Respiratory infections including Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer workplaces and public settings

Guidance for businesses and workplaces (including transport operators) on reducing the risk of respiratory infections including COVID-19 and supporting staff and customers.

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Risk assessment

Employers have a duty to consult with their employees, or their representatives, on health and safety matters. While not legally required it is strongly recommended that you continue to consider respiratory infection transmission as part of your assurance procedures. Public Health Scotland has guidance on how to carry out risk assessments that sets out further detail.

The Health and Safety Executive has guidance on how to keep people safe and healthy at work.  

Considering control measures as part of how your workplace or organisation operates can support your organisational resilience, and the continuity of your operations. The most important thing is what you actually do to manage and control risk on the premises.

Some actions you may wish to take in line with your risk assessment are:


  • maximising ventilation and the use of outside space, if possible
  • businesses may wish to recommend people wear a face covering in areas where the risk of transmission is higher or where your risk assessment supports the wearing of them, noting exemptions where individuals may be unable to
  • reinforcing enhanced cleaning, particularly of frequently touched surfaces and applying and reinforcing hygiene measures such as cough and sneeze etiquette and by providing hand sanitiser
  • considering allowing more space between people to reduce transmission
  • consider using screens and partitions
  • consider asking people to maintain at least 1 metre physical distancing where possible and supporting the distance aware scheme
  • managing the use of congested areas in premises such as narrow corridors, staircases, doorways, communal areas and storage areas and reviewing use of shared areas such as changing rooms to reduce the numbers of people using them at the same time


  • continuing to support people to stay at home if they experience symptoms of a respiratory infection, to follow the latest NHS Inform Winter Illness guidance and know how to get the right care in the right place
  • encouraging the uptake of vaccination
  • minimising the overall contacts between people in the premises, for example: if you are an employer encouraging hybrid and flexible working, and considering online or hybrid meetings, where possible
  • considering those people who were on the highest risk list, including their preferences for home based, hybrid or flexible working where this is possible, or discussing any further adjustments
  • regularly communicating with people through reminders such as signage and via staff, customer or service user communications, so that people know what steps to take to minimise transmission, or discussing what distance aware means for your staff or customers
  • continuing to work with those who work on the premises such as staff, or staff representatives, on public health and health and safety matters
  • providing staff/volunteer training around any processes or adaptations
  • encouraging people to travel safely, allowing flexible start and finish times if possible and ensuring vehicles are well ventilated by opening windows

When managing the risk of transmission in your premises no one measure assures that transmission will be stopped. The more steps you take to reduce transmission, the safer the environment you can provide. 



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