Safer working environment for staff and passengers
As a minimum we expect:
- the application of those enhanced mitigation measures as informed by your Covid-19 Risk Assessment in order to suppress transmission of the virus
- enhanced hygiene regimes in workplaces, public areas and on vehicles and vessels.
Please note that none of the mitigation measures should substitute another. Good hand and respiratory hygiene, face coverings and ventilation are, together, an effective package of interventions in suppressing COVID-19. When one of these measures cannot be met operators should take extra precautions to ensure their services are safer for everyone.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The Scottish Government is continuously looking to improve the supply and distribution of the protective equipment that is so vital in the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19). Guidance for non-healthcare settings from Health Protection Scotland provides up to date guidance and information on general principles of infection prevention and control and health protection measures. PPE should be worn in line with health and safety requirements.
PPE is the last step in the hierarchy of risk and other control measures should be considered before the application of PPE. The non-healthcare settings guidance states that occupations should continue to use PPE as per local policies i.e. business as usual. The exception is where a risk assessment of the setting indicates that a higher level of contamination may be present or there is visible contamination with body fluids, then the need for additional PPE such as an apron and gloves should be considered.
PPE protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment; such as face masks. Where PPE is required, it must be of a sufficient PPE standard to protect the wearer and employers must ensure that it is available.
Unless employees are in a situation where the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. You must also consider any training necessary to manage the risks of misuse, the risks of wearers and correct disposal of masks. Any PPE provided must fit properly.
By law, a face covering must be worn by anyone using a passenger transport service or a passenger transport service premises. This legal requirement also extends to most indoor public places, indoor communal spaces including retail, restaurants, cafes, bars, public houses, manufacturing settings, warehouses, in workplaces and during vehicle lessons and tests unless you are exempt. In all other non-mandatory settings, such as outdoor events and crowded places, the use of face coverings is encouraged.
A list of areas where face coverings are mandatory is available. This includes any indoor communal area in a workplace and where there are no measures in place to keep people separated by either a partition or distance of at least 1 metre. The face coverings guidance provides further advice and guidance on how to apply this in the workplace.
A number of exemptions apply which mean that some people do not need to wear face coverings based on specific circumstances. On ferry services, face coverings must be worn by passengers and staff unless the ferry, or part of the ferry which is open to members of the public, is entirely outdoors. Ferry operators, as part of their risk assessment, will determine where on their vessels face coverings are to be worn.
Staff might not be required to wear a face covering in non-public areas of a station, ferry terminal or airport, unless the risk assessment of the operator determines that they should be worn. The operator should, however, ensure that other mitigations are in place to reduce the increased risk of transmission. Staff are also not required to wear a face covering on a vehicle where they are physically separated by a partition from other passengers or staff by means of, for example, a protective screen. An illustrative example of the latter might be a driver of a vehicle in a cab or behind a Perspex screen on a bus or in a taxi.
Operators of services, stations, ferry terminals or airports should note that the requirement to wear face coverings applies to all persons where the public are present. For example, contractors performing duties on behalf of the operator such as cleaning services on a train or persons making deliveries within a public area are equally required to wear a face covering.
Wearing a face covering can be uncomfortable and may not be appropriate for long durations of time, employers should therefore consider providing opportunities for staff to take relief in non-public areas. Employers should ensure that these non-public areas are as safe as possible for employees, for example, by having a maximum capacity of employers allowed in, having staggered break-times, providing cleaning and sanitising products and installing air purifiers. When wearing a face covering on a public transport service or at a public transport station, ferry terminal or airport, staff should take into account the needs of passengers, particularly those with hearing impairment and those who lip-read. In these situations, staff should remove their face coverings, as necessary, to provide advice, information or assistance. There will also be instances where staff will have reasonable cause to remove a covering for a temporary period which might be, for example, to address public safety or injury, such as the dispatch of trains or buses.
Operators should strongly consider displaying prominent signage on trains, buses, trams, subway carriages, taxis and private hire vehicles and at entrances to, and within, stations, ferry terminals and airports that face coverings must be worn. This signage should also display the exemptions that apply (in general terms) and that face coverings should be reused, if appropriate, or disposed of safely. Ferry operators should equally consider displaying prominent signage advising whether and where face coverings must, or need not, be worn on the vessel. Staff and passengers should be advised that for children under 12 years of age and for those people with health conditions who cannot wear a face covering safely, an exemption applies. Emergency responders and constables acting in the course of their duties are equally excluded from this requirements. A full list of exemptions are outlined in more detail in the Regulations.
