Unions warn it could take TWO weeks to do health and safety checks before Brits can go back to work – The Sun

UNION bosses have warned it will take at least two weeks for businesses to be able to put in crucial health and safety checks and for Brits to head back to work.

New Government guidance on how to make workplaces "covid-secure" includes staggering start times, putting in screens and preventing staff working in close proximity.

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Director of national health, safety and environment at the GMB union Dan Shears has claimed the rules, released by The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (Beis), will take a fortnight to implement, according to The Independent.

Staff have been told not to work if they feel "unsafe".

Mr Shears said: "There's no legislation around this, but employers have to assess the risk of workers being exposed to Covid-19, and implement ways of reducing that risk to the lowest level that they can achieve.

"In practice, that will require screens, barriers, floor marking, signage, hand sanitiser, face masks and potentially a whole range of other interventions.

"All of this will take time to procure and set up, so I would suggest at least a week and more likely two weeks, unless the employer had this equipment already in the workplace."

The Prime Minister said last night employers must make sure staff are able to work in conditions that do not risk transmitting coronavirus.

The strict guidance tells workers to turn their backs on their colleagues, bring their own packed lunches in and to use toilets one at a time.

Some companies are even looking at hard hat tags for construction workers that vibrate when people come within two metres of each other.

Decisions over whether a workplace is deemed safe will fall to union-appointed health and safety inspectors.

The guidance told employers: "You must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn't one, a representative chosen by workers.

"As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be."

"If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and we expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so."

Advice for workplaces

Start times

Employers should stagger start times to avoid rush-hour on public transport

Employees have been told they should avoid public transport and walk, cycle or drive where possible.

Offices

Workers should be socially distanced at all times and toilets should be used one at a time

Hot desking will come to an end to avoid sharing spaces

Workplaces should open more entrances and exits and consider a one-way system to reduce crowded areas

Where desks can't be two metres away, screens should be side-by-side or facing away from each other

Meetings should stay virtual where possible

Offices should have regular deep cleaning

Break times

Breaks should be staggered to allow people to space out

Canteens should stay shut and employees should bring their own food

Firms should consider providing packaged meals

Restaurants (take away and delivery)

Staff should change uniforms at work and wash them there rather than take them home

Workstations should be two metres apart if possible

Minimal access should be allowed to 'walk-in pantries, fridges and freezers, for example, with only one person being able to access these areas at one point in time'.

There should also be 'minimal contact at ''handover'' points with other staff, such as when presenting food to serving staff and delivery drivers'.

Shops

Shops should limit the number of people allow inside at any one time

Shoppers should be encouraged to shop alone

Factories and warehouses

The guidance warns they should "review layouts, line set-ups or processes to allow people to work further apart from each other"

Construction and other outdoor work

Reducing job and equipment rotation, so workers have a "single task" for the day

Reduce unnecessary movement within building sites

Boris Johnson admitted ending lockdown would be "supremely difficult" but that those who cannot work from home should head back to work to restart the economy.

Ministers said they consulted with 250 businesses, trade bodies and unions to agree the new guidance.

Mr Johnson said last night: "The key thing is those places of employment should be safe and guidance will be published about how to make places of work covid-secure how to make transport covid-secure." 

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: "This guidance provides a framework to get the UK back to work in a way that is safe for everyone.

"These are practical steps to enable employers to identify risks that COVID-19 creates and to take pragmatic measures to mitigate them."

Workplaces have also been told to stagger start times to ensure there is not a mad rush-hour on public transport.

The PM said those who are heading back to avoid work should avoid public transport where possible.

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