Living and Working Safely with COVID-19

Public health principles for reducing the spread of respiratory infections

The following information is for employers, workforce managers (of both paid staff and volunteers) and people who are managing a workplace or organisation. This information will help you to understand how to reduce the spread of respiratory infections such as COVID-19 and flu in the workplace. This is especially important if there are people in the workplace whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

While there is no longer a requirement for all employers to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their statutory health and safety risk assessments, it is important that as a business, organisation or an employer you continue to comply with your legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment and equality duties.

 

As we learn to live and work safely with COVID-19, there are actions we can all take to help reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 and passing it on to others.

In April 2022, the Government published guidance for workplaces highlighting principles which can help to reduce the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19. This guidance replaces the Working Safely During Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance which had been in place throughout much of the pandemic. Topics covered in the guidance include advice regarding vaccination, ventilation, cleaning, risk assessment, an expanded list of COVID-19 symptoms, etc. Please see the following website link Reducing the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, in the workplace to access this guidance.

The risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 is greatest when someone who is infected is physically close to, or sharing an enclosed and/or poorly ventilated space with, other people. When someone with a respiratory viral infection such as COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release small particles that contain the virus which causes the infection. These particles can be breathed in or can come into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth. The particles can also land on surfaces and be passed from person to person via touch. Having suitable ventilation and regular workplace cleaning in place can help to reduce the risk of the workforce contracting a respiratory viral infection.

Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, enclosed workplaces are required to have effective and suitable provisions for ventilation. To help duty holders, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published ventilation guidance called Improving general ventilation in the workplace  which gives useful advice for workplaces. The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) have also issued COVID-19 ventilation guidance for business owners, employers, building owners, managers, operators and those maintaining buildings.

There are simple things we can do in our daily/work life that will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections and protect those at highest risk. Please see the guidance for Living safely with respiratory infections, including coronavirus (COVID-19). Health experts in UK universities have created a website called Germ Defence which provides advice to help people to protect their home from COVID-19. People who read advice in Germ Defence are less likely to catch viruses and if they do become ill, the illness is likely to be less severe.

The NHS also has useful information regarding COVID-19 symptoms in adults, children and what to do if you get symptoms again.

The impact and experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has been different for everyone, as has how we have reacted, but there's no doubt it's been a really difficult time for us all. That's why it's so important to do what we can to look after our mental health and wellbeing, now more than ever. The NHS campaign, Better Health: Every Mind Matters, contains help and advice to support mental health and wellbeing. It also includes a short Your Mind Plan quiz to identify actions which could help you or your staff members.

For future Government updates and announcements, please see Coronavirus (COVID‑19). 

Testing 

Free testing for COVID-19 from the NHS has ended for most people in England. For information regarding COVID-19 testing please see the NHS guidance on changes to testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) in England.

Vaccinations 

Vaccinations are very effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19. However, even if you are vaccinated there is a chance you might catch COVID-19 or another respiratory infection and pass it on to other people. Guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19, or a positive test result for COVID-19, can be found in the Government’s people with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19 guidance.

People who are immunosuppressed (weakened immune system), or have other specific medical conditions, may have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases, including COVID-19. The Government has published COVID-19: guidance for people whose immune system means they are at higher risk, which you may find of interest if you have staff who are immunosuppressed.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS are running walk-in clinics in multiple locations, for more information visit #TheVaccinators website. You only need to bring a face covering along.

Patients aged 18+ can get their second dose 8 weeks after their first dose. Most 12-17 year olds must wait 12 weeks. If you or your child is at an at-risk group and is therefore eligible to have the second dose 8 weeks after the first dose, please bring the letter you received from the NHS as proof of eligibility.

Most of our vaccination walk-in clinics now offer booster vaccinations. Where a site does not offer boosters, this is clearly indicated. Please note our sites are not currently offering spring booster doses on a walk-in basis. If you are eligible for a spring booster dose, please wait to be invited by the NHS to book your appointment.

Workplace Mobile Vaccinations

We continue to work with local health partners in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to support vaccination activities. One local initiative is the use of a vaccine bus that can visit workplaces. One local initiative is the use of a vaccine bus that can visit workplaces. To support this initiative, we are looking for businesses to host the local vaccine bus.

We only have a few months to use this amazing service provided to workplaces for free.

The bus is the size of a St Johns ambulance, which needs just a couple of parking spaces near an electric hook up or they can get a vaccinator to your workplace in an office or meeting room. 

If this is of interest to you please do get in touch with the Environmental Health team at 

commercial.envhealth@scambs.gov.uk

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