Operators and staff may enquire as to why passengers are not wearing face coverings and remind them of their legal obligations. In doing so, they are expected to be sensitive in their dealings with passengers, as many illnesses or disabilities are hidden. There is no obligation on a passenger to produce a doctor’s letter or any form of notification to confirm that they have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering. The emphasis throughout this crisis is to explain the reasons why particular measures are in place, and encourage appropriate behaviours and a sense of collective responsibility. Enforcement is the last resort and, in respect of the wearing of face coverings, is a matter for Police Scotland and the British Transport Police.
People may remove their face covering if they need to take medication or to eat or drink where reasonably necessary. People can remove a face covering temporarily to comply with a request by a relevant person or another person acting in the course of their duties. An example of such a circumstance might be when a Border Staff or Police or a ticket examiner needs to check identity.
Passengers are expected to provide their own face coverings. A face covering is not a surgical or other medical-grade masks, but a facial covering of the mouth, nose and chin, for example, a scarf. Operators may wish to have their own stocks of cloth or textile face coverings available as an initial encouragement to those passengers without face coverings.
The wearing of face coverings by passengers or staff must not replace other mitigation measures, such as hand washing and respiratory hygiene.
Employees must wear a face covering when performing duties on a public transport service or in a public area of a station, enclosed ferry terminal or airport. Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely and provide advice, if requested, on applying and removing the covering.
More information can be found in the guidance on the use of face coverings.
If a person is not wearing a face covering on public transport, in a taxi or private hire vehicle or in the public areas of a station, enclosed ferry terminal or airport without a reasonable excuse, they will be in breach of the law. That means they will be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum. The relevant legislation is The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) regulations 2021 as amended.
Face Covering Exemption Cards
Exemption cards are available to those staff and passengers who are exempt from the regulations. The cards are accessible from 29 October 2020 via a free helpline 0800 121 6240 or online contact form. Transport Operators and staff must be aware that individuals do not need to produce an exemption card to Transport Operators to prove they are exempt from face coverings.
The card is illustrated with a face covering and the text on the card is large enough to be read from a distance of 2 metres, thus meaning close physical contact is not required.
The exemption cards, both digital and physical, will be delivered through a third sector organisation (Disability Equality Scotland). The physical card will be posted to users and the digital card will be emailed to users as an attachment. It will not be available to download directly from the website.
The face covering exemption card does not replace other exemption cards such as the UK Government exemption card, Thistle card or Sunflower lanyard. These are all valid forms of proof of exemption from face coverings.
Staff arriving at and leaving the workplace
When arriving and leaving the workplace, there may be occasions when employees are in the same space or are using entrances and exits at the same time. You should consider opportunities to reduce risk in these situations. We expect you to consider:
- staggering arrival and departure times
- queuing management, including floor markings, signs and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points,
- hand sanitation at entry and exit points and not using touch-based security devices (such as keypads).
- providing additional safe facilities for those using active travel means (running/walking/cycling) to access work.
Protecting staff in the workplace
Where staff are unable to work from home, you should be taking steps to reduce transmission from face-to-face interaction in the workplace, which may include public areas. We expect you to consider:
- signage which reinforces expectations of employees at relevant locations (i.e. reminding to wear a face covering)
- teams or shift groups, fixing these teams or shift groups so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people.
- ways to remove direct contact through use of drop-off points or transfer zones.
- using digital means to undertake work, where possible
- reconfiguring seating and tables to optimise spacing and to avoid people working face-to-face
- providing increased levels of hand sanitation in workspaces.
- reducing job and location rotation.
- updating first aid training.
Staff sharing vehicles at work
We recognise that there may be occasions when there is no alternative to share vehicles. This should be limited as much as possible and you should keep regular sharing to the same people each time.
Such work cohorts could also be useful where a job role requires groups of the same workers to work in close proximity, such that they are likely to be deemed close contacts as set out in the Test and Protect guidance. It may help to maintain business operations in the event that a worker develops symptoms or is tested positive for the virus, as exposure would be limited to their particular cohort.
