Keeping workplaces safe as most coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are removed

This page provides the latest information on any changes related to working safely during the pandemic, following changes to coronavirus restrictions.

It also provides details of advice from public health bodies and other government departments on requirements that aren’t enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The guidance will be updated by HSE to reflect the UK and devolved governments responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Timescales for removing restrictions

On 22 February 2021, the UK government announced a four-step roadmap to ease restrictions across England and provide a route back to a more normal way of life.

On 19 July 2021 England moved to Step 4 of the roadmap, including the removal of most restrictions. You can check the latest GOV.UK guidance. There is also information if you are in an area where a new COVID-19 variant is spreading.

There are different approaches and timescales for removing restrictions (and how that is affected by variants) in Scotland and Wales.

Controls to use after most restrictions are removed

From 19 July most coronavirus restrictions were removed in England and UK government social distancing guidance no longer applies.

You must still control the risks and review and update your risk assessment. The following workplace controls remain unchanged:

You must continue to consult your workforce on health and safety matters, talking to workers and their representatives helps to reduce risk.

Other measures to help reduce workplace transmission

You can continue to reduce the risk of transmission during the pandemic by taking measures to limit the number of people your workers are in contact with, for example staggering the times people come into work or go home.

UK government guidance on working safely provides further information and advice on these measures covering a range of different types of work.

You should make sure the measures identified by your risk assessment take account of the public health regulations and guidance for the nation you are working in.

Please refer to your relevant guidance:

Advice from public health bodies and other government departments

The UK government, along with those in Scotland and Wales, has introduced several public health measures to support reducing transmission of coronavirus.

The following guidance from public health bodies and other government departments covers matters that are not enforced by HSE, including:

  • vaccinations
  • workplace testing
  • testing, tracking and tracing including for new variants
  • face coverings
  • mass asymptomatic testing in education settings

Vaccinations

The NHS is currently leading the COVID-19 vaccine programme.

There is Acas advice on getting the coronavirus vaccine for work.

Separate guidance applies for the vaccination rollout programmes by the NHS in Scotland vaccination rollout and Wales vaccination rollout.

Face coverings

Face coverings are a public health protection measure largely intended to help protect others. They are not classified as personal protective equipment (PPE) and are therefore not covered by health and safety legislation.

We have a page explaining the difference between face coverings and surgical face masks.

For England, read the latest advice on face coverings and where to wear one on GOV.UK.

Separate regulations and guidance apply for public and workplace use of face coverings in Scotland and Wales.

Workplace testing

The respective governments’ public health departments lead on workplace testing, HSE is not responsible for producing guidance on testing programmes.

Please refer to your relevant guidance:

Businesses should ensure that workplace testing is carried out safely and control measures are in place to manage the risk of COVID transmission during the testing process.

There is Acas advice on testing staff for coronavirus.

Testing, tracking and tracing including for new variants

HSE does not have a role in establishing or enforcing the different testing and tracking approaches across the UK.

In England, you can find information on NHS Test and Trace service in the workplace, where there is helpful advice on how they:

  • provide free testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus to find out if they have the virus
  • get in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close contacts they have had
  • alert those contacts, advise them to take a PCR test, instruct them to self-isolate and check which contacts are exempt from self-isolation

There is information on the government’s website on work with relevant local councils in England on surge testing for new COVID-19 variants.

You can find details of how separate information and guidance apply in Scotland and Wales and both websites have updates on the approaches being taken to tackle new variants.

This page is reviewed regularly and updated to reflect any changes in the guidance.

Page last reviewed: 31 August 2021

Next review due: 30 September 2021

 
2021-09-01