Workforce planning and support
- protecting people who are at higher risk
- physical distancing
- handling goods, merchandise and other materials
- travel to work
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- COVID-19 symptoms in the workplace
- dealing with emergencies
- deliveries, distribution and contractors
Plans to re-open a soft play centre/ facility should be developed in consultation with the workforce and updated on an ongoing basis. Planning must be based around risk assessments and safe systems of work, emphasising physical distancing, hand washing and surface and equipment cleaning and fair work principles. Plans should aim to allow organisations to restart whilst protecting worker health and wellbeing.
Physical distancing and hygiene measures including deep clean of equipment
will require work to be carried out before a restart, for example the installation of screens, one-way systems, physical distancing zones, re-design of some area and provision of hand sanitiser stations or hand wash stations, as well clear signage for staff and service users.
Returning workers may have some level of apprehension about their safety and the safety of those within their household. A clear message from organisation and trade unions is that building and maintaining worker confidence is vitally important and a challenge that should not be underestimated. Nobody should go to work if their workplace is closed under current government regulations.
As a minimum we expect:
- new organisational arrangements to be tested and modified through collaboration between organisations and workers
- organisations to take travel to work, current schooling arrangements and childcare considerations into account in decisions around a phased restart, noting the disproportionate impact that these considerations have on women
- health factors to be considered in any phasing of who returns to work, with workers living in at risk or shielded households only expected to return when new safe working environment measures have been implemented and a return to the workplace is consistent with individual medical advice. Those identified as being at the highest risk from COVID-19 should follow the most up to date advice
- the health, including mental health, and wellbeing of workers to be considered
- home working to continue where this is possible - Full home working guidance provides more information for employers on this. Please also see the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice on home working for further information
The following guides from the Health and Safety Executive provide useful sources of information:
- Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak – a short guide
- Talking with your workers about working safely during the coronavirus outbreak
The shielding category consists of those who have been identified as being at the highest risk from severe illness from COVID-19. Further advice on shielding is available in Coronavirus COVID-19 shielding advice and support guidance.
Working from home and working flexibly where possible should remain the best option for people who had been shielding and for those who are carers for people who are shielding. Employers should support people to safely return to work and ensure they can stringently follow public health guidance around physical distancing and hygiene.
If those at increased risk cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to maintain physical distancing. Workplace activities should be carefully assessed to identify if they involve an unacceptable level of risk.
An individual risk assessment guidance and tool has been developed to help staff and managers consider the specific risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. It is relevant to all staff, but will be particularly relevant to those who are returning to work after shielding, those who are returning to normal duties after COVID-19 related restrictions, those who are returning to the workplace after working from home or anyone who has a concern about a particular vulnerability to COVID-19.
In addition to the existing legal responsibilities under the Equality Act, there are other issues that employers need to consider to ensure workplaces are inclusive and are taking account of the impact of COVID-19 on particular groups, such as women, disabled people and people from ethnic minority communities. Read further information about the impact.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Scotland have produced specific guidance for employers and guidance for public sector employers about equality impact assessments about having due regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty and Scottish Specific Duties during the pandemic.
Physical distancing of 2 metres between all persons on site over the age of 12 must be maintained wherever possible, including between members of staff. Exception to this would be any contained hospitality areas of the premises (such as restaurant, café) which would be subject to the Hospitality statutory guidance. Factors to consider, beyond those already listed, include:
- centre layout and signage with clear marking of physical distancing boundaries around the centre and signage which reinforces expectations of workers at relevant points
- limiting access to parts of the workplace required by an individual to do their job as this will limit chances for interaction with others
- staggering break times to reduce larger numbers of staff interacting on a face to face basis
- limit numbers in break areas and remove extra seating
- splitting the workforce into teams / bubbles to avoid cross-team contamination and provide a level of operational resilience in case someone in one team develops COVID-19 symptoms. Staff should maintain physical distancing, even in their bubbles. Further advice on work cohorts / bubbles is available in the Coronavirus COVID-19 general guidance for safer workplaces
- encouraging workers to bring their own food
- using protective screening for staff in public facing areas
- regulating use of locker rooms, changing areas and other facility areas to reduce concurrent usage
- encouraging storage of personal items and clothing in personal storage spaces, for example lockers, during working hours
- considering use of physical distance marking for areas such as toilets, showers, lockers and changing rooms and in any other areas where queues typically form
Physical distancing applies to all parts of a business, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms, smoking areas, car parks and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain physical distancing in and may require clear communication and supervision to ensure mitigation measures are followed.
