Health and safety
This document should be used as a guide to inform local decision making. Professional and risk-informed judgements must be used to design your local COVID-19 action plans. Employers, managers, staff and volunteers must be satisfied that it is safe to resume service provision for everyone involved. Continued service delivery should be informed by regular review as behaviour, needs or national guidance from Public Health Scotland changes.
‘Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers have a general duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees and others. During the COVID-19 outbreak, duty holders continue to have obligations to comply with health and safety at work legislation and requirements to manage and control workplace risks, including protecting workers and others from the risk of COVID-19 infection in the workplace. Where HSE identifies that appropriate measures are not taken they will consider a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks including the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices. These actions will be taken under existing Health and Safety law.
There are other issues that employers need to consider to ensure workplaces are inclusive. The Equality and Human Rights Commission can provide advice on a range of issues such as non-discrimination, communication with employees on equality issues, adjustments for disabled people, support for pregnant employees, flexible working for those with caring responsibilities, support for employees affected by domestic abuse, how to deal with harassment at work, and mental health issues. Close the Gap, through their Think Business Think Equality toolkit, have produced guidance on employers supporting employees affected by domestic abuse during the pandemic and a more general online self-assessment resource for employers on domestic abuse. The RNIB also provide information on employing partially sighted and blind workers during COVID, and a COVID risk assessment tool
Equalities and Human Rights
The Equality and Human Rights Commission have slightly updated our guidance for employers to make it more relevant to decisions about return to work. Found here: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-employers. A link to this guide should be included within your sectoral guidance and please consider how you can promote it to your stakeholders.
Under RIDDOR - Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, there is a duty on employers to report some circumstances of COVID-19 to the Health and Safety Executive. The HSE website outlines the circumstances of when the HSE should be informed and provides specific guidance on what constitutes a diagnosis and making a judgement on reasonable evidence of occupational exposure.
There is an increased risk of Legionnaire’s Disease when buildings have been out of use, or not running at full capacity. This is because water systems may become stagnant when not in use, increasing the risk of legionella within water supplies. Many public and office buildings have been closed during the COVID-19 crisis, making legionella a legitimate concern as lockdown restrictions are eased.
The Health and Safety Executive have published advice on the risk of Legionella in buildings which are closed or running with reduced occupancy during the COVID-19 crisis. This can be found on the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) website.
CLD providers should follow the information outlined by the Health and Safety Executive. Where CLD providers rent or let premises from a third party, they should confirm that Legionella testing has been carried out prior to restarting services.
If you would like to provide feedback or have any questions related to this guidance please email Elisha.Fisher@gov.scot