When to Isolate:
In line with UK Government guidelines, if an employee or worker has had contact at work with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19 they should not need to self-isolate if they have followed social distancing rules.
The following, in line with UK Government guidelines, outlines what you need to consider if someone in the workplace tests positive for COVID-19.
The individual concerned:
- If someone informs you that they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been notified to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace you must ensure the individual self isolates and inform the individual that they should not attend the workplace. The individual should work from home if that is at all possible.
- If the individual comes to work and develops symptoms or is notified by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate, they should inform you and then go home immediately avoiding public transport, if possible. Ask the individual to avoid touching anything, if they need to use a bathroom, where possible, this should be a facility separate from others. If they need to wait for transport you should ask them to wait in an area away from others where possible.
- Individuals should continue to follow the basic advice for hygiene – wash their hands regularly, cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.
- If an employee develops symptoms whilst at work, they need to contact NHS Test and Trace and request a test as soon as they get home. They will be asked by the NHS service to provide details of anyone who they have been in recent close contact with.
A ‘close contact’ is described as a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 anytime from 2 days before symptoms were known up to 10 days after. This could be a person who spends significant time in the same household, a sexual partner, someone who has had face-to-face contact (within one metre) – been coughed on or having contact within one metre for one minute. It may also be someone who has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for more than 15 minutes. Having answered these questions, the Test and Trace service will then determine who to notify, to inform them of the need to self-isolate.
- The workplace should then be cleaned (specific advice for cleaning workplaces can be found on GOV.UK site). Those carrying out the cleaning should wear PPE (disposable gloves and an apron) and wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after removing the PPE.
- All areas where the individual has had contact should be cleaned and disinfected such as door handles, telephones, stair handrails, desks.
- All common areas they may have passed through such as corridors should be cleaned as normal.
- For cleaning and disinfecting you should be using disposable cloths/paper/mop heads for hard surfaces like floors, handles etc. Steam cleaning may be necessary for materials such as upholstered furniture.
- Disposal of waste from the cleaning and or personal waste such as used tissues, should be placed into plastic bags. These bags should then be placed in a second bag and tied. After 72 hours you should be able to dispose of the bag in the normal waste. If you dispose of the bag within 72 hours this would be treated as hazardous waste.
Communication to others:
- As part of your arrangements for COVID-19 there should be a communication plan to keep employees informed about COVID-19 cases in the workplace, but you should not name the individual(s) concerned. You may try to ascertain who is the individual has had close contact with through your normal work routines, calendar events etc but you should take care not to share the identity of an individual who has tested positive with other employees.
- When an individual orders a test or books an appointment for a test they will normally be encouraged to alert people that they have been in close contact with in the 48 hours before the onset of symptoms. They may ask you as the employer to do this for them if any of these are co-workers. The NHS Test and Trace Service however will determine who to notify and they will make the notification by email, text or phone call.
- At this stage it is important to remember those who have been in close contact do not need to self-isolate unless requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace or a public health professional. They should however remain vigilant for symptoms, avoid contact with those at increased risk such as people with pre-existing medical conditions, observe social distancing and good hygiene practices.
- If there are 5 or more COVID-19 cases in 14 days in a workplace, employers should contact the local health protection team to report a suspected outbreak (gov.uk/health-protection-team).