Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): public libraries guidance

Published: 5 Mar 2021
Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 - see all updates

Information and advice to help public libraries re-open safely.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): public libraries guidance
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
  • public library services 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 production

Workforce training

Every workplace should look and feel substantially different for employees and volunteers. 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 service-specific measures and expectations of staff while onsite, in a way which maintains physical distancing. Public library services 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. 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.  


Employers should also put in place, with trade union or workforce representatives, robust local arrangements to monitor compliance with new operational arrangements. Remedial actions should flow from that monitoring, and be augmented by advice, guidance and support from external enforcement authorities.

It is vital during restart for workers to have confidence in the steps being taken by their employers. Employers should look to establish processes to allow employee and volunteer feedback on physical distancing and safety protocols, enabling employees and volunteers to input on areas of concern and for employers to act upon these concerns.

A single point of contact has also been established for trade union or workforce to help the Scottish Government understand how all COVID-19 workplace guidance is being implemented, and to help shape and refine that guidance based on the real experience of workers in the workplace. The mailbox can be contacted by email: This contact is not intended to be a reporting mechanism for potential breaches of legislation.

Under the Health and Safety etc. Act 1974 (HSWA), your Local Authority Environmental Health Service (HSE) will usually be the relevant enforcing authority for how you control the risk of coronavirus in public library services. In some cases, it may be the HSE but, in any case, enforcing authorities will apply the same requirements. HSE can be contacted by phone on 03000 003 1647 or online at HSE contact form.

Local authorities also have powers under public health legislation, for example, covering whether businesses should be operating, the requirement to take all reasonable measures to maintain 1 metre distancing, or to ensure your workers in the shielded category can follow the NHS advice to self-isolate for the period specified.

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.



First published: 5 Mar 2021 Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 -