We expect you to consider implementing the following measures:
- limit the number of people in the vehicle to as few as possible, ideally no more than 2 and using the biggest vehicle available
- keep your distance and take care entering and exiting the vehicle
- promoting single person or contactless refuelling where possible
- using physical screening, provided this does not compromise safety
- windows in the vehicle should be opened as far as possible taking account of weather conditions to improve ventilation in the space
- sit as far apart as possible in the vehicle, avoiding face-to-face
- using a fixed pairing system if people have to work in close proximity, for example in a vehicle
- the wearing of face coverings by all occupants unless an exemption applies and provided it does not compromise driver safety in any way
- occupants should perform hand hygiene before entering the vehicle and again on leaving the vehicle
- occupants should avoid eating in the vehicle
- passengers in the vehicle should minimise any surfaces touched and should sanitise their hands after touching any surfaces
- keep the volume of any music/radio to a minimum to prevent the need to raise voices in the vehicle
the longer the journey, the higher the risk; keep journey times to the minimum feasible and do not linger in the vehicle before or after the journey itself.
regular cleaning of vehicles, in particular between different users. Particular attention should be paid to high risk touch points such as door handles, electronic buttons and seat belts.
Cleaning and ventilation
To prevent the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) by people touching contaminated surfaces, you should undertake frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly in work and public areas or on vehicles and vessels. The frequency of cleaning should be determined by the frequency that objects and surfaces are likely to be touched. Where operationally feasible, internal cleaning of vehicles should be undertaken at the end of journeys in addition to daily cleaning at the end of service. You should also consider the cleaning of all workstations, shared vehicles, hand tools, controls, machinery and equipment after use and between each shift and user.
Good ventilation can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, so a focus on improving general air flow, preferably through fresh air or effective mechanical systems will help keep staff and users safe. For this reason, operators should ensure that a fresh air supply is consistently flowing through vehicles, vessels, carriages, transport hubs and office buildings. Particular consideration should be given to maintaining ventilation flows during the colder months when there is a tendency, for example, to close windows. Fresh ventilation systems can operate as normal, but recirculating air systems may require adjustments to increase air flow and checks, for example on filters, should be conducted frequently.
A range of guidance has been developed to help businesses, employers and employees understand what good ventilation is which includes Scottish Government ventilation guidance and the Health and Safety Executive guidance on ventilation and air conditioning during COVID-19.
Where vehicles, vessels and carriages allow for the provision of toilet facilities, operators should ensure frequent cleaning and sanitisation of such facilities in line with the operator’s risk assessment to minimise the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). Bins should be provided for the disposal of paper towels and hand washing soap should be made available. Regular monitoring of toilet facilities should be encouraged to identify and fix faults, and to maintain hygienic standards.
To encourage good hygiene you should use signage, announcements and any other relevant communication tools to remind customers and staff to maintain hygiene standards (i.e. hand washing and coughing etiquette and the benefits of washing hands before, during and after boarding vehicles or vessels). You should ensure sufficient provision of hand sanitiser for staff in work areas in addition to washrooms, and for staff within vehicles or vessels. The provision of hand-sanitisers, preferably hands-free, for use by passengers at busy stations and terminals and on vehicles and vessels is encouraged, subject to appropriate risk assessments on operational implications, including passenger flow management.
Ensure that your emergency procedures are followed during an emergency or situation requiring an evacuation.
If anyone becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) in a transport setting, they should be advised to return home and follow appropriate guidance, which can be found on the Health Protection Scotland COVID-19 website.
If they need clinical advice, they should go on line to NHS 111 or call by telephone 111. In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy urgent care centre or hospital.
There is currently no requirement to self-isolate if you have been in proximity with someone showing coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms in the workplace unless the person subsequently tests positive for Covid-19 and you have been deemed to be a close contact.
Staff should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell.
It is not necessary to close the transport setting or send staff home.
Any incidents of assault involving the dispersal of respiratory droplets or phlegm on staff or passengers on the transport network should be reported in the normal manner with staff and passengers prevented from accessing affected surfaces until they have been cleaned.