Find out changes to our services and advice in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus: Health and safety advice for businesses

Under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA), employers have a general duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work. This would extend to managing and controlling risks of infection from coronavirus in the workplace.

If an employer is following the relevant Government guidance for their sector in terms of controlling the public health risks, generally they will be taking reasonably practicable precautions to control workplace risks.

Current Scottish Government advice remains that businesses whose work is not essential to tackling Coronavirus should not be reopening. However, for businesses that are currently operating, and to assist those that are yet to resume, the HSE have published coronavirus (COVID-19) related guides on working safely during the outbreak and talking with your employees about working safely. This guidance is for employers and the self-employed who work with or near other people. It may also be useful for workers and their representatives. It explains generic measures that can be taken to help businesses work safely during the pandemic.

There are some industry benchmarks in relation to dealing with Coronavirus in specific businesses. Please contact Perth and Kinross Council health and safety team on FoodHealthSafety@pkc.gov.uk for more information and guidance or visit the coronavirus page on the HSE website.

If you are concerned about lack of control measures in relation to COVID -19 in a workplace you can contact PKC on the above email or submit a form to HSE.

Gas safety

The Gas Safe Register has issued advice and guidance in relation to COVID-19.

Reporting of RIDDOR

You must only make a report under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) when: 

  • an unintended incident at work has led to someone's possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence;
  • a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease; or
  • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus.

Legionella control post COVID-19

Reinstatement of water systems post COVID-19 shutdown

Water system stagnation due to lack of use is foreseeable during the COVID-19 outbreak and the Legionella risks need to be managed to prevent problems upon reinstatement or return to use. Different types of water system may require different precautions to be applied to manage that risk. Where water systems remain in regular use, these will require appropriate measures to be maintained to prevent Legionella growth.

Cooling towers and evaporative condensers (See L8 ACOP and HSG274 Part 1 for guidance).

Where operation of these systems is still necessary, then these must be maintained and operated safely at all times to avoid increased Legionella risks. During the COVID 19 emergency, it is important that employers have reviewed operations and planned for the necessary measures and resources to ensure safe systems of work are continued. This will include the availability of adequately trained personnel to carry out essential checks and monitoring, as well as ensuring chemical supplies are maintained and dosed appropriately.

Operators should liaise with their water treatment companies for assistance and if it is necessary to cease operation of any systems. If cooling towers and evaporative condensers are likely to be out of operation for:

  • up to a month, then fans should be isolated, but biocidally-treated water should be circulated around the system for at least an hour on a weekly basis.
  • more than a month, then systems should be drained down, cleaned and disinfected before being refilled and returned to operation.

Hot and Cold Water Systems (see L8 ACOP and HSG274 Part 2 for guidance).

Legionella risk assessments should be reviewed to reflect buildings being closed or having reduced occupancy levels during the COVID-19 outbreak. Hot and cold water outlets may now be infrequently-used and will require flushing on a weekly basis to prevent water stagnation. If weekly flushing cannot be undertaken, then duty holders should liaise with whoever provides their competent advice to ensure systems are cleaned (if required) and disinfected before building reoccupation.

Spa pools and hot tubs in a commercial setting (see L8 ACOP and HSG282 for guidance).

Where these systems remain in use, then existing control regimes must be maintained.

Where systems are not in use, they will need to be drained, cleaned and disinfected. Prior to reinstatement, they will also need to be cleaned and disinfected