Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): manufacturing sector guidance

Guidance for the manufacturing sector including procedures to plan for and maintain a safe place for all during the coronavirus pandemic.

32.1 kB

32.1 kB

Coronavirus (COVID-19): manufacturing sector guidance

32.1 kB


This guidance is for manufacturing sites in Scotland. It came into effect on 26 May 2020, extending until further notice and applies to companies manufacturing in Scotland. In line with the requirement to regularly review this guidance, it has been reviewed and updated on 19 June, 7 July, 28 July, 20 August, 8 September, 29 September, 26 October, 30 October and 14 December 2020, and 8 January 2021.

The guidance sets out the Scottish Government’s expectations on the steps manufacturing businesses will take before and after reopening. This is provided as guidance only and does not amount to legal advice. Businesses may wish to seek their own advice to ensure compliance with all legal requirements.

We have worked with employers and trade unions from the manufacturing sector to ensure that this guidance is evidence-based, fair and ethical, clear and realistic. As each workplace is different it is for individual businesses to work with trade union or workforce representatives to determine how best to apply this guidance in their circumstances.

This guide is underpinned by a spirit of collaborative working between companies and their workforce. Throughout the term companies and trade union or workforce representatives is used in that context, recognising that companies have a legal responsibility to maintain workplace health and safety and must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there is not one, a representative chosen by workers. Companies cannot decide who the workforce representative will be. 

This guidance is one of a set of documents about how to work safely in different types of workplace. This guidance is for use by manufacturing sites in Scotland. The original version set out our expectations on what manufacturers of all sizes and sub-sectors needed to consider as part of their ongoing operations or planning for restart. While all manufacturing could restart on 29 June, the principles in this guidance remain valid and it establishes a framework for ongoing action to ensure those workplaces continue to change and operate safely. The guidance emphasises in particular the importance of undertaking a robust and ongoing risk based assessment with full input from trade union or workforce representatives, and to keep all risk mitigation measures under regular review so that workplaces continue to feel, and be, safe.

Publication of this guidance reflects the changes set out by the introduction of Phase 2 of the route-map out of lockdown, were current for the introduction of Phase 3 on 9 July and remain current for the introduction of the Strategic Framework and levels-based approach to protective measures on 2 November. At this time, all manufacturing businesses can operate, subject to having robust risk assessments, physical distancing and enhanced hygiene measures in place. It is important we continue to collectively mitigate against the second surge in infection, to minimise the further harm to our health, society and economy. To judge whether and when restrictions could be changed, we have considered a range of evidence on the progress of the pandemic in Scotland, using the principles set out in Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making and our long-established commitment to fair work, which was set in the context of the current crisis in a joint statement with the STUC (which we have taken into account when developing this guidance).

We published the Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis on 21 May. This set out the phases by which we will aim to move out of lockdown when the time is right.

Essential ongoing manufacturing has provided an invaluable source of good practice on adaptations made to working arrangements due to COVID-19 to ensure a safe place of work. This experience is taken into account in the remainder of this guidance, which sets out our minimum expectations across five key areas companies should have considered as part of their planning for a restart and ongoing production while minimising the transmission of the virus:

  • assessing risk: involving the workforce in a risk based approach to a safer workplace
  • workforce planning: supporting those who should come to work, and those who should not
  • operational guide and checklist: changing the workplace environment to protect your workforce
  • deliveries, distribution and visitors: protecting your workforce and those who come on-site
  • training and compliance

The regulator for health and safety at work is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who will utilise the powers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure people at work are protected.

If you can suggest ways we can improve the guidance please contact the Advanced Manufacturing Policy Team at


Advanced Manufacturing Policy Team


First published: 20 Aug 2020 Last updated: 8 Jan 2021 -