The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Government Suggests Post-Lockdown Workplace Measures 

Government Suggests Post-Lockdown Workplace Measures 
04 May 2020 | Updated 14 May 2020

Ahead of Boris Johnson revealing his lockdown exit strategy this week, a draft government plan to ease anti-coronavirus restrictions has been revealed by the BBC.

The document allegedly urges employers to minimise numbers using equipment, stagger shift times and maximise home-working. Additional hygiene procedures, physical screens and the use of PPE should be considered where maintaining distancing of 2m (6ft) between workers is impossible.

However, the BBC has reported that the specific PPE section only reads that "more detail" will follow.

"Businesses should also look to the advice being published by trade associations and similar groups on how to work out government guidance in their sector."

– website


Current guidance on social distancing in the workplace during coronavirus


The current published advice (correct a time of reporting Monday 4 May 2020)  for employers looking to plan their return to the workplace suggests specific measure for different sectors, such as:

  • Tradespeople carrying out essential repairs and maintenance in people’s homes – You can continue work, providing that you are well and have no symptoms. You should notify all clients in advance of your arrival. On entry to the home you should wash your hands using soap and water for 20 seconds. You should wash your hands regularly, particularly after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, and when leaving the property. You should maintain a safe distance (at least 2 metres) from any household occupants at all times, and ensure good ventilation in the area where you are working, including opening the window
  • Construction – You should plan work to minimise contact between workers and avoid skin-to-skin and face-to-face contact. Where face-to-face contact is essential, this should be kept to 15 minutes or less wherever possible. As much as possible, keep groups of workers working together in teams that are as small as possible (cohorting). Staff should also wash their hands each time before getting into enclosed machinery (such as diggers) with others, and wash their hands every time they get out. Employees should keep the windows of enclosed machinery or enclosed spaces open for ventilation and be careful to avoid touching their face at all times. The inside of cabs should be regularly cleaned, particularly between use by different operators. You should try to use stairs in preference to lifts or hoists
  • Manufacturing and processing – You should increase the frequency of cleaning procedures, pausing production in the day if necessary for cleaning staff to wipe down workstations with disinfectant. You should assign staff to the same shift teams to limit social interaction. You should not allow staff to congregate in break times; you should consider arrangements such as staggered break times so that staff can continue to practice social distancing when taking breaks
  • Logistics – To protect your staff, you should remind colleagues daily to only come into work if they are well and no one in their household is self-isolating. You should also put up signage and floor markings in the warehouse, encouraging a 2 metre distance from colleagues where it is at all feasible
  • Waste management On waste sorting and picking lines staff should observe the same rules as for Manufacturing. You should allow frequent cleaning and disinfecting of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using standard cleaning products, particularly at the end and beginning of shifts. When staff are sharing an enclosed space, such as in refuse and waste collection vehicle cabs and are unable to maintain a 2 metre distance, they should wash their hands for 20 seconds or longer before getting into, or after getting out of, the vehicle, or use hand sanitiser where handwashing is not possible


The above are highlighted examples from a wider advice document, and full suggested guidelines can be found here.


How are businesses managing it currently?


Contracting and interior fit-out group Willmott Dixon has published details on how they have already been adapting to guidelines to continue to work on key projects.

Willmott Dixon has over 95 per cent of its projects open after implementing the Construction Leadership Council's (CLC) Site Operating Procedures to ensure sites remain safe environments to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Willmott Dixon has been able to maintain its high rate of sites kept open by adhering to social distancing practices, and has provided a glimpse of how that is happening at Stockton’s Grade Two listed Globe Theatre. Willmott Dixon was appointed by Stockton Council renovate the building as a 3,000-capacity music and comedy venue.

"One-way systems were implemented on staircases to avoid paths being crossed and two-metre spacing was marked for safe working. "

–Mark Wolverson

Construction Manager, Wilmott Dixon 

Construction manager Mark Wolverson explains how the project adapted to working during the Covid-19 pandemic:

“Following the Prime Minister’s announcement about the lockdown, our first action was to review who needed to be on-site and who could work from home.  This led to the reallocation of design and commercial personnel to home working environments. 

