Updated: Sep 4, 2020
Business for many is now back up and running. You've done your COVID risk assessment, put in measures, and have become COVID-19 secure. Then your worst nightmare happens - someone shows symptoms or is confirmed as having contracted COVID-19. What would you do?
Employees must self isolate at home if:
they or any of their household / support bubble have any of the COVID-19 symptoms
they or any of their household / support bubble have tested positive for coronavirus
they have been told by NHS Test and Trace that they have been in contact with a person who has coronavirus
If an employee develops symptoms at work they must report this immediately. The employer must then:
isolate the individual from the rest of the workplace
provide a mask or face covering for themselves and the individual
provide any assistance they require (if vulnerable or disabled) while ensuring social distancing, using face mask / covering, instructing the individual on what to do to avoid close contact, providing first aid or medical assistance, and maintaining good hygiene measures such as washing hands
not allow the individual to use welfare facilities. If they need a toilet, use one away from everyone else and isolate it afterwards for a thorough clean.
ensure the individual travels home, avoiding public transport. If possible another person from their household must collect them in their own vehicle
maintain good communications with the individual
Close Contacts: When an individual tests positive for COVID-19, NHS test and trace will ask them to alert people they have been in close contact with at any time from two days before they developed symptoms until 10 days from the onset of symptoms. If any contacts are fellow workers, the employer may be asked to help. The employer should:
identify close contacts who have been working together in a team or pair with the infected person without physical distancing (employers should already be maintaining records on this)
inform those identified close contacts, whilst maintaining confidentiality (no names should be mentioned)
instruct close contacts that they do not need to self-isolate unless requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace or a public health official, but they should
avoid contact with vulnerable people or with existing medical conditions
take extra care to social distance and with hand washing / hygiene
watch out for symptoms and self-isolate if they show symptoms
Employers with Confirmed cases in the workplace will be informed of this by either the employee, NHS Test and Trace, or the Public Health Team. They will inform close contacts to self-isolate, whilst maintaining confidentiality. When this happens the employer must:
tell close contacts not to come to work and to stay at home except for a test or urgent medical treatment
keep up communications with them
allow close contacts to work from home is well enough and is is practicable to do so
If there is an outbreak in the workplace, employers should nominate a single point of contact to liaise with public health teams. They should contact the local public health team as soon as possible to reduce the risk of a wider incident. The public health team will require the following information:
contact details of those affected
when they became unwell
when they were last on site
links with other known cases (on or off site)
layout of the building in relation to where the affected workers are employed
details of control measures put in place
any contact with other agencies.
The Public health team may request that the employer:
increases hygiene, hand washing and the use of PPE
increases staff training, awareness and controls
limits access to the premises
temporarily closes the premises.
Thorough cleaning of the premises should be completed and any waste removed as per Government Guidance.
Employers only need to report cases under RIDDOR if:
there has been an accident or incident at work that has or could have led to an escape of coronavirus
a person at work has been diagnosed with COVID-19 after being exposed to the virus at work
a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus (biological agent exposure).
The above information was correct on 3 September 2020 and is relevant for England only.
Sources for the above:
Government website gov.uk/coronavirus
KSH Safety Services provides the above information in good faith. It is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the information in this post. In no event will KSH Safety Services, or its employees or agents be liable to you or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance to the information in this post, or for any consequential, special or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.