Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 2: supporting evidence for moving to Phase 2 of Scotland's route map

This publication provides an assessment of the evidence to help inform the decision to move to Phase 2 of Scotland's route map.

WHO criterion 4: Preventive measures are established in workplaces

WHO criterion 4: Preventive measures are established in workplaces, with physical distancing, handwashing facilities and respiratory etiquette in place, and potentially thermal monitoring.

We have been clear that our economic restart can be only be achieved safely and this must be built around three pillars:

  • successful measures to suppress the virus;
  • guidance that promotes fair and safe workplaces and sectors; and
  • the right structures for workplace regulation.

Legislation and Regulation

Employers have a statutory duty under Occupational Health and Safety legislation, which is reserved to the UK Government. The regulatory authority is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The HSE has recently reinterpreted the Health and Safety and Work Act 1974 to recognise that infection by the SARS-Cov-2 virus is an occupational risk and that employers must undertake a risk assessment for transmission and put in place appropriate mitigations, such as physical distancing. For those not covered by HSE, the enforcing authority is local authority Environmental Health, acting under HSE guidance.

Workplaces are required to achieve physical distancing under the emergency lockdown regulations. Again the enforcing authority is local authority (Environmental Health and Trading Standards). Local authority officers can take action on either basis, depending on circumstances. Their approach is currently based on Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce (the 4 Es), so they seek to obtain compliance voluntarily where they can.

Officials are working with the wider health and safety community in Scotland, and specifically with Healthy Working Lives and Scottish Hazards around extending access to trustworthy information and advice on addressing the COVID-19 threat in the workplace, particularly for SMEs and for employees with concerns.

The Scottish Government has issued a joint statement with HSE, local authorities and Police Scotland that sets out the importance of safe working, of the role of the regulators and the importance of engaging the workforce and union health and safety representatives in undertaking risk assessments and putting in place means of safe working. For workplaces without union representation union health and safety representatives will be available upon request to support the development of workplace risk assessments.

Officials are also working with a wide range of stakeholders, including, trades unions, Local Authorities and the Health and Safety Executive to consider ways that businesses could demonstrate to staff and customers that they are operating safely in accordance with guidance and regulations. Potential assurance options include building extra capacity within Local Authorities to check businesses are taking steps to implement guidance and regulations


We have been working with business and industry organisations, trades unions and regulators to develop sectoral guidance on safe working. This is in addition to workplace and public health guidance which has been developed by the UK Government, HSE and Public Health Scotland.

There are many examples of good practice which are being shared within and across sectors, particularly from essential businesses who have been operating throughout lockdown.

Guidance is being prioritised to support the phasing set out in our Route-Map. We have already produced guidance for retail, manufacturing, construction, forestry and environmental management, food and drink, transport, waste and recycling and parts of agriculture. Further guidance is in development for a range of other sectors, including creative arts, energy, finance, technology, house moving, culture, call/contact centres, labs and research, tourism and hospitality.

Details of guidance and statements on regulation can be found at:



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