Signage outside Globe

Picture: A warning sign at the Globe site

“Also, our site’s offices are in a large building adjacent to the Globe, so this allowed us to space desks to abide by the two-metre social distancing requirements.  Within the theatre itself, one-way systems were implemented on staircases to avoid paths being crossed and two-metre spacing was marked for safe working. 

“To further the social distancing message, we installed motion-activated voiceover systems to remind operatives to abide by social distancing when entering the site, while hand sanitiser is plentiful and available in meeting rooms, on desks, and all site entrances and exits.”


Communication remains key


Extensive communication underlines the message, “Each morning we hold ‘toolbox talks’ with our people and supply chain partners.  These meetings explain the latest guidance and operating procedures, ensuring everyone knows how they are expected to work within the guidelines.  The talks are held in large open spaces, allowing everyone to abide by the two-metre rule.  If anyone shows symptoms of the Coronavirus or needs to self-isolate, they are empowered to do so, and it is critical they abide by this directive.”

Mark continues, “The safety of our people and supply chain extends beyond the project’s boundaries.  Everyone has a letter explaining their need to be outside their home in case they are questioned by law enforcement.”


Confidence returns amongst the supply chain


Mark continues, “Through our safe working practices, we are seeing more supply chain partners returning on a weekly basis, which is enabling more tasks to be completed.  We have had supply chain partners comment they feel safer on-site in comparison to their local supermarket, and are pleased to be able to continue their work.”

Picture: An example of signage to be distributed around workplaces, advising of social distancing measures

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 04 May 2020


Related Articles

Facilities Managers Should Introduce “Stricter” COVID Measures

With COVID-secure guidelines set to become a legal obligation, Bureau Veritas has advised that facilities managers must step up with a more robust and formalised...

 Read Full Article
New Grants Available for Businesses Affected By Local Lockdowns

Ministers have announced that businesses in England that are required to shut because of local interventions will now be able to claim up to £1,500 per property...

 Read Full Article
PM Announces Additional Relaxation of Lockdown Measures

Boris Johnson has just announced additional easing of the lockdown in England, including changes to the two-metre social distancing rule. In Parliament today, it was...

 Read Full Article
Indoor Air Quality Surveys Needed Before Reopening Buildings

Bureau Veritas is stressing the need to carry out indoor air quality surveys, swab-sampling programs and quantification of fresh air assessments, to ensure premises...

 Read Full Article
Contractual Disputes – How to Deal with COVID-19 Litigation 

As the UK goes in and out of lockdown, the legal system is braced for a sharp increase in contractual disputes. So much so, that the Cabinet Office has expressed concern,...

 Read Full Article
HSE COVID-Secure Spot Checks Continue Throughout UK

As Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire move into tier three of lockdown, the Health and Safety Executive will continue to operate safety inspections to check for...

 Read Full Article
What Does Tier Three Lockdown for Manchester Actually Mean?

As Greater Manchester moves into the highest tier of lockdown restrictions, we look at what this actually means for residents and businesses. Manchester will move to a...

 Read Full Article
PM Tightens Restrictions and Re-Prioritises Working From Home

In an address to MPs today, Boris Johnson has tightened COVID-19 restrictions in England, calling on people to work from home where possible and pausing plans for...

 Read Full Article
Venues Face Fines of up to £4K if Rule of Six is Not Enforced

Leisure and hospitality venues in England are legally required to enforce the rule of six from today, or risk a fine of up to £4,000. Designated venues will also...

 Read Full Article
The Rule of Six – Will it Affect Employee Confidence When Returning to Work?

Boris’ new rule of six doesn’t apply to workplaces, but how might the tightening of lockdown measures affect general confidence when returning to...

 Read Full Article