Energy supply industry

Last updated: 09 Jun 2020

Returning to workplaces during the COVID-19 pandemic

Although timing remains uncertain, many energy sector employers are starting to plan for a relaxation of coronavirus lockdown requirements. This page gives guidance for employers and workers on what measures should be in place before any return to work.

This cannot be an immediate return to business as usual and stringent safety measures must continue.

As ever, this will require careful engineering of tasks and clear briefing of colleagues by SAPs and supervisors. Prospect representatives should be consulted about proposed arrangements, based on the health and safety hierarchy used to minimise risk.

Proposals for work should address the following questions

  • Is the job really necessary – can it be left or postponed or redesigned to achieve the same operational objective?
  • If the job needs to be done, how can it be organised in order to maintain social distancing and electrical safety?
  • Has the job been planned so colleagues leave site once they have completed their part of the task?
  • Has our communication on-site established that everyone understands their role and that everyone is both fit and competent to complete it?
  • If, in exceptional or emergency situations, social distancing cannot be maintained, how will the risk be managed and contact minimised?

Representatives and members should also be mindful to apply the precautionary principle and not rely on incomplete knowledge:

  • Some coronaviruses can last on surfaces for up to nine days.
  • There is currently insufficient knowledge about immunity to COVID-19: there is evidence that other zoonotic infections can come back.
  • The reliability of the various tests for COVID-19 is complex – so check what the tests actually mean.


  • Safe systems of work – including social distancing – are our first line of defence. These systems should be applied at all times, including breaks, to maintain social distancing.
  • Work must continue to be electrically and mechanically safe. Colleagues showing symptoms must not work.
  • PPE should always be worn where needed, but it is the last resort – and definitely not a solution for all circumstances. PPE remains a vital but last line of defence.

This advice can be downloaded as a PDF and printed off to use on site.