Employers must ensure workplaces are well ventilated to minimise COVID-19 spread

Employers must ensure workplaces are well ventilated to minimise COVID-19 spread

Employers must ensure workplaces are well ventilated to minimise COVID-19 spread

Employers must ensure workplaces are well ventilated to minimise COVID-19 spread

Businesses are being reminded that they have a legal duty to ensure that their premises have an adequate supply of fresh air in enclosed areas as part of a broad strategy to minimise the risk of the coronavirus from spreading via workplaces. 

With most COVID-19 restrictions lifted, Great Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated its guidance on ventilation and air conditioning as part of a package of preventative measures to help safely manage the increasing number of people returning to the workplace and to reduce infection risk. 

The guidance explains how natural and mechanical ventilation can reduce coronavirus in the air while also reiterating the importance of workers keeping clean and washing their hands frequently. The updated advice also reemphasises the importance of risk assessments to identify other control measures such as social distancing and the wearing of masks. 

People can improve natural ventilation in the workplace by doing simple things like opening windows and doors.

The use of COmonitors in the workplace can also help. Although COlevels are not a direct measure of possible exposure to COVID-19, checking levels using a monitor can help you identify poorly ventilated areas.

The HSE has announced that it will continue to carry out spot checks and inspections to support businesses and ensure they understand its working safely guidance.

Employers should prioritise preventative measures and adds that good ventilation will play a critical role in controlling the risk of coronavirus as businesses increasingly encourage home-based staff to return after a prolonged period working remotely. 

Risk assessments must be in place to identify COVID-19 as a hazard and the associated risks. They will also identify who is at most risk and the measures to take. Companies should revisit their COVID risk assessment frequently to ensure that any additional controls necessary are identified to make the workplace secure from the virus.   

Employee engagement is critical to managing risks successfully. To maximise buy-in and thereby improve the effectiveness of risk assessments, the HSE has produced a separate guide to help employers consult with staff on how to work safely.

IOSH has published its own return to work guidance, which notes that while masks and social distancing have been the more visible signs of controls, good ventilation is a largely unseen, albeit highly effective, measure to control the risk of infection.

Contact us if you have further queries.

Fire Prevention and Control Toolbox Talk


Fire Prevention and Control Toolbox Talk

Why have this talk? Fire Prevention and Control Toolbox Talk. Fire kills and injures many people every year. All employees should be aware of their responsibilities to prevent fires and everyone must know what to do in the event of a fire.

What will this talk cover? Fire prevention, actions to take on discovering a fire and what to do if a fire takes hold.

Preventing fires

  • Switch off all electrical equipment at the mains when not in use.
  • Use appropriate sealed containers for any flammable liquids, not open tins or buckets.
  • Follow the permit-to-work procedures for hot work.
  • Ensure you are a safe distance from any possible source of ignition when handling flammable liquids.
  • Use non-combustible stands for gas rings, bitumen boilers, soldering irons, etc.
  • Use heating equipment to hang clothing i.e. electric heaters.
  • Allow waste material to build up in your working area, especially combustible material such as paper, wood and textiles.
  • Smoke in prohibited areas.
  • Overload electrical sockets. Extension leads must be fully extended to avoid overheating.

Actions to take if you discover a fire

  • Raise the alarm and ensure that the fire brigade is called.
  • Close the doors and windows if possible, to prevent the fire from spreading.
  • Evacuate the building or area.

If the fire alarm sounds

  • Confirm how employees will be alerted to a fire.
  • Make sure everyone is aware of the escape route(s).
  • Confirm how employees should evacuate the workplace, eg via the stairs, where to find the designated evacuation point, more commonly known as a “muster point”.

Employees must NOT:

  • Block, lock or obstruct any fire doors or escape routes.
  • Obstruct access to fire extinguishers.
  • Obstruct clearly marked signage for fire exits and escape routes.

REMEMBER: Be aware of the surroundings in your workplace and familiarise yourself with the escape routes and emergency procedures. You won’t have time if a fire breaks out.

Questions for employees

  • Where is the nearest fire call point to sound the alarm?
  • What should you do if you discover a fire?
  • What can we do to prevent fires in the workplace?
  • What two things should you check when using an extension lead?
  • What should we be aware of in terms of fire exits and fire signage?
  • Who are our fire wardens?
  • Where is the muster point?

Contact us if you require further information.

Asbestos Toolbox Talk

Asbestos Toolbox Talk

Asbestos Toolbox Talk

Why have this talk? Asbestos Toolbox Talk. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and because of its excellent fire retarding and insulating properties it was widely used in the building industry in the 1980s.

Research has shown that breathing in asbestos fibres may cause lung disease and cancer and it is currently the greatest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK with several thousand people dying each year. The delay between asbestos exposure and disease can range between 10 and 50 years.

What will this talk cover? Where you might find asbestos and how to work around it.

Where might you find asbestos in a building?

  • Sprayed insulation coating on steelwork and concrete
  • Floor tiles and flooring materials
  • Asbestos cement as structural sheets, pipes and tanks
  • Ventilation systems
  • Old fire blankets
  • Lagging on boilers and pipework
  • Insulation boards on interior walls, doors or ceilings
  • Some ceiling tiles.
Notes for delivery
The use of asbestos is now banned but any building that was built before 2000 could have asbestos in it.

