Workers who were previously shielding have now been advised that if they cannot work from home, they may return to work providing their employer has ensured that their workplace is COVID secure. There is a clear priority given here to homeworking, but a recognition that for some workers, this is not feasible.
The people asked to shield were in the main those with a compromised immune system, who would therefore be very vulnerable to an infection such as COVID 19. The same precautions must be applied to anyone who is part of the household of a previously shielding person.
There are other groups who may be more vulnerable to COVID 19, for instance:
• Older men
• Pregnant women
• Members of certain BAME groups
• Those with a very high BMI
You may choose to apply additional precautions for these groups also.
Bear in mind that no worker should be infected at work, or spread infection at work. If this can be reliably achieved, your worries about your vulnerable groups will be much reduced.
Your first choice for your vulnerable people remains homeworking. If this is impractical, see if you can give them an isolated work area, even if this means changing their usual work activity. The other measures you can apply will be familiar from your risk assessment:
• Good ventilation or outdoor work
• Social distancing by 2 metres, with further mitigation if less
• Good hand hygiene
• Make sure anyone symptomatic, or in contact with a case, stays away from work
• Good cleaning routines
• Coughs and sneezes “caught” or completely isolated
• One way systems or avoidance of pinch points to ensure no infringement of the 2 metre rule – floor markings and signs may help
• Use of respiratory protection
Do communicate with your vulnerable people and listen to their views. They may have good ideas on how their safety can be ensured. If all else fails and you are not confident they are safe, they are better off at home even if you lose their work for a further period of time