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Keeping workplaces safe as coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are eased – sources of advice

This page provides the latest information on any changes related to workplace safety during the pandemic following the easing of 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) and links to their guidance.

The guidance will be updated by HSE to reflect any reviews of social distancing and other long-term measures, as set out in the government’s COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021.

Roadmap for coming out of lockdown

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

There are different approaches for easing restrictions in Scotland and Wales.

As the economy reopens, businesses should continue to follow GOV.UK working safely guidance and put in place measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The following workplace controls remain unchanged:

Returning to the workplace safely

As restrictions are eased and people return to work, it is vital that their workplace is COVID-secure following on from completing a COVID risk assessment.

You can check the latest GOV.UK guidance on going to work.

We have advice on talking to your workers about returning to work after a lockdown, with examples of questions you can ask to help them understand the risks and contribute to decisions on reducing the risk of transmission.

These include talking about changes in your workplace, such as site rules, one-way systems and arriving at work.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) also provides useful guidance on talking to workers about returning to the workplace.

Advice from public health bodies and other government departments

The government 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:

  • mass asymptomatic testing in education settings
  • workplace testing
  • NHS Test and Trace
  • vaccinations
  • face coverings

Mass asymptomatic testing in education settings

The Department for Health and Social Care lead on testing in education settings, HSE is not responsible for producing guidance on testing programmes.

Please refer to guidance produced by the Department for Education on GOV.UK for further information on mass asymptomatic testing in secondary schoolsspecialist settings, and for staff in primary schools and nurseries.

Education settings 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.

Workplace testing

The Department for Health and Social Care lead on workplace testing, HSE is not responsible for producing guidance on testing programmes.

Please refer to guidance on GOV.UK further information on workplace testing, including the criteria for joining the testing programme.

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.

NHS Test and Trace

HSE does not have a role in establishing or enforcing the NHS Test and Trace system.

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, where necessary, and instructs them to self-isolate

Vaccinations

The NHS is currently leading the COVID-19 vaccine programme. The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Read the latest JCVI advice on priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccination on GOV.UK.

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

Separate guidance applies for vaccination programmes in Scotland and Wales.

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.

Read the latest advice on face coverings and where to wear one on GOV.UK.

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

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

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2021

Next review due: 30 April 2021

2021-03-31