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Cymraeg

Social distancing advice for staff

We're working hard to ensure we meet the Welsh Government's new law on social distancing.

The law requires businesses and other bodies to allow two metres between employees. However, it is not an absolute ban on working closer as the Welsh Government realises that it would be impractical in the delivery of some essential services.

In many areas we are already in compliance because of the steps we've taken with staff working at home and social distancing. We will be taking further measures to change how we work to ensure compliance wherever possible.

In the delivery of some other elements of our essential services where distancing is impractical we will take all reasonable measures to ensure the health of officers, associates and the public.

Council staff will be briefed by managers. Those who seek clarification on the new rules can ask their manager and there are also some FAQs below.

More information on social distancing in the workplace is available on the Welsh Government website.

 

FAQs

What's an example of an area where the 2 metre rule can't be applied - and where "reasonable measures" need to be considered?

The Welsh Government acknowledges there are working environments where physical distancing is not possible - and in consequence there may be circumstances where few or no reasonable measures can be taken. For example, in relation to the provision of public facing essential services (including operation and maintenance of Critical National Infrastructure), factory settings, construction sites, the provision of health and social care services and the production and distribution of food.

In these instances the Welsh Government asks employers to take reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of 2m is maintained between people on premises, including outdoor sites, to minimise the risk of transmission and the risk to workers.

 

What sort of considerations may be taken into account when looking at possible "reasonable measures"?

These include cost, the nature of the work, health and safety, and the nature and capacity of those in a workplace. For example, it may not be a proportionate measure to extend a premises or acquire additional fleet vehicles - but it may be applicable to split shifts at low cost.

Likewise, a measure would not be proportionate if it undermined the delivery of a service, if it compromised the health and safety of others or if the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults would be compromised.

 

Give me some examples of "reasonable measures."

According to the Welsh Government, these may include:

  • Reducing the number of people on the premises at any one time and increasing the space between them.
  • Increasing space between staff - for example leaving 2 metre gaps on a production line.
  • Changing rest space or breaks to keep people further apart.
  • 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.

 

What about where "reasonable measures" are not possible in the delivery of vital services?

The regulations do not require all employers to enforce a 2m distance between all workers all of the time ie where it's not possible to take reasonable measures. However, employers are expected to undertake an assessment before concluding there are no "reasonable measures" that they can take.

 

Give me some examples of situation where "reasonable measures" may not be possible.

According to the Welsh Government, situations where it is not possible or appropriate for people to stay 2m apart may include:

  • Provision of personal services, including in the home.
  • Tasks that require two or more people to undertake them safely, including heavy lifting or carrying dangerous chemicals.
  • Education and childcare settings - especially where young children cannot understand the concept of physical distancing.
  • Exceptions where close contact is required between workers and the users of services.
  • Where workers are required to travel together.
  • Where dual working is to ensure safety.
  • Working in confined spaces, for example repairing infrastructure for utilities.

 

Are there still some useful measures that can be taken in such circumstances?

Yes. 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
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