yourself, your staff and your customers during step 4 of COVID-19 reopening:
- Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes the risk from COVID-19
- Providing adequate ventilation
- Maintaining social distancing
- Cleaning the workplace more often
- Turn away people with COVID-19 symptoms and contacts that need to self-isolate.
- Communicate and train
1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes the risk from COVID-19:
- As an employer, you have a duty to take reasonably practical steps to manage risks in the workplace. To help you decide which actions to take, you must carry out an appropriate risk assessment.
- This risk assessment must be done in consultation with unions or workers, you may also want to consult industry representatives.
- You should support a safe return to the workplace. Discuss the timing and, where applicable, phasing of any return with workers. To help them to feel safe returning to work consult with them on any health and safety measures you have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading.
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has tools to support you. Telephone: 0300 790 6787 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm) / Online: working safely enquiry form.
- Self-isolation for close contacts of COVID-19 cases. The law on self-isolation in England has now changed. Close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases will no longer need to self-isolate if they are either double jabbed or under 18. Instead, they will need to take a free PCR test. As of 16 August 2021, adults and children will be free to return to work, attend school, and meet friends and family as protection from the vaccine replaces the need for contact isolation.
- Be mindful of the particular needs of different groups of workers or individuals to make sure that nobody is discriminated against: Consider if you need to put in place any particular measures or adjustments to take account of your duties under equalities legislation.
- Make reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage.
- Assess the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers.
- Make sure any steps you take do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others. For example, those with caring responsibilities or religious commitments.
2. To reduce the risk of the virus spreading through aerosols, consider providing adequate ventilation:
- This is because fresh air helps to dilute the virus in occupied spaces. If you have mechanical ventilation, you should maximise the fresh air your system draws in and avoid systems that only recirculate air and do not draw in a supply of fresh air.
- Identifying any poorly ventilated spaces and taking steps to improve fresh air flow in these areas. A CO2 monitor could help you assess whether a space is poorly ventilated. If you can’t improve ventilation in poorly ventilated spaces, minimise the use of these spaces. Advice on the suitability of CO2 monitoring in different types of space.
- Encouraging use of outside space where practical. Identifying any areas of congestion in your venue and considering if any reasonable steps could be taken to avoid this.
- Use of PPE should be a last resort, but some may want to use face coverings in enclosed or crowded areas. This should be encouraged but not mandatory, unless your risk assessment states otherwise, and then you must supply free of charge.
3. To reduce the risk of the virus spreading through droplets, consider maintaining social distancing:
- Putting in place measures to reduce contact between people,
- Use work bubbles ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)
- Use screens or barriers to separate people from each other, or using back-to-back or side-to-side working instead of face-to-face .
- Encouraging the use of face coverings by workers or customers in enclosed and crowded spaces. From Step 4 there is no longer a legal requirement for staff and customers to wear face coverings.
4. To reduce the risk of the virus spreading through inhalation from contaminated hands, consider cleaning the workplace more often
- It is advised to assess all sites or part of sites that have been closed for a period of time to ensure it is clean, safe, and ready to re-open. Any sites with water tanks that may have been stagnant for a period should consider a Legionella assessment.
- Advising customers and workers to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser frequently. This is particularly important before and after touching shared objects or surfaces that other people touch regularly.
- Providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.
- Providing hand sanitiser in multiple accessible locations in addition to washrooms. Consider the needs of people with disabilities.
- Maintaining regular cleaning of surfaces, particularly surfaces that people touch regularly.
- Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.
- If you’re cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19, referring to the guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings.
5. Turn away people with COVID-19 symptoms and contacts that need to self-isolate.
Stop people physically coming to work, when government guidance advises them to stay at home. This includes people who: Have COVID-19 symptoms; Live in a household with someone who has symptoms, or Are required to self-isolate as part of NHS Test and Trace. Your risk assessment should include an up-to-date plan in case there is a COVID-19 case or outbreak. This plan should include informing the local authority through the firstname.lastname@example.org mailbox, who will be able to offer support and guidance.
- Enable workers to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate. It’s illegal to knowingly allow someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
- See current guidance related to statutory sick pay due to COVID-19:
- Ensure any workers who have symptoms of COVID-19 self-isolate immediately and continue for the next 10 full days, even if their symptoms are mild.
- Workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate immediately and continue for the next 10 full days. Workers that test positive but have no symptoms must also self-isolate in this way. Sometimes workers develop symptoms during their isolation period. In these cases, they must restart their 10-day self-isolation period from the day after they develop symptoms. See the guidance for people who live in households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infections
- Ensure any workers who are contacts of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 self-isolate for a period of 10 days. Contacts must self-isolate immediately and continue for the next 10 full days.
- Ensure any workers who have been informed by NHS Test and Trace that they’re a close contact of a person who has had a positive test result for COVID-19 follow the requirement to self-isolate. See the guidance for those who have been in contact with, but do not live with, a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
6. Communicate and train to make sure all workers understand COVID-19 related safety procedures.
- Share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. All businesses should show their workers and customers that they have: properly assessed their risk; and taken appropriate measures to mitigate this.
- Providing clear guidance on how individuals can reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 before and when they arrive. For example by phone, on the website, or by email, and with signage and visual aids.
- Encouraging staff and customers to use hand sanitiser or hand washing facilities as they enter the premises.