Keeping farm staff safe from coronavirus in shared spaces

It is important to observe social distancing measures and hygiene controls in communal areas and shared spaces. Use this information to consider methods to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Back to: Social distancing for farm businesses

People flow and environment

Think about pinch-points and the flow of people through the workplace.

  • One-way systems and staggered shifts are possible ways to minimise contact between staff
  • Consider screens in all areas where two metres is not possible, but this should still allow for verbal communication
  • Postage/document-transfer procedures should be considered, such as using transfer drawers to limit hand contact
  • Use floor and wall markers to indicate distances, including outside areas for social entertaining (eating, sport, recreation)

You can minimise the risks of spreading coronavirus, by undertaking and documenting a formal risk assessment for each specific area or process in the business and implement measures accordingly.

Take a look at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on how to carry out risk assessments.

A screened reception area and transfer drawer

Managing rest areas and canteens

It is very unlikely that coronavirus is transmitted through food. Workplace canteens may remain open, where there are no practical alternatives for staff to obtain food.

It is best practice to risk-assess the use of canteen and rest areas.

The following examples may be used to mitigate risks:

  • Ensure, as far as reasonably possible, a distance of two metres is maintained between users of rest areas and canteens. This may involve removing some tables to enable social distancing
  • Where possible, introduce staggered breaks for cohorts to minimise the amount of people using rest areas and canteens at the same time
  • Ensure that notices promoting hand hygiene and social distancing are placed visibly in rest areas and canteens
  • Where possible, increase the number of hand-washing and sanitiser stations available in rest areas and canteens
  • Where possible, promote the use of contactless technology for any payments and ensure that where canteen staff cannot maintain a two-metre distance from workers (for example at serving hatches or tills) they are physically shielded (for example by screen)
  • Consider introducing a policy for the cleaning down of tables and collection of cutlery that takes account of social distancing
  • Consider removing shared condiments, e.g. salt and pepper holders

Managing shared living arrangements

  • Every effort should be made to secure single-occupancy accommodation for workers. If single-occupancy accommodation is not possible, occupancy in each shared space should be as low as possible and organised in cohorts. Such cohorts should be as small as possible and kept separate from other cohorts
  • Face-to-face contact should be minimised as much as possible by introducing scheduled access, in cohorts if social distancing is not possible, to shared facilities such as showers and kitchens
  • Ventilation in all rooms and buildings should be maximised
  • In addition to normal cleaning regimes, it is best practice to ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using standard cleaning products, active against viruses and bacteria, particularly at the start and end of the day
  • Employers should consider supporting workers with shopping by selling basic supplies on site or facilitating food deliveries. If workers need to travel off site to buy food and essentials, the Government guidance must be followed. It is best practice for employer-organised shopping trips to be managed in cohorts

Managing transport

Follow the government guidance to avoid unnecessary work travel and keep people safe when they do need to travel between locations.

Managing new arrivals from abroad

The rules on self-isolation for seasonal agricultural workers are different from those for other international travellers to the UK. This is because of the importance of the work for food supply.

Coming to the UK for seasonal agricultural work on English farms guidance

Social distancing in a designated staff smoking area

More information and resources

Further information on the above can be found in the latest government guidance.

See also:

Coronavirus FAQs Coronavirus: contingency planning for your business

Disclaimer: This information is based on UK governments and Public Health England (PHE) guidance. Other restrictions and advice may apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This guidance does not change or amend the statutory duties of an employer under the health and safety legislation, including, in particular:

Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA), which requires an employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees

Regulation 3 (1) (a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR), which requires an employer to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of its employees to which they are exposed while they are at work in order to identify the measures the employer must take to comply with the requirements of the health and safety legislation

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