Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer commuting guidance for workplaces

(Last Updated 22/05/2020)

The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. There are 8 guides covering a range of different types of work. This document focusses specifically on guidance relating to travel to and from work. To see the full Government guidance please visit : https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Please note these guidelines are based on the Government recommendations for England. Different countries of the UK currently have differing guidance and you should follow the specific advice of your country.

Click here to see our ‘safer travel guidance for commuters’

This document is to help employers, employees and the self-employed in the UK understand how to travel to and from work safely during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, keeping as many people as possible 2 metres apart from those they do not live with. We hope it gives you freedom within a practical framework to think about what you need to do to continue, or restart, operations during this period.

We understand how important it is that you can support your employees’ health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that many businesses are currently closed for their usual service. We hope this document will help those who are already working because they cannot work from home, as well as help other people think about how to prepare for when they return to work. The government is clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace.

1. Risk Assessment

All employers need to carry out a COVID-19 Risk Assessment. (e.g. see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-transport-guidance-for-operators/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-transport-guidance-for-operators)

As part of your risk assessment for travel to and from work you need to:

 

Assess the risks for employee

    • You need to think about the risks your employees face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.
    •  Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. There are interactive tools available to support you from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

    2. Reduce Risks

    Seek to reduce risks to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures.

    Everyone should work from home unless they cannot work for home.

     

    Those organisations where some or all of their workers need to travel to work should consider:

     

      Making a COVID-19 workforce travel plan

      • Analyse all the safer travel modes available to each worker
      • Determine if there are any workers that cannot meet the social distancing guidelines by walking, running, cycling or driving to work.
      • Government guidance is to avoid all travel by public transport if possible. Employers could help their workers to consider all other forms of transport before commuting using public transport. Employees should be very strongly encouraged to use other forms of transport where possible.
        • Services like myPTP enable employers to send personal travel plans of all their options in order of maximum social distancing to help workers make an informed decision.
      • Employers should consider setting up a car share scheme to help their workers get a lift with a colleague to avoid public transport.
        • Setting up a Liftshare Scheme for staff will help staff match with colleagues and set up a team to they can share the journey with the same people every day.
        • Liftshare’s App and monitoring pages enables employers to keep track of who is sharing each day
      • If workers have no alternative to public transport, it is vital they understand the steps they can take to maintain their own safety and that of others and help reduce demand on the transport networks.
      • Staggering arrival and departure times at work where possible to reduce crowding on routes to and from the workplace.
      • Reducing queues, for example by having more entry points to the workplace.
      • Limiting passengers in business vehicles (for example, work minibuses), leaving seats empty.
      • Assigning fixed groups of workers to the same transportation routes where sole travel is not possible.
      • Providing additional safe facilities for runners/walkers/cyclists.

      3. Communications and Training

       

      Organisations should share the government’s most recent guidance to all workers and organise training sessions on how to work or interact safely with colleagues. Businesses should carefully consider the best ways to share advice on how to travel safely and social distancing guidelines to workers.

       

      For workers, organisations could consider:

      • Let workers know in advance if they are required to travel or not, ensuring where possible workers continue to work at home.
      • Providing workers with the information, tools and support they need to travel as safely as possible.
        • This can be done by e.g. sending every member of staff a personal travel plan via myPTP.
        • Workers could be given guidance on face covering.
        • Workers could be given guidance on keeping vehicles clean.
      • Clear and regular communication to improve understanding and consistency of how ways of working are applied.
      • Communication and training materials on new procedures. Some of these may need to be delivered online to maintain social distancing between workers.
      • Using posters and announcements to remind workers to wash their hands often and follow general hygiene advice.
      • Awareness and focus on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty.
      • The use of visual and digital communications (for example whiteboards, signs, websites, intranets, emails) to explain changes to schedules, breakdowns, materials shortages without the need for face-to-face communications.

      Lift sharing guidance for commuters:

      (Travelling by car with people outside your household group)

      Try to share the vehicle with the same person each time.

      Optimise distance between people in the vehicle, for example by the passenger sitting in back left-hand seat of a car.

      Consider wearing a face covering. It is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

      Clean door handles and other areas that people may touch between journeys using gloves and standard cleaning products.

      Avoid physical contact and have good ventilation (keep the car windows open).

      Use your organisation’s online Liftshare scheme (if you have one) to help you find a colleague to share with and to help keep track of who is sharing each day.