Health and safety advice – Let’s stay protected

As attention moves to reopening the economy following the crisis, we are still expecting the highest levels of protection for working people.

During this crisis we have been in regular contact with key employees of the HSE and received support from both the TUC and Hazards. Many of those that work in the Food Industry have continued to attend work throughout, working together with employers and our safety representatives to put in place measures to protect people. Some of these measures, which have been constantly under review, have included:

  • more frequent safety meetings
  • staggered start times
  • relocation of hand washing facilities to outside entry points
  • installation of internal washing stations
  • temperature checks on workers
  • ensuring the provision of PPE risk assessments to build in social distancing measures

Moving forward, we expect that:

  • employers put measures in place to notify anyone who may be at risk having come into contact with someone who has notified them that they have the symptoms
  • full sick pay is provided in these circumstances
  • if anyone does become infected work areas/place should close for deep cleaning

We have provided a bullet point “Workplace Assessment” checklist below to assist in your workplace assessment.

Don’t forget that a trade union is its member. It is critical that members are informed and consulted about improving control of the risk in the workplace and that they have the opportunity to raise concerns and receive feedback and all information that will impact on them. If you have any concerns with your working practices or returning to work, ask your employer for a copy of the Risk Assessment that should have been carried out, also asking them to provide any new working procedure. If your employer is not following the guidelines issued by the Government then you should alert your BFAWU representative or, if you are unable to contact them, then contact your regional official whose details are listed on the Contacts Page of this website.

Health and Safety meetings and Risk Assessments

As part of the ongoing process the Health and Safety Meeting should be updated and provided with Risk Assessments that have been conducted. These Assessments should be reviewed and improved to ensure all the risks are controlled. Meetings can be conducted daily or weekly, alongside a full Health and Safety meeting, in line with the Brown Book Safety Representatives and Committees 1977. Further details can be found at:



  • Stop all non-essential visitors
  • Temperature checks at the beginning of shift
  • Monitor congestion to enable social distancing of 2 metres:
  • Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact
  • Remove or disable entry systems that require skin contact 
  • Promote good hygiene, wash or clean hands before entering or leaving premises
  • Provide the necessary facilities to do this, warm water soap or hand sanitiser
  • Regularly clean common contact surfaces in reception, office, delivery areas
  • Drivers should remain in their vehicles if the load will allow it and must wash or clean their hands before unloading goods and materials.


  • Avoid public transport only use if there is no choice
  • Car sharing would only be recommended if living in the same household
  • Travel alone in own transport if this is available to you
  • Use a bicycle if this is feasible or walk if in walking distance
  • Every effort made to provide additional parking spaces for cars and bicycles


  • Enhanced and regular cleaning across all areas of the workplace utilising approved cleaning products includes all building touch points
  • Taps and washing facilities
  • Toilet flush and seats
  • Door handles and pushes plates
  • Hand rails on staircases and corridors
  • Lift and hoist controls
  • Machinery and equipment controls
  • Food preparation and eating surfaces
  • Telephone equipment
  • Key boards, photocopiers and other office equipment
  • Rubbish collection and storage points should be increased and emptied regularly throughout and at the end of each day.


  • Dedicated eating areas should be identified
  • Break times should be staggered to reduce congestion, 2 metre rule
  • Create space and manage sitting 2 metres apart from each other whilst eating
  • Hand cleaning facilities or hand sanitiser should be available at the entrance of any room where people eat and should be used by workers when entering and leaving
  • Keep equipment clean between use, kettles, microwaves etc. 
  • Ask workforce to bring pre-prepared meals and refillable drinking bottles from home
  • Where catering is provided, it should be pre-prepared and wrapped food only
  • Crockery, eating utensils, cups (unless from dispenser) etc. should not be used
  • Payments should be taken by contactless card wherever possible
  • Drinking water should be provided with enhanced cleaning measures of the tap mechanism introduced or alternatives supplied free of charge.
  • Tables should be cleaned between each use
  • All rubbish should be put straight in the bin and not left for someone else to clear up
  • All areas used for eating must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each break and shift, including chairs, door handles, vending machines and payment devices


  • Restrict the number of people using toilet facilities at any one time
  • Promote washing hands before and after using the facilities
  • Enhance the cleaning regimes for toilet facilities particularly door handles, locks and the toilet flush
  • Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and Disposal


  • Ensure soap and fresh water is readily available and kept topped up at all times
  • Provide hand sanitiser where hand washing facilities are unavailable
  • Regularly clean the hand washing facilities and check soap and sanitiser levels.
  • Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.
  • Organisations will need extra supplies of soap, hand sanitiser and paper towels and these should be securely stored.


  • Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion, 2 metre rule
  • Enhanced cleaning of all facilities throughout the day and at the end of each day
  • Based on the size of each facility, determine how many people can use it at any one time to maintain a distance of 2 metres
  • Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins in these areas with regular removal and disposal.


  • Ensure ventilation is fit for purpose in the workplace, allow adequate ventilation
  • Regularly clean the inside of vehicle cabs and between uses by different operators.
  • LGV drivers have route planning taking into account available toilet and washing facilities, this will be a unique problem to this situation as public eating places are
  • now closed. HSE Guide here: Driver welfare and hours 
  • Visitors to sites should be curtailed unless essential and business critical such as delivery drivers, outside maintenance or repairs.
  • Any meeting are performed via video link/ skype/ conference call
  • All non – essential staff to work remotely
  • All inductions if needed undertaken with social distancing close contact protocols rigorously observed
  • Observe social distancing and close contact between work colleagues
  • Workplaces that are operational need to have daily communication lines
  • Re-usable PPE to be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared between workers
  • Single use PPE should be disposed of so that it cannot be reused
  • See section on PPE below for details


  • Procedures need to be in place if a worker or visitor has been identified as possibly infected. An isolation room needs to be made available

A reminder

If you or your work colleagues contract the virus follow the Government guidelines on isolation. Ensure your employer reports it using RIDDOR:

Further information can be found at: