This sector guidance covers engineering centres, clean rooms, prototyping centres, wet labs, wind tunnels, computer labs, simulators, material development labs and special testing rooms.

Social distancing

Specific social distancing measures on arrival and departure will include using markings and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points, designating exclusive entry points for persons working in high-risk areas (such as mechanical testing sites and wet labs), providing alternatives to touch-based security devices, requesting workers to change into work clothing and equipment onsite and washing lab clothing and equipment onsite.

Movement around buildings and worksites is to be reduced by measures including; restricting or removing access to some areas, encouraging the use of radios or telephones, using fixed teams or adjusting booking processes to reduce the number of people in a lab, regulating the use of lifts and high-traffic areas, introducing one-way flow through buildings - paying particular attention to long corridors which ‘can be more common in laboratory buildings’.

Workplaces and workstation layouts should be reviewed, ‘accepting the limitation of some lab environments’. Measures should include using floor tape to help people keep two meters apart, only using screens where workstations cannot be moved further apart, managing occupancy levels, limiting use of ‘high-touch items’ and shared office equipment, for example, test equipment, apparatus, shared control terminals, and ensuring appropriate air-handling and filtering systems.

Managing customers, visitors and contractors

The number of ‘unnecessary’ office visits is to be minimised by encouraging remote communication, limiting visitor numbers and times and reviewing schedules for essential services and contractor visits.

Guidance is to be issued on (and before) arrival on social distancing and hygiene. This should include signs and visual aids, establishing ‘host’ responsibilities for those hosting visitors and coordinating with landlords and other areas of facility sites (for example, where research and development facilities or labs are situated on science parks).

Cleaning the workplace

Where facilities which have been closed are to re-open, ventilation, air conditioning and positive pressure systems will need to be checked and adjusted where necessary. Specialist equipment which has not been used for some time will need to be checked.

Steps to prevent transmission by contaminated work surfaces will include frequent cleaning between uses, determining required cleaning processes for expensive equipment which cannot be washed down, frequent cleaning of objects which are touched regularly and clearing work spaces and removing waste after a shift.

Steps to help keep good hygiene will include signs and posters as to hand washing frequency, technique and standards, providing hand sanitiser, setting guidance for use of toilets, enhanced cleaning for busy areas and providing more waste facilities.

Use and cleaning guidance is required for changing rooms and showers, and there should be enhanced cleaning of all facilities. There should be cleaning procedures for material, equipment and vehicles.

Managing the workforce

In order to create distinct groups and reduce the number of contacts, workers should - as far as possible - be split into teams or shift groups. Processes where people have to pass things directly to each other should be identified and ways found to remove direct contact such as using ‘put-down-pick-up processes’. 

Non-essential travel should be minimised, as should the numbers travelling in any one vehicle. Person-to-person contact for deliveries and payments should be minimised and consistent pairing should be maintained for two-person deliveries.

Training materials and signage should be developed for returning to work, and coronavirus (COVID-19)-related procedures in operation.

Inbound and outbound goods

Revised pick-up and drop-off collection points, procedures and signage should be considered. Frequencies of deliveries should be reduced, unnecessary gatehouse or security contact should minimised and the same pairs of workers should be used when more than one person is needed.

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.