Getting back to business

In Phase 2 retail premises of all sizes can re-open on 29 June, but only if they have outdoor entrances and exits and physical distancing in place. Outdoor markets with physical distancing, hygiene measures and controls on numbers of people can also reopen from the 29 June. Indoor shopping centres should prepare to re-open in phase 3 as indicated in the routemap.

Indoor non-office-based workplaces can resume with the implementation of agreed guidance - this includes factories and warehouses, lab and research facilities, with physical distancing.

Non-essential workplaces should remain closed until the relevant phase in the route map. Even if your workplace is open, if you are able to work from home then please continue to do so. 

You can monitor Scottish Government guidance and the route map.  

If you are a business operating in Aberdeen city, or their employees looking for specific advice regarding whether you can reopen and the restrictions in place you can contact us through our online form.

The Scottish Government has published guidance for the following sectors: 

Guidance for businesses and consumers alike is available on the Council’s dedicated  COVID-19 Trading Standards webpage.

From Monday 6 July outdoor spaces can be used for outside hospitality such as drinking and dining. The 2m physical distancing requirement still applies to these spaces. 
The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Amendment (No.6) Regulations 2020 published on 02 July have defined indoor spaces in line with the wholly or substantially enclosed public places within the Prohibition of Smoking in Certain Premises (Scotland) Regulations 2006. Put simply, it means premises which have a roof, and walls on more than 50% of the perimeter of the premises are classed as indoor spaces
To be considered as an outdoor space, structures like marquees must have at least 50% of its “wall area” open to be compliant. 
Structures that have more than 50% of their perimeter walled are considered as indoor spaces and cannot be used until the restrictions on indoor hospitality areas are relaxed in Phase 3 of the route map (currently indicated to be 15 July).
 

From 29 May 2020, most outdoor workplaces have been able to restart with physical distancing measures in place once guidance is agreed. This includes horticulture, landscaping and garden centres, forestry and environmental management. Associated cafes should not reopen at this stage except for take-away and physical distancing measures should be followed.

Guidance for businesses in Scotland on physical distancing, including the closure of all retailers that sell non-essential goods and other non-essential premises due to the COVID-19 outbreak, can be found here: Business and physical distancing guidance

For those workplaces that are reopening, employers should encourage staggered start times and flexible working. 

Guides from the Health and Safety Executive provide useful sources of information: 

Talking with your workers about working safely during the coronavirus outbreak: Talking with your workers.

Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak: Working safely.
 

If you are considering reopening your premises to your employees and/or the public, the first thing you must carry out is a risk assessment for COVID-19.   The HSE has extensive guidance and advice to assist you with this and other considerations for providing a safe workplace, for more information visit HSE website.  Please note that other links from the HSE website to gov.uk pages regarding COVID-19 matters are for businesses based in England.   

Remember that your business model may have changed, and more of your employees may now be working from home – you must include them in your risk assessment. 

You should also speak to your insurance company for any specifics they require you to assess.

 

The opening of public toilets carries with it a risk of transmission of COVID-19 given the low levels of natural light, lack of ventilation, many surfaces to touch and the purpose of a toilet. Therefore, there is a need for careful consideration of how public toilets can be opened as safely as possible.  

The Scottish Government has issued guidance on the opening of public and customer toilets during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Employers, the self-employed, and people in control of premises, such as landlords, have a duty to protect people by identifying and controlling risks associated with legionella.

If your building was closed or has reduced occupancy during the COVID-19 outbreak, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.

The bacteria are carried in aerosol droplets from outlets such as showerheads, spray taps at sinks, spa pools, garden hoses attached to sprinklers, air conditioning systems, etc.

Before reopening your building, you must take steps to control the risks of legionella. Traditional methods of control include storing hot water above 60°C, and ensuring it reaches 50°C within one minute of running the hot water tap.  Similarly, cold water should be stored and distributed below 20°C.

Given the current restrictions, maintenance staff or specialist contractors may not be able to attend your premises to take monthly temperatures.  In these situations, you should introduce twice-weekly flushing of your system as a short-term measure to increase water turnover.  You should continue to check water temperatures monthly and actioning any out-of-range temperatures.  All these actions must be logged.

If your building has been completely closed, you must act a few weeks before reopening:

  • 2-3 weeks before reopening: you should consider a building chlorination, especially if you have cold water storage tanks.  This is because the temperature of the water in these systems is likely to have increased above 20°C.  Take a water sample at this stage, as this gives you time to action unfavourable results.  
  • 2-3 days before reopening: you should raise the temperature at hot water storage vessels/calorifier(s) to 60°C and turn the hot water taps on at every outlet.  Continue to flush the water until the temperature remains stable.  Those carrying out these checks are most at risk from the bacteria and must take precautions, such as covering spray taps with a clean cloth, or placing a clean plastic bag over a showerhead that cannot be removed, and cutting a corner of the bag.  Continue to flush the system regularly until the building is back in regular use.  Again, ensure you log all these actions.
  • If your workplace has been closed for an extended period and has air conditioning units that have a source of water that can generate aerosol, you will need to assess the risks of legionella being present within them before restarting. Small wall or ceiling-mounted units with closed cooling systems should not present a risk.

Larger units may present a risk if they have improperly drained condensate trays, or humidifier or evaporative cooling sections where water can stagnate, becoming a reservoir for bacteria to grow.

You must also update your Legionella risk assessment with any changes made to the water system or its operation and ensure the written control scheme is also updated.  You must also decide what the risks are for your air conditioning units and if you need to clean them safely before they are turned on.

More information is available on the HSE website and in Guidance produced by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) - Legionnaires’ disease: lockdown risks and reopening safely.
 

