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New Welsh Government Regulation for Workplace Distancing During COVID-19

7 Apr

On Tuesday 7th April 2020, it became the law in Wales that employees must work two metres apart from each other. The Welsh Government have introduced enforceable guidance to help businesses and other organisations understand what kind of reasonable measures they can take to ensure that persons on their premises stay two metres apart, during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The principle of taking all reasonable steps or measures to maintain two metre physical distance is now being broadened to all workplaces. This is intended to be applied consistently. However, it is not an absolute rule that has to be applied every time in all circumstances. In addition, it is not a measure that will apply in the same way in all circumstances.

Businesses are required to take proportionate action where it is practicable to do so, and to justify those measures. These measures must minimise the risks faced by workers who have to continue to attend work in their workplace.

It will be for a business to justify the reasonable measures that they have adopted and to demonstrate how they have considered that these are proportionate and;

  • Reducing the number of people working on the premises at any one time – increasing the space between people by reducing the total number of people in attendance.
  • Increasing space between staff in work – for example, on a production line leaving 2 metre gaps between people and indicating spacing with markings.
  • Considering appropriate provision of rest space – is there a congregation of workers at a certain time? Could additional space be provided or breaks staggered?
  • Altering tasks undertaken – adjusting the way that work is done, to reduce contact.
  • Staggering shifts to minimise people on site and to reduce congestion at the point of shift changes.

Where contact or closer working is required, it is important that other measures are considered, for example:

  • Minimising the level of interaction.
  • Physical barriers.
  • Improved hygiene and reminders about the importance of hygiene.
  • Washing hands well for 20 seconds with soap after close contact.
  • Ensuring those with symptoms are not present on the premises.

This new approach goes beyond previous guidance and is now a duty in law and so enforcement is possible, where it is necessary. Both the police and local authorities have powers to enforce the restrictions on businesses, services and workplaces imposed by the regulations. The regulations provide for enforcement to be carried out by:

  • Police officers.
  • Police community support officers.
  • Persons designated by local authorities (for example environmental health officers).
  • Persons designated by the Welsh Ministers.

For more information on maintaining physical distancing in the workplace, please visit: https://gov.wales/taking-all-reasonable-measures-maintain-physical-distancing-workplace

Need advice?

If you have any questions, please contact Thomas Carroll Management Services on 02920 853794 or email lauren.hill@thomas-carroll.co.uk.