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Managing covid risk

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This page explains how voluntary organisations can work in a way that reduces the risk of people transmitting Covid. It includes links to relevant Government guidance, practical ideas of how to undertake a risk assessment and change the way you work. This page is for anyone who works in voluntary organisations, including trustees, leaders, staff and volunteers.

National lockdown restrictions 

  • Under the current national lockdown, you must stay home.
  • You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. Reasonable excuses include:
    • Work – Going to work where it is not possible to do your job from home.
    • Volunteering – Providing voluntary or charitable services which cannot be done from home. Learn more on our Knowhow page on involving volunteers.
    • Essentials – Shopping for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.
    • Exercise – Exercising once per day alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. Learn more from the government guidance on exercising.
    • Education and childcare – Attending education or childcare where the child is eligible to attend. See government guidance on education and childcare for further information. If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can also form a childcare bubble.
    • Support bubbles – Meeting your support bubble where necessary and only if you are legally permitted to form one.
    • Compassionate visits – Visiting someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.
    • Medical assistance – Attending medical appointments, getting a covid-19 test or seeking medical help for emergencies.
    • Harm – Avoiding injury, illness or risk of harm (such as domestic abuse).
  • There are still circumstances where you can meet larger groups outside your household, these include:
  • There is additional guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection.
  • If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should follow resumed shielding guidance and should not attend work, school, college or university.
  • These national restrictions are set out in law with penalties for non-compliance. Police will have powers to take action, issue fines and break up gatherings.
  • Read about national restrictions on GOV.UK.

Essential guidance for everyone 

  • The government asks everyone to consider:
    • Hands - wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds. 
    • Face - wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. 
    • Space - stay two metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or at least one metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing a face covering or increasing ventilation indoors).

Planning to lead activities and running venues safely 

    • Under national lockdown, the provision of charitable or voluntary services will remain exempt from the lockdown requirements where these services cannot reasonably be delivered from home.    
    • Voluntary organisations which continue to provide services or which are planning to deliver services should make sure that they take steps to minimise risks of covid transmission.

      Follow appropriate government guidance 

      • The government has published a suite of guidance on working safely during coronavirus. Each guide explains ways to reduce risk of covid transmission in a different type of space or activity.
      • If your organisation runs a range of different activities or in different spaces you may need to consider multiple guidance documents. 
      • You can access all guides on the working safely during coronavirus website
      • Common guides which may be used by voluntary organisations include:

      Risk assessment

      • Before restarting work, organisations must ensure the safety of their workplace by carrying out a risk assessment 
      • This risk assessment should be in line with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance. This includes guidance on what to consider in your covid-19 risk assessment
      • There are legal obligations if you have five employees. If you have fewer than five employees you don’t have to write anything down, but it might help if you do.
      • 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. 
      • Once you have completed your risk assessment you should share the results with your workforce and consider publishing the results on your website. 
      • To help you manage and assess risks, watch our webinar on ‘assessing health and safety risks in uncertain times’ (broadcast on 20 May 2020).  
      • Use our risk register template to help you identify and manage key risks.
      • Zurich, an NCVO trusted supplier, has produced a risk insight to help you consider how to manage risks associated with covid-19.

      Working safely 

      Where your team can not work from home, your organisation must take steps to comply with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of covid-19. 

      The five key steps are to: 

      1. Carry out a covid-19 risk assessment 
      2. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures. 
      3. Help people to work from home where possible. 
      4. Maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible. 
      5. Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk. 

      Reducing risks with your team

      • Under the national lockdown, staff and volunteers should work from home where possible. Read our guidance on supporting staff to work from home. 
      • Where you have your team working or volunteering, you should consider ways to reduce significant mixing of different people. For example, you could consider alternating who is on your premises in fixed teams even with social distancing measures in place. 
      • You could change working hours to reduce the amount of time people are on premises & to aid the staggering of arrival or departure times.

      Cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures

      • Cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures are key to reducing the risk of coronavirus in the workplace. HSE have produced guidance on cleaning, hygiene and hand sanitiser
      • You should increase the level and frequency of cleaning to ensure that all surfaces and equipment are clean.  Pay close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. 
      • Consider providing handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points. 
      • Workplaces should use signs and posters to help employees and volunteers practice good hand washing techniques. GOV.UK has published clear and printable instructions on handwashing techniques (PDF, 130KB) which can be displayed around the workplace.    
      • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin. You can download a ’Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ poster (PDF, 940KB) for your workplace from the NHS.
      • The National Eczema Society has offered advice on handwashing techniques for people with eczema and other skin conditions.

      Manage risks in your space

      • There is no fixed rule on the number of people in a space. However, you should aim to ensure a 2m distance between people in your space and through your activities. This may include:
        • limiting the number of people allowed in a space/a room
        • ensuring one-way traffic through the space
        • putting up signs or using floor tape to remind employees about the social distancing measures
        • using back-to-back or side-to-side working whenever possible
        • increasing the ventilation of space
        • avoiding personal deliveries to the workplace 
        • using screens or barriers where 2m can not be maintained
        • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
      • The government guidance on working safely during coronavirus has further ideas for ways to manage your space.

      Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

      • The use of PPE is not required outside of clinical settings except for a small handful of roles such as first responders. 
      • If your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to staff and volunteers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly. HSE has developed guidance on using PPE at work.  

      Face coverings

      • In England, face coverings must be worn in most indoor public settings.
      • People aged over 11 are required by law to wear a face covering on public transport and in some indoor settings. This includes in community centres, youth centres and social clubs. Read the government guidance on face coverings.
      • The government has advised that you should also wear a face covering in indoor spaces where social distancing will be difficult, and you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
      • Face coverings must be worn by retail, leisure and hospitality staff working in areas that are open to the public and where they’re likely to come into contact with a member of the public.
      • Failure to follow any of these rules will result in a fixed penalty fine.  
      • Face covering needs to cover your mouth and nose. The government has developed guidance on how to wear a face covering
      • Some people are exempt from the legal obligation to wear a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability or if doing so would cause distress. The reasons for this may not be visible and people should be encouraged rather than enforced to wear masks.

      Informing people about staying safe

      • The government has issued a notice for you to display in your workplace to confirm that you have complied with guidance on managing the risk of covid-19.
      • If it is a legal obligation on people to wear a face covering, you should have signage on all entry points. 

      Supporting NHS Test and Trace

      • NHS Test and Trace helps reduce the spread of covid-19 by finding people who have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.  
      • Hospitality, tourism and leisure venues, close contact services and local authority facilities (including community centres, libraries and village halls) must keep records of their staff, customers and visitors for NHS Test and Trace. A full list of organisations who must do this can be found in the government’s guidance.
      • These venues must ask at least one member of every group of customers or visitors (up to six people) for their contact details, including:  
        • name  
        • phone number, or if this is not available an email or postal address  
        • date of visit  
        • arrival time and, if possible, departure time 
        • the name of their assigned staff member, if they have one.   
      • In England, people can also give these details by checking in using an official NHS QR poster. However, you must have a way for people without a smartphone to give their contact details too. 
      • Each person is responsible for making sure their contact details are correct. 
      • If someone doesn’t want to give their details or gives incorrect information, you don’t need to refuse them entry unless you are a hospitality venue. However, you should encourage them to give their details and advise them their information will only be used to stop the spread of covid-19. 
      • Read the government’s guidance on which visits are exempt from these rules.  
      • Keep a record of all staff working on their premises each day, their shift times and their contact details. 
      • Keep these records of customers, visitors and staff for 21 days, share them with NHS Test and Trace if asked, and securely dispose of or delete them after 21 days. 
      • Display an official NHS QR code poster from 24 September 2020, so that customers and visitors can ‘check in’ using this instead of giving their contact details if they choose to. Find out more about NHS QR codes and how to make them on the NHS covid-19 app website.   
      • Follow General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) 
      • These rules apply to any business or organisation that provides an on-site service and to any events that take place on its premises. 
      • Failure to follow any of these rules will result in a fixed penalty fine.  
      Page last edited Jan 12, 2021

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