The risk of air conditioning spreading coronavirus is extremely low.  If you use a centralised ventilation system that removes and circulates air to different rooms, it is recommended that you turn off recirculation and use a fresh air supply.

You do not need to adjust other types of air conditioning systems. If you’re unsure, speak to your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers. Good ventilation is encouraged to help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

If your workplace has been closed for an extended period and has air conditioning units that have a source of water that can generate aerosol, you will however need to assess the risks of legionella being present within them before restarting.
 

There may be potential challenges when carrying out legal requirements for a thorough examination and testing (TE&T) of plant and equipment as a result of additional precautions people need to take to help reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The law for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) and Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR) remain in place.

You must ensure that your work plant and equipment are and remain safe to use.  

HSE has provided advice to help duty holders ensure that their work plant and equipment remain safe to use and to guide decision making to see if TE&T requirements can still be met. For information visit the HSE website.
 

Remote working should remain the default position for those who can. Those whose job relies on being in the office can be asked to return, assuming safe working practices have been implemented. 

Workplaces that are unable to resume under Phase 2 guidance can undertake preparatory work to support physical distancing and hygiene measures in this phase. 

For general information visit ACAS

 

Those working outside will only be undertaking work that ensures physical distancing can be maintained. Any work that requires COVID-19 PPE will not be undertaken until at least 20 July 2020 so that demand for PPE does not impact on NHS provision and performance.  

Physical distancing will be treated the same as any other health and safety matter with monitoring of compliance carried out. 

  

From Monday 22 June the construction sector can implement the remaining phases of their restart plan. Find out about Construction Industry Guidance from the Scottish Government

The government have stated that the industry can now progress to phase 2 of the restart plan. They have issued guidance for construction sites and associated works that can continue under specific conditions.  Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making - Scotland's route map through and out of the crisis 

Council construction sites will be getting back to work in a phased approach. We have been working with our contractors planning the COVID-19 pre-start site preparation. In line with the construction sector response above, contractors can implement the remaining stages of phased return only after compliance with the Phase 1 requirements as set out within the Scottish Government’s guidance document: Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making - Scotland's route map through and out of the crisis 

You must only report cases of COVID-19 matters arising out of or in connection with work under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) under the following circumstances:  

  • an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
  • a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
  • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus.

Employers need to have reasonable evidence that the COVID-19 element is work-related.  More information is available from HSE: RIDDOR reporting

Handwashing 

Staff should be trained to wash their hands properly following an effective handwashing technique, washing hands for the required 20 seconds with soap and water. The importance of thorough and effective handwashing must be reinforced throughout your premises. Every wash hand basin must have access to hot water and be equipped with liquid hand soap and disposable paper towels. 

It is important to follow an effective handwashing technique to ensure that no areas of your hands are missed.  The same technique should be followed when using hand sanitisers. Commonly missed areas are fingertips and thumbs. 

Hand sanitisers 

The use of hand sanitiser should not be used as a substitute for effective handwashing.   Strict and frequent hand hygiene should be ensured, with alcohol-based hand sanitisers being used when hand washing is not available. 

Hand sanitiser dispensers should not be placed above or close to potential sources of ignition, such as light switches and electrical outlets due to the increased risk of vapours igniting. 

Staff should be advised to let their hands completely dry and the vapours disperse after using alcohol hand sanitiser.  Staff should also be advised not to smoke immediately after use.  

As part of your risk assessment, concerning fires, consideration should be given to the location of dispensers, the storage of stock, and the disposal of used containers/dispensers. 

Face coverings 

In guidance issued by The Scottish Government, face coverings (not surgical or medical-grade masks) are recommended to be considered in enclosed spaces where physical distancing is more difficult. For example, when using public transport or when entering a shops where it is not possible to keep 2m away from other people. Face coverings do not protect the wearer but they may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.  

Wearing of face coverings must not be used as an alternative to physical distancing, handwashing and respiratory hygiene.   

The Government has stated that it does not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for their health and safety assessments.  Therefore, we will not accept the wearing of masks or face coverings as a control instead of physical distancing for the protection of employees working in an establishment, where physical distancing is manageable (e.g. not manageable in care homes). 

If a face mask (PPE) was required for your job before, because of dust, etc., you must ensure your employees are still provided with sufficient supplies for them to carry out their role safely. 

Taking employees’ temperature  

Relying on taking the temperature of employees alone is not a robust control, as it will only detect people who have a fever (i.e. a higher than normal body temperature).  It cannot detect whether someone is infected with COVID-19. 

Just like face coverings above, we will not accept the taking of temperatures of staff at the start of their working day as a control instead of implementing proper physical distancing, where it is achievable, and high standards of premises cleanliness and staff hygiene.  Discuss symptoms with employees before they start every shift, and check whether they – or any person they live with – are experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19.   

There is a wealth of information available on the NHS Inform website about the symptoms of COVID-19 and what you should do if you think you have any of these symptoms.  This advice is available in several languages on the website.
If an employee attends work displaying any of the symptoms: 

  • A new continuous cough
  • A high temperature 
  • A loss of or change in sense of taste or smell 

They should be sent home straight away to self-isolate.  They should minimise contact with others and use a private vehicle to travel home.  If private transport is not possible then they should be advised to return home quickly and directly.  If they need clinical advice, they should go online to NHS 111 or call 111 if they do not have access to the internet. 
If another member of staff had helped someone displaying these symptoms they do not need to go home unless they start displaying symptoms themselves.  They should however wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone unwell with symptoms consistent with Coronavirus infection.

Cleaning and disinfection should be carried out after a possible case has left the workplace.

Guidance on appropriate environmental decontamination can be found at the Health Protection Scotland website.
 


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