How to create a Covid-safe working environment:

The recent changes to Government legislation and the removal of all Covid restrictions has put a spotlight on businesses. Responsible employers have a duty of care to their staff and providing regular resting and creating a safe working environment is essential.

Employers must think about which measures they will implement to keep staff safe. Measures can include regular testing, social distancing, and the use of masks. This is particularly important if there is a resurgence in Covid cases or a new variant is discovered.

These are the questions that companies need to answer about what they are doing in future that will shape their policy:

  • Are you going to encourage social distancing in the workplace?
  • Will you encourage or enforce mask wearing in enclosed workspaces?
  • Are you going to ensure workspaces have good ventilation?
  • What approach are you taking toward working from home – and for how long?
  • Do you encourage the workforce to test for Covid – and in what circumstances?
  • What approach would you adopt if there is a new variant of concern?
  • Who among your workforce would you encourage to test – entirely voluntary, everyone in a vulnerable category, those who are unable to get vaccinated?
  • Do you provide free tests to anyone or a particular group?
  • If an employee tests positive, do you allow them to self-isolate?
  • How long would you encourage workers to work from home or self-isolate?
  • What about travel abroad – what will your approach be for employees that need to travel for business will you fund any testing they need to undertake or encourage them not to visit certain countries?

How to select a testing and laboratory partner:

Providing regular free testing to staff is a key pillar of defence against Covid-19 infections and staff absences. More importantly, staff are keen to get tested; our research shows that 66% of people think employers should provide free Covid tests for their employees and 49% of English adults said they now feel less safe as free testing has ended. This shows that staff are keen on getting tested on a regular basis and expect their employers to provide this testing.

There are several testing providers on the market but not all providers and tests are created equally. You must ensure you are using tests approved by the Government and they should be purchased from accredited testing providers.

Here is a detailed check list of what you should be looking for in testing providers:

  1. Testing providers must be accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).
  2. Testing providers who sell tests using Molecular, Antigen, or PCR technology must ensure they are approved by the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). All tests must appear on the Coronavirus Test Device Approvals (CTDA) register and fulfil the requirements outlined here. Covid tests may also appear on the Temporary Protocol list. Any test that does not appear on either the CTDA list or the protocol is not legal to place on the market in UK for the purpose of Covid diagnostics.
  3. Reputable testing providers will be members of a professional body such as the LTIO or BIVDA and will be subscribed to a rigorous code of conduct.
  4. The Government has referenced the LTIO’s code on its website which helps ensure high ethical standards throughout the industry.

Where to purchase tests:

Tests are available on the high street and from reputable testing providers. Tests start at £2 per test but it is more cost effective to order these tests in bulk from testing providers. Several LTIO members offer these services on their website. You can find more information on our website.

Remember: Please make sure you verify whether a testing provider is UKAS accredited and whether the tests they provide are on the CTDA list.