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Physical distancing guidelines for business

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Fife Council Environmental Health are aware of the need for premises currently permitted to be open such as food businesses, retail shops and other essential workplaces to keep trading to provide vital supplies and services to the public during these difficult times.

The Scottish Government have introduced COVID protection levels (sometimes known as tiers or tier system) that set out measures that can be applied nationally or locally depending on the prevalence of the virus across Scotland.

Each area has a COVID protection level. There are 5 different levels starting from 0 to 4. The lowest level is 0 and the highest level is 4.

The system will help you to understand protections that have been introduced, as well as showing how and when they may be lifted. This system was introduced on 2 November 2020 and these levels will be reviewed on a regular basis.

Fife is entering COVID protection level (tier) 3 as of 6am Friday 13th November 2020. Information on how this will affect your business can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/pages/protection-level-3/

The Scottish Government have committed to review the COVID protection levels for each area on a frequent basis. The current level for Fife can be checked on the Scottish Government website at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/pages/protection-levels-by-area/

The main legislation covering these requirements are The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. Which can be found here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2020/344/contents These may be amended and updated periodically.

As a business you require carefully thought-out plan is needed before you open to the public and should be reviewed regularly as the business grows and leans through experience.

You must also consider what you would do if things go wrong and a customer or staff contracts COVID19. There is no quick fix for this pandemic and these precautions will be ongoing for some time to come or until the population is able to be vaccinated, so careful control measures are needed. You need to think ahead and consider future tiers of the Covid protection levels and how these will affect your business.

What should Employers consider

Employers should make themselves aware of current Government advice regarding the need to maintain a safe physical distance to prevent any unnecessary spread of this virus.

First complete a Risk Assessment (RA) and Safe System of work (SSOW) for your business. Using a risk-based approach consider:

  • What are the current tasks within the business?
  • How do you make them safer to allow compliance?

Please see the below a summary of the relevant guidance and use the web links below for more in-depth guidance and information.

What are the five steps to risk assessment?

  • Step 1: Identify hazards, i.e. anything that may cause harm.
  • Step 2: Decide who may be harmed, and how.
  • Step 3: Assess the risks and take action.
  • Step 4: Make a record of the findings.
  • Step 5: Review the risk assessment.

Weblinks to HSE website for further information on Risk Assessments:

COVID-19 Guidance for Food Business Operators and Their Employees including a COVID Risk Assessment tool, social distancing posters and warning posters, take away posters and information and a summary checklist for businesses with business start-up guide can be found on the Food Standards Scotland webpage:

https://www.foodstandards.gov.scot/publications-and-research/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-business-operators-and-their-employees

A Safe System of Work is a formal procedure which results from systematic examination of a task to identify all the hazards. It defines safe methods to ensure all hazards are eliminated or risks minimised. When you have completed your risk assessment you can look at how your tasks can be completed safely to minimise the risk of contracting COVID 19 within your business. You will need to look at all areas and activities of your business. The list below gives a non-exhaustive list of examples of what to look at:

Staff

  • Identify those who are most vulnerable – do they need to be at work?
  • Can they work from home? Remote working remains the default position for those who can.
  • Can they do tasks that minimise contact with others?
  • Who do you need to complete the work?
  • Can staff maintain 2 metres physical distancing?
  • Can staff have breaks on their own at different times?
  • Can the same people work on same shift to minimise extra household contacts?
  • Do staff need to be in contact with the public?
  • How will you protect staff?
  • Are staff able to wash their hands with hot/cold running water, soap and disposable paper towels?
  • What PPE may be required e.g. face coverings, gloves, sanitiser, disposable aprons etc?
  • How can hand contact surfaces be cleaned throughout the day e.g. door and cupboard handles, dials, switches, sockets, tills, counters etc?
  • What cleaning equipment will be needed e.g. soap, paper towels, surface sanitiser, antibacterial wipes, disinfectant, hand sanitiser etc.?
  • Can a Perspex screen be installed at locations such as till points, reception etc.?
  • Who will be responsible to ensure all procedures are getting completed?
  • What is the procedure if staff or customers do not adhere to the guidelines?

Information

  • How will you ensure staff and customers stay informed?
  • What signage is required?
  • How will you keep staff up to date?
  • What equipment do they need to do their job?
  • Where can this information be found?
  • Physical Distancing
  • Mandatory face coverings
  • How will you maintain physical distancing throughout the business?
  • Can you limit the amount of people in the business at the one time?
  • How can we implement this safely in practice?

Cleaning

Businesses should ensure that they carry out a thorough deep clean and disinfection prior to reopening, this is especially important for those that are food based.

It is strongly recommended that all businesses (even non-food) carry out a deep clean and disinfection.

Other considerations:

Check that you have a supply of hot running water that does not come from the wash hand basin to allow adequate cleaning and disinfection of work equipment, utensils, desks, till points, chairs, stationary, hand contact points etc?

  • How would cleaning be completed, how often and by whom?
  • Do cleaners need extra PPE to keep them safe?

Staff or Customer Toilets

You will need to provide toilets for your staff and ensure they are cleaned frequently. If you provide customer toilets you should limit the number of people that can use these and ensure these toilets are cleaned frequently to reduce potential transmission of COVID.

  • How would you organise safe access to staff or customer toilets and how do you ensure adequate cleaning for these areas?

