How can the risk be removed?

The most effective way to ensure there is no transmission is to remove the risk, if possible. This needs to be balanced against the necessity to carry out work. In the context of COVID-19, this means ensuring that anyone who has the virus does not come into contact with others.

Employees who are displaying one or more symptoms of the virus are required to isolate at home. This will, to a certain extent, ensure that people who are carrying the virus cannot pass it on to others outside their household.

However, this measure is unlikely to be effective on its own as it is likely that people can transmit the virus in the days before they develop symptoms. Therefore, other measures to control the risk will need to be introduced too, both those in this section and throughout our return to work guidance.

Other ways to ensure workers are not exposed to risk include:

  • ensuring that people who can work from home continue to do so, unless there is an essential reason for them to enter the workplace
  • delaying tasks until after the pandemic has passed. This will not always be possible, and while some things can be delayed in the short term, the longer they are delayed the more necessary it will become to carry them out. The extent to which the risk can be controlled in other ways will be important in determining whether this is appropriate
  • restricting the number of people who are able to access the workplace at any one time
  • restricting visitors to site
  • providing workers with regular virus tests and ensuring those who test positive isolate at home
  • ensuring people who fall into either of the two high-risk groups can continue to work from home. If they cannot carry out their normal duties at home, the employer may be able to assign them different responsibilities. Find out more about those at particular risk. If alternative duties are not available for people are particularly at risk, reps should seek to negotiate arrangements where they are able to stay at home on full pay.

This page is designed to give general information about health and safety on returning to work. It does not cover all circumstances and should not be treated as a definitive answer. Members should contact Prospect either through the Member Contact Centre on 0300 600 1878 or contact their union rep or full-time officer for specific advice.