The following actions can help to reduce transmission from objects and materials at the workplace:
- cleaning and sanitising procedures for goods and merchandise entering the site
- regular cleaning and sanitising of reusable delivery boxes
- Introducing handwashing facilities/sanitiser for workers handling goods and merchandise
- restricting non-business deliveries
- ensuring physical distancing and hygiene measures are followed where possible when supplies etc. are delivered
- collecting items in bulk to reduce the frequency of collections
- removing waste in bulk if possible
Public Health Scotland has provided COVID-19 information and guidance for general (non-healthcare) settings stating people should not travel if they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms. The PHS advice and any subsequent safe travelling advice should be factored into company decisions on planned returns to work.
Transport Scotland have produced guidance to assist the public to travel safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is important that the latest version is read.
Coming to work and leaving work
The following measures should be considered:
- staggering arrival and departure times to reduce crowding into and out of the workplace, taking account of impacts on those with protected characteristics and caring responsibilities for example noting the staggered school and nursery start and finishing times
- providing handwashing facilities, or hand sanitiser where not possible, at entry and exit points
- using markings and introducing one-way flow at entrances/exits
- providing additional parking or facilities such as bike racks to help people walk, run, or cycle to work where possible
- limiting passengers in corporate vehicles
- providing more storage for workers’ clothes and bags
- discourage car sharing to and from work (please see guidance on car and vehicle sharing
PPE protects users against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes face masks and respiratory protective equipment, such as Respirators.
HPS guidance for general (non-healthcare) settings offers advice on the use of PPE, confirming organisations should continue to use any PPE required as per local policies (business as usual) and in line with measures justified by a risk assessment. Both the Scottish Government and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend a risk based approach focused on a hierarchy of control which seeks to eliminate risks, combat risks at source, adapt workplaces to individual needs, ensure adequate staff training around processes to manage the risk and then use PPE where required. Where PPE is deemed necessary, an adequate supply and quality must be maintained which is provided free of charge to workers and which must fit properly. Note that face coverings are not considered PPE and are covered separately in previous section)
Emergency, evacuation, accident and first aid response processes need to be considered to ensure effective arrangements, which meet physical distancing requirements, are in place. Everyone onsite should be familiar with new processes.
The interpretation and use of guidance should be considered in line with normal protective security operations and practices. Organisations should 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/police CT 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 at risk of 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, organisations should ensure additional suitable staff resource is made available. Organisations 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.
As a minimum we expect organisations to:
- provide early clarity to supply chain about honouring orders in the system
- treat all site visitors as if they were workers, providing the same protections and expecting them to follow the same rules
Organisations should consider limiting site access to those who need to be there for safe operation, ensuring safe working practices and production related activities. They should implement a permit to work system for external contractors who need to access the site. Requirements which should be considered include:
- providing handwashing and hand sanitiser and encourage contractors to wash their hands regularly
- where site visits are required, provide clear guidance on physical distancing and hygiene to people on arrival, for example, signage, visual aids and before arrival, such as by phone, on the website or by email
- regulating entry so that the premises do not become overcrowded, and placing physical distancing markers on the floor
- determining if schedules for essential services and contractor visits can be revised to reduce interaction and overlap between people
- maintaining a record of all contractors if this is practical