Updated Welsh Government Guidance - Minimising the Risk of Coronavirus in Workplaces and Public Premises
- AuthorCatherine Almeida
The Welsh Government has publicised new guidance on taking reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus in workplaces and premises open to the public.
By way of background to the guidance, The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No 14) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/862) came into force on 17 July 2021. The key points for persons responsible for "regulated premises", which include premises "where work is being carried out", are to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus, which includes the following:
- The requirement to provide information to those working at the premises about the assessment of the risk of exposure to coronavirus and the measures to be taken to minimise the risk.
- The requirement to take all reasonable measures to ensure that two metres is maintained between those on the premises now only applies indoors. However, there is still a duty to take reasonable measures to mitigate risks outdoors, which may include limiting close physical interaction between people on the premises.
The Welsh Government published updated guidance relating to this on 19 July 2021 which can be found here.
In brief, some of key points from the guidance are:
- Persons responsible for premises open to the public or for work premises to carry out a specific assessment of the risk of exposure to coronavirus in relation to the premises in consultation with those who work on the premises or their representatives (such as a trade union). It is not enough to simply conduct a Risk Assessment – it should form the basis for the reasonable measures eventually taken
- Person responsible for the premises must provide information to those working at the premises about the risk of exposure to coronavirus identified under the risk assessment, and the measures to be taken to minimise the risk
- When considering what reasonable measures should be taken at any premises, those responsible should make an assessment of risk which is specific to all of the activities undertaken at the workplace and should be updated if new activities are added. This includes taking into account all individuals who use or visit that setting including permanent and temporary staff, contractors, visitors and members of the public
- Where the responsible person is an employer who employs 5 or more employees the employer must record the significant findings of the risk assessment and any group of employees identified as being especially at risk
- A ‘reasonable measure’ is undefined and can vary within different functions of an organisation as well as between sectors. Reasonable measures include enabling workers who are required to self-isolate because they have tested positive for Coronavirus, or are a close contact of someone who has tested positive to do so
- As “reasonable measures” there is an expectation that employers should be flexible and make adjustments wherever that is possible to enable work from home that to happen
- There is a list of factors provided which persons responsible may wish to take into account when deciding if a measure is reasonable, such as cost
- Information should be provided to those on the premises about how to minimise risk of exposure to coronavirus on premises
- There is separate guidance for manufacturing which can be found here
- There are additional requirements where premises are selling or supplying alcohol for consumption on the premises or allowing alcohol brought to the premises by customers to be consumed there
- For Retail premises the person responsible must:-
- Control the entry to the premises and limit the number of customers who are on the premises at any one time
- Provide hand sanitisation products or hand washing facilities for people when they enter and leave the premises
- Ensure any baskets or trolleys used by people on the premises are sanitised
- In order to Remind customers of the need to maintain 2 metre distance and to wear coverings, display signs or other visual aids like floor markings, and make regular announcements
There is also a new template which can be used for a COVID-19 risk assessment in Wales which can be found here.