The Scottish Government have published guidance on opening public and customers toilets: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-public-and-customer-toilets-guidance/

Staff rooms

  • Do you have staff kitchen facilities?
  • How would you allow staff to use these areas safely?
  • How will they be cleaned, by often and by whom?
  • Do you have an outside area, can staff take their breaks outside?

Training Ensure that refresher training for staff is carried out. This should include induction for return to work covering physical distancing and hygiene measures.

For food businesses this should also include food hygiene practices such as; handwashing procedures, cleaning and disinfection procedures, cross contamination procedures (including correct storage of food types), temperature control, pest control, waste control etc. It is also a good time to ensure your stock rotation and allergen policies are refined and re-train staff accordingly. It is recommended that staff read over the house rules prior to restarting work. Please ensure you create a staff training log and get all staff to sign and date this once completed. You should ensure that if you need to take on any new staff that they are appropriately trained and if necessary supervised until they are competent in their duties.

  • Have you thought about training your staff?
  • Who will do this?
  • What will it include?
  • How often will staff need to be trained? How will this be done safely?

Stock

If you are a food business you should ensure that you check all stock in your premises prior to reopening to ensure that the stock is still in date and safe to use, any food that is unsuitable should be disposed of in the appropriate manner. Similarly, if you are required to close your business under the tier system you must ensure all perishable foods are disposed of prior to closing.

Legionella

With many businesses having been closed for many weeks it is important the owners consider the risk of Legionella when reopening their business. Whilst legionella may not normally feature in your business in a day to day manner, all businesses should carry out a risk assessment and decide if they are at risk and take the appropriate action. Legionella is a bacterium that can cause diseases including Legionnaires' disease. Legionella can occur from exposure to legionella bacteria that may grow in systems where water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth, e.g. cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold-water systems,

showers and spa pools used in all sorts of premises (work and domestic). Further information and guidance can be found at the Health and Safety Executive website:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/

https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/legionella-risks-during-coronavirus-outbreak.htm

Waste contacts

If you require to close your business or are re-opening your business, please ensure that you remove any and all waste from your business in the appropriate manner as per The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012. If you wish further advice, please visit: https://www.fife.gov.uk/kb/docs/articles/business2/business-waste-and-recycling/your-waste-responsibilities

Pest Control

If you require to close your business or are opening after a period of closure please ensure you carry out a thorough check to ensure that there is no pest activity, opening or reinstating any pest contracts as necessary.

Maintenance

If you require to close your business or are opening after a period of closure, please ensure that any maintenance contracts are reinstated prior to opening. And that any essential maintenance that is required is also carried out. You should ensure that any equipment that requires calibration is calibrated.

  • Is there any maintenance required? - Make a list.
  • How will you carry out maintenance? Do you need contractors? How long will this take? When can this be completed?
  • Have your gas and electrical systems been recently serviced?
  • For all equipment, have you checked inspection records and due dates?

People/customers congregating

  • How will you discourage congregating?
  • How will this be monitored and by whom?
  • How would you approach customers who breach current guidelines?
  • How will you protect staff?
  • Ensure a distance of 2 metres between customers and staff
  • Only let people enter the shop in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded
  • Queue control is required outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open
  • Have you reviewed security procedures due to current changes? (e.g. counter terrorism advice)

Areas Open to the Public:

  • To limit the number of customers in store at any one time, consider placing signage in/outside the premises to inform customers.
  • Increase security presence where required, such as queue management (internal & external).
  • Remind staff not to put their own safety at risk in the event of abusive customers or shoplifters.
  • Please ensure mandatory face coverings are worn
  • Keep staff up to date with information on actions being taken to reduce the risk of exposure to staff and the public.
  • Provide suitable screening around checkouts where possible.
  • Ensure staff perform necessary hygiene procedures and ensure frequent hand washing.
  • Clearly tell customers they should shop alone when possible and only buy what they need.
  • Enforce essential workers’ and vulnerable people’s shopping hours.
  • Maintaining physical distance. Possible solutions may include to place tape marking out the recommended 2 metres exclusion on the shop floor area, thus ensuring that distance is maintained between staff and customers as far as practicable.
  • Accepting payment with contactless if you can, if not, have customers place money on counter and adhere to distancing guidelines during transactions.
  • Hospitality venues (sit in) should record and store contact details for all customers to support Teat & Protect, so that they can be contacted if another customer subsequently tests positive for Covid. It is also advisable of all business to consider such records for shift patterns, visitors and contractors. See Scottish Government advice

Staff Only Areas/other workplaces:

  • As per Government guidelines employees should work remotely where possible and only attend the workplace essential to do so.
  • Maintaining physical distance. Possible solutions may include to place tape marking out the recommended 2 metres exclusion on the production/work area as far as practicable, limiting the number of people in essential face to face meetings considering size of room, staff rest/welfare areas consider how best to distance and/or access time.
  • Ensure staff perform necessary hygiene procedures and ensure frequent hand washing.
  • Workplaces should review cleaning activities and routines. You should consider increasing frequency especially of hand contact surfaces.
  • Mandatory face coverings should be worn in communal areas

Please refer to the attached sector guidance and the links provided for more information and are correct as at 11/11/2020:

Latest Advice from Health Protection Scotland:

Advice and Links from Fife Council:

If you would like to contact Fife Council Environmental Health – please use the emails below:

If you want to report a Covid related concern regarding a business/workplace, please email: