Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for laboratories and research facilities

Guidance for laboratories and research facilities, including those on university campuses, on safer working during the coronavirus pandemic.

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for laboratories and research facilities
Training and compliance

Training and compliance

As a minimum we expect:

  • training around processes and working environment expectations to be provided for all staff before restarting work

  • organisations to establish measures, in collaboration with trade union or workforce representatives, to monitor compliance with relevant regulations and processes put in place to enable a safe return to operation

Workforce training

Every workplace should look and feel substantially different for employees, staff and students. Physical distancing and enhanced hygiene will change how workplaces operate. Training will therefore be essential to build a common understanding of requirements within the new working norm, instilling confidence that changes put in place contribute to a safe workplace.

Training methods should ensure effective delivery of relevant overarching and organisation-specific measures and expectations of staff while on-site, in a way which maintains physical distancing.

Organisations should consider, as part of their risk based planning, how training can be safely delivered, especially if elements are normally outsourced to third parties.

Visual aids may be required as part of the training and for ongoing guidance and communications.

Training should also be in place for staff who undertake the cleaning of a premises.

Some organisations have initiated a universal induction process covering their new, enhanced hygiene and physical distancing measures. This induction process can help demonstrate organisations are taking the COVID-19 risks seriously, building confidence amongst the workforce that they are returning to a safe workplace while also reinforcing the importance of individual employee responsibilities.

Compliance

As a minimum we expect: 

  • organisations to establish measures, in collaboration with trade union or workforce representatives to monitor compliance with relevant regulations and processes put in place to enable safe working

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA), your relevant enforcing authority (for how you control the risk of coronavirus) will be either: 

  • the Local Authority (LA) Environmental Health Service 
  • the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

The relevant enforcing authority is listed for all types of premises. The enforcing authorities will apply the same requirements. 

HSE can be contacted by phone on 0300 003 1647 or online at HSE contact form

HSE and LAs Environmental Health Services have agreed to maintain the way they allocate different businesses for enforcement according to existing health and safety law for the purposes of workers’ health and safety. 

Where the enforcing authority identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with public health guidance to control COVID-19 health risks to workers, 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 or even prosecution.

Organisations should put in place robust local arrangements to monitor compliance with new operational arrangements. This should be done with trade union or workforce representatives. Advice, guidance and support from external enforcement authorities should be sought where necessary. 

A single point of contact has also been established for trade unions and workers to help us understand how all COVID-19 workplace guidance is being implemented. This will help shape and refine guidance based on the real experience of workers in the workplace. 

This contact is not intended to be a reporting mechanism for potential breaches of legislation.

Security

The interpretation and use of any guidance should be considered in line with normal protective security operations and practices. Organisations should consult with and involve their security departments in the interpretation and implementation of the guidance. In particular, security should be considered in any revised risk assessment.

Under no circumstances do we advise the removal, or alteration of, or reduction in, existing protective security measures without providing clear recommendations (e.g. from the National Technical Authority or police counter-terrorism specialists) on how to maintain effective protective security.

This should extend to measures not primarily intended to provide a protective security benefit, but nonetheless doing so, for example removal of street furniture that could make moving or queueing pedestrians more vulnerable to vehicle-as-a-weapon attacks. Security staff should remain focused on security duties. Where COVID-19 creates additional staffing requirements, e.g. for queue management, employers should ensure additional suitable staff resource is made available. Employers should ensure security staff feel safe, e.g. having access to appropriate PPE and hand-washing facilities, and that they are able and confident to raise any concerns.

Read further detailed guidance on security:

www.cpni.gov.uk/staying-secure-during-covid-19-0

www.gov.uk/government/organisations/national-counter-terrorism-security-office

Page last updated: 7 September 2020


First published: 29 Jun 2020 Last updated: 14 Sep 2020 -