As long as the material is not disturbed, workers should not be alarmed. If existing asbestos materials are in good condition, they can be left where they are as long as their condition is regularly checked to ensure they do not become damaged.

Products where the asbestos is bound tightly (eg asbestos cement sheets or flooring tiles) are less hazardous than products such as pipe lagging which easily give off fibres, but all products need careful handling by trained workers.

Working with asbestos

  • Asbestos dust is fine and invisible to the naked eye.
  • Most work with asbestos must be undertaken by a licensed contractor.
  • Asbestos waste is hazardous and must be disposed of correctly by an authorised waste carrier.
  • Stringent precautions are required for any work with asbestos to avoid risks and contamination.
The only way to reliably check if asbestos is present is to have a sample of the material examined in a laboratory. All potential asbestos-containing materials must be treated with caution.

Questions for employees

  • How can you tell if a material contains asbestos?
  • What steps should you take if you think you have come across asbestos?
  • Where will you find details of known asbestos in the building that you work in?
  • Can you give some of examples of where in a building you might find asbestos?

Do you have any questions for me?

Contact us for further information.


Accident Investigation Toolbox Talk

Why have this talk? Understanding the root causes of accidents allows the organisation to make changes to control measures to prevent reoccurrence in the future.

What will this talk cover? Why accident investigation is important and how to support an investigation.

Accident Investigation Toolbox Talk

Accident Investigation Toolbox Talk

Immediately after an accident

If a serious accident or fatality has occurred you will need to shut down the site to prevent further injury and so that equipment/substances, etc can be investigated.

Explain the company policy on when this should happen or who makes the decision.

What should you do?

If you are involved in an accident investigation, whether internal or external, you should:

  • jot down your memories of where you were and what you were doing at the time of the accident while fresh, to refer to later
  • listen carefully to the questions and remain calm
  • state honestly what you saw, heard or did in the events leading up to, during and following the accident
  • try not to be influenced by what colleagues are saying
  • do not be afraid to say when you do not know the answer — guessing will not help anyone and will just delay any investigation
  • remember that the reason for the investigation is to learn about what happened to prevent the accident from happening again, it is not to assign blame.
Questions for employees
  1. Who should be informed in your organisation if an accident has just occurred?
  2. If you witnessed an accident, what sort of details should you note while you remember?

Do you have any questions for me?

Contact us for further information.


What are the COVID rules for those who are double vaccinated?


What are the COVID rules for those who are double-vaccinated?

Those who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to self-isolate when coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus from Monday

The Government has confirmed that those who are fully vaccinated with the Covid jab will no longer need to self-isolate if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

This will go ahead from Monday, August 16, meaning anyone fully vaccinated will only need to quarantine if they test positive for Covid themselves. This also applies to those 18 and under, who will not need to legally self isolate from Monday if coming into close contact with someone with the virus.

In the confirmation of the change in rules, the Government said: “Getting two doses of a vaccine has tipped the odds in our favour and allowed us to safely reclaim our lost freedoms”.

What are the rules for those who are double-jabbed from Monday 16th August?

1. Quarantining with symptoms

Anyone who tests positive for the virus will still need to legally quarantine until their symptoms improve and after they have tested negative for Covid.

2. Taking PCR Tests

Everyone will still be advised to take PCR tests if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. This is to check they do not have the virus themselves, as the vaccination is not 100% effective.

This includes health care workers, if they test negative through a PCR test they can return to work and will still need to take lateral flow tests for 10 days.

3. Self-isolating after August 16

Anyone who was alerted to self-isolate before August 16 and their quarantine days ends after August 16 can leave isolation from Monday.

4. Second jab 14 days before August 16

The new rules only apply to those who have had their second vaccination within 14 days before August 16. Anyone who has had their second vaccine below 14 days before August 16 will still need to self-isolate if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive.

After 14 days after receiving the second vaccination, they can follow the new rules or not needing to self-isolate.

5. Advised to wear masks and be cautious

Everyone is still advised to wear masks in busy or enclosed areas, particularly to those who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive and those coming into close contact with someone who tested positive are encouraged to “limit contact with other people” as the Government explained.

6. NHS Track and Trace system

People will still be contacted by the NHS Track and Trace system if they have come in contact with someone who has tested positive but will instead be asked to take a PCR test, rather than to isolate.

7. NHS Covid app

The NHS Covid app will be able to prove if people have been double vaccinated or if they are under 18 years. Anyone who has not had two doses or a full vaccination course will still have to self-isolate. The self-isolation rules have helped maintain and control the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking about this Health Secretary, Sajid Javid said: “Asking the close contacts of people with COVID-19 to self-isolate has played a critical role in helping us get this virus under control, and millions of people across the UK have made enormous sacrifices by doing this, every single one of these sacrifices has helped us protect the NHS and save lives.”

Take care. Keep safe!

Contact Walker Health and Safety Services Limited for further information.

(Correct on day of posting)