The duty to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing applies to staff wherever they are working. The health and safety duties of an employer overlap with those of a site operator (if an employee is undertaking a site visit)and so both must be satisfied that adequate health and safety arrangements in place.
Arrangements to minimise risk from COVID-19 must be in place and must cover site visits. If there is a standard operating procedure for site visits then it should be up to date. If there is not one, one should be implemented now.
Top tips for employers whose staff are making site visits to minimise the risk from COVID-19 during those site visits:
1. Familiarise yourself with the Government’s COVID-19 Secure guidelines, in particular Construction and other outdoor work and Travel, and use this information to implement arrangements to protect your staff from COVID-19 during site visits. Consider introducing a standard operating procedure covering site visits.
2. Produce an information sheet for staff to have on their person during visits which explains safety measures they can take and what they should do if they are concerned about their safety whilst on a visit.
3. Avoid physical site visits where possible.
4. If site visits are business essential then liaise in advance with the site operator to confirm that the site in question is COVID secure. If you have concerns then delay site visits until they are resolved.
5. Ensure staff conducting visits have a direct line of communication with you and that they feel confident and able to raise concerns about safety.
6. Document not only your arrangements but also your communications with staff and with site operators. If something does happen and a claim or criminal charges are brought against you this will be important evidence in demonstrating that you have discharged your legal duties.
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