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Health and Safety Coronavirus FAQs

Our experts have got together and compiled a list of common questions being raised at the moment. Here are our latest ones. We’ll continue to update this as we go. If there’s anything you’d like covered please get in touch.

I have sent people home so they can work from home, do I need to ask them to complete DSE assessments?
As the home working is only temporary due to the coronavirus and there is no increased risk from display screen equipment, so employers do not need to do home workstation assessments, however, I would provide them with the DSE guidance attached (Spectra’s guidance document) and if you feel it necessary or have concerns for particular members of staff you may choose to ask staff to complete a self-assessment checklist and address any concerns the employees may have. I would ensure you keep in regular contact with employees to ensure there isn’t any alleviated stress levels due to lone working etc.

Employees are working from home where possible, however some employees are completing site visits where they are going into client’s homes. Is this still ok?
Employees are going into customers’ homes where potentially, with the increasingly high number of people working from home, high risk groups etc your employees may be coming into contact with more and more people as social distancing will be more difficult. My only recommendation for this would be that if there are people in the homes when they arrive or the office staff determine that there will be someone home, to protect your staff that you either advise them that they don’t visit the site full stop or they assess when they get to site and if social distancing isn’t practical then they do not continue with the visit.

Do I need a risk assessment for Covid-19?
Spectra have distributed a risk assessment and have provided them with advice for them to follow and guidance given by Public Health England. Advice has also been provided to review this daily as things evolve.

What duties do I have from a compliance point of view for those working at home?
How you, as an employer, fulfil your duties will depend on the sort of work that is being carried out at home and what equipment and assistance needs to be provided. Most health and safety issues around home working are no different from those of conventional office working and could be classified as ‘low risk’, but the employer is required to be confident in this. In particular Display Screen Equipment (DSE) users should have an adequate workstation with a proper chair, desk and IT equipment and you should consider whether the home workplace’s ventilation, temperature, lighting, space, and floor are suitable for the tasks the home worker will be carrying out. The employer is also responsible for the equipment it supplies, but it is the employee’s responsibility to rectify any flaws in the home highlighted by the assessment.

We have our goods shipped from China; are there any extra precautions we need to be taking? The staff taking deliveries are concerned about exposure to the virus. What can I do?
There is currently no evidence that Coronavirus can be carried in or on packages for the amount of time it takes to ship from China to the UK and that have originated in China. It may be beneficial for you to consider providing gloves which will be thrown away after each use and encourage good hand hygiene. I would also speak to the manufacturer if you are concerned to see if they have any concerns but at your end encourage people to take extra precautions such as washing hands frequently with warm water and soap (I have included the World Health Organisation hand wash technique below).

Is Covid-19 RIDDOR reportable?
A. Individual Covid-19 cases are not RIDDOR reportable so would not fall for investigation and it would be near impossible to prove that an individual contracted Covid-19 from exposure at their place of work or in connection to their work.

What do we do where service companies are cancelling engineer visits due to Covid-19. Where do we stand on checks that have not been completed but the equipment is still in use.
If the engineers cannot attend site because of the current Covid-19 and the safety measures which have been outlined by their company then I would suggest, airing on the side of caution and taking the equipment out of use. I would complete visual inspections and document these inspections and when the statutory servicing and maintenance is due, if this cannot be completed, the item is taken out of use. I would then ensure that when things can be tested, they are as soon as possible and before they are reinstated.

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