This sector guidance covers those working in industrial environments such as manufacturing and chemical plants, food and other large processing plants, warehouses, distribution centres and port operations.
Who should go to work
Consideration must be given to who is essential to be on site to run operations and this number should be kept to a minimum, with everyone else working from home where they possibly can. Pro-active steps taken to facilitate this by ‘providing equipment for people to work from home safely and effectively’.
Social distancing at work
Social distancing measures on arrival and departure can include staggering arrival and departure times, creating more entry points into buildings, using markings and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points, providing handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser at entry and exit points and providing alternatives to touch-based security devices such as key pads.
Movement around the premises is to be reduced by restricting access to some areas, encouraging the use of telephones or radios, reducing job and equipment rotation, introducing more one-way flow through buildings and regulating the use of high traffic areas like corridors, lifts, turnstiles and walkways.
On the premises, two metre social distancing should be maintained wherever possible. This should be facilitated by using floor tape or paint on the factory floor to mark areas to help workers keep to a two metre distance. Where it is not possible to move work stations this far apart, then workers should work side-by-side rather than facing one another and temporary board dividers or perspex dividers can be utilised to separate workers from one another. Employers should use ‘fixed teams or partnering’ to limit the number of people individuals have contact with.
As well as on the factory floor, social distancing must be maintained in meetings and in common areas. Meetings should be held outside or in well-ventilated rooms and only include ‘absolutely necessary participants’. To assist with social distancing in common areas, staggered breaks and safe outside areas to use for breaks should be provided and, where possible, packaged meals should be offered to avoid opening a staff canteen.
Managing those coming into the factory, workplace or plant
Employers should encourage visits via remote connection or remote working if at all possible, in order to minimise the number of visits. Where that is not viable, steps should be taken to limit the number of visits at any one time. It should be determined ‘if schedules for essential services and contractor visits can be revised to reduce overlap and interaction’. Furthermore, clear guidance should be given to those coming on site about social distancing and the need to maintain a high-level of hygiene through visual aids and signage. Guidance should also be issued before they arrive through email, phone or the website as appropriate.
Social distancing and precautions against any surface transmission need to be considered when goods enter and leave the site, especially in high-volume situations. This can be done by minimising unnecessary contact at gatehouse security, considering methods to reduce the frequency of deliveries and, where possible, having single workers load or unload vehicles or the same pairs of people undertaking these duties where that is required.
Cleaning the workplace
If facilities have been closed and are to re-open, ventilation, air conditioning and positive pressure systems need to be checked, as well as any specialist equipment.
Once open, workplaces need to be kept clean. This will involve ‘the frequent cleaning of work areas’ and ‘the frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly’. In addition, workspaces should be cleared and waste and belongings removed at the end of each shift. Consideration must also be given to cleaning tools, any objects that come into the workplace and vehicles such as pallet trucks and forklift trucks.
Steps should be taken to encourage a good level of hygiene. Signs and posters detailing hand washing frequency, technique and standards should be provided, as should hand sanitiser, guidance for the use of toilets and enhanced cleaning for busy areas.
Managing the workforce
Work should be organised to create ‘distinct groups’ and reduce the number of contacts each worker has, so where contact is unavoidable it happens between the same people. In addition, direct contact can be reduced through the use of drop-off points or transfer zones where previously workers would have had to pass things directly to one another.
Non-essential travel should be minimised, as should the numbers travelling in any one vehicle. When making deliveries at other sites, person-to-person contact for deliveries and payments should be minimised and consistent pairing put in place where two-person deliveries are required.
Communications must be clear, consistent and regular so workers understand coronavirus (COVID-19) -related safety procedures. On-going engagement with the workforce must be maintained through trade unions and other employee representative groups.
You can read the guidance in full here.
Articles shared by Thompsons relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) are correct at the time of publication. You should check the government's guidelines for the latest information and advice at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.