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Business best practice guide

Although there are currently no Government mandated restrictions in place, all businesses can open and working from home is not mandated, all businesses should consider how ‘Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air’ relate to their business, and what measures they can implement that will ensure the risk to their staff and customers is managed and mitigated as a priority.

The use of face coverings is strongly recommended in crowded and enclosed spaces.

To support businesses during the continuing pandemic, Isle of Man Government will provide guidance and advice on the precautions that employers can take to manage the risk of Covid-19, and ensure that staff and customers continue to be supported.

Businesses have a legal duty to manage risks to those who interact with their organisation, and this includes Covid-19. All businesses are different and will have individual needs. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to mitigating risk, so this guidance is provided to help you consider what risks are presented, and what actions could be taken. You will need to adapt this into the specific actions you need to take in your own business, depending on the size and type of business you operate.

The best way to ensure you are protecting your staff and customers is by carrying out a risk assessment which considers and evaluates the health and safety risks, as well as identifying the steps that your business will take to mitigate these risks.

A risk assessment does not need to be onerous but should be updated regularly, and communicated clearly to both internal and external stakeholders. In the long term, it is expected that businesses will need to take less precautions to manage the risk of Covid-19, and guidance will be reviewed as we progress to living with Covid-19.

No one measure will be effective in completely reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission, and the package of measures that you implement will vary depending on your business.

Guidance for all businesses

Risk Assessment

You should update your risk assessment to include the risks and management plan for Covid-19 in your business. See: Risk assessment guidance

Handwashing, hygiene and cleaning

Keeping your workplace clean and frequent handwashing reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread and is a critical part of making and keeping your business working safely.

Coronavirus can transfer from people to surfaces, and be passed on to others. It is important to maintain good hygiene, clean workplace and provide people with the right facilities to control this risk.

Businesses should undertake regular cleaning and sanitation schedules, especially of key touch points. Communal areas such as staff toilets, kitchens, staff rooms, changing rooms and shower facilities should be subject to enhanced cleaning regimes.

Encouraging staff and customers to practice good hygiene, washing hands regularly and providing hand sanitiser should be a priority for all businesses, as well as placing clear signage throughout the establishment to remind people of these good practices.

Face Coverings

It is strongly advised that the public wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces.

Face coverings can help to prevent the wearer from unknowingly passing on the Covid-19 virus to other people. It is a business’s discretion as to whether they wish to implement face coverings amongst staff, visitors and customers, but depending on the type of business you operate, it is recommended that you consider this as part of any risk management plan.

For more information on Face coverings click here.


Although there is no legal requirement to social distance, when completing their risk assessment, some businesses may identify that implementing social distancing or one-way systems.

Practices could include:

  • Assessing communal areas (both in staff areas, and customer areas) to ensure appropriate distancing is in place
  • Rearranging workstations so that employees do not face one another
  • Installing screens at customer facing counters if required for ordering, payment or collection
  • Staggering shifts or implementing rotas for staff members
  • Limiting numbers of individuals in rooms or buildings
  • Limiting the use of shared equipment/ vehicles


Employers must ensure there is sufficient ventilation in any workplace. This can be done by using:

  • Natural ventilation
  • Mechanical ventilation

The risk of transmission from someone with Coronavirus is greater in a poorly ventilated space.

Adequate ventilation reduces how much virus is in the air and transmitting through aerosol transmission (when someone breathes in small particles in the air after a person with the virus has been in the same enclosed area). Ventilation does have minimal impact on droplet transmission (when in close contact with others) and contact transmission (touching a surface that has Covid particles).

To increase natural ventilation, consider whether you can open windows, doors or air vents, giving extra consideration to what can be achieved during the winter months.

Be aware that air recirculation devices e.g. fans, do not introduce clean air to an area, they only move the same air in the space and do not replace it, therefore the risk remains the same. They are not appropriate as ventilation, they may increase the problem

To increase mechanical ventilation, consider the use of fans, ducts or other systems to being fresh air from outside. Consider reviewing maintenance schedules to ensure that your mechanical ventilation systems are operating at optimum performance. Further information is available here.

As part of your risk assessment, identify areas that are poorly ventilated, and prioritise these areas for improvement. Some businesses have found carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors helpful in doing this, because a build up of CO2 can indicate that it needs more ventilation.

Read HSE’s guidance on using CO2 monitors for business here.

Lateral Flow Testing

Lateral Flow Device tests are available to individuals in the Isle of Man. It is recommended that individuals without symptoms or cause for concern test around 2 times per week.

If you have a known case of Covid-19 in your workplace, you could encourage any staff or customers who have been in close contact with the known case for 15 minutes or more to take a lateral flow test for the 7 days following identification of the case. As long as they are not symptomatic, LFDs can work as a risk reduction

Some businesses may wish to purchase Lateral Flow Tests

If an employee exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 on business premises, the following guidance applies:

If an employee has any symptoms of Covid-19, they should go home and isolate immediately before using the online assessment tool . If their symptoms indicate possible COVID-19, the tool will advise them to contact 111. 111 will provide clinical assessment, offer testing if appropriate and provide guidance on self-isolation. If they are advised (through the self-assessment tool or 111) that the symptoms are not possible COVID-19, they do not need to self-isolate and can return to work when they feel well enough.

Go back over your records and speak to the person who has tested positive to ascertain any contacts that may have come in to close contact for more than 15 minutes with the known case.

If the employee tests POSITIVE for COVID-19, contact the close contacts and suggest that they access Lateral Flow Devices to test for a period of 7 days.

Contact Tracing

As the vaccination programme increases our defences, the approach to contact tracing has changed. Click on the below to understand the current process for contact tracing, and what you need to know as a business.

Contact tracing: What to expect if a staff member or customer tests positive for Covid-19.

Businesses, if they may wish to, can keep records of which employees are working on-site so this information can be used for contact tracing if required.

This can also be applied to visitors, and to customers in a retail or hospitality environment. A record of the visitor details with contact information (table number if applicable, full name, phone number and time of visit) will be valuable to support contact tracing if required. Please ensure details are collected at the time of booking or on arrival for walk-ins that will be using the establishment. Personal information must be stored confidentially/securely in line with existing GDPR policies and retained for up to 28 days for the purposes of tracing COVID-19 infections.

This is at the business’ discretion and the business should be mindful that the public may not feel comfortable providing personal contact details.

Vulnerable Employees

There is no specific recommendation regarding shielding when vulnerable or pregnant, however it is recommended that those with underlying health conditions discuss their needs as with any other risk assessment in the workplace.

Talk with workers about concerns they might have and provide questions you can ask to help keep your employees working safely.

Consulting with your workers

The law says you must consult with workers about health and safety matters such as reducing transmission of COVID-19.

Talking to your workers means you can:

  • explain changes you’ve made to keep working safely
  • continue to run your business safely
  • Talking to your workers also means they can:
  • tell you if they’re worried about any workplace risks
  • influence decisions about health and safety
  • You can consult your workers:
  • by talking to them directly
  • through a trade union
  • through another representative

Making time

It’s essential you make time to talk to workers about your plans for working safely.

You should always:

  • listen to what your workers say
  • agree any actions together

Take account of individual beliefs and cultures

Talk to people recognising their individuality. Hold conversations in ways that are ‘culturally competent’. This means taking account of the background, culture, beliefs of that person and their specific circumstances.

How to raise a concern

If you have concerns about the arrangements your employer is able to put in place to protect you, you should discuss with your manager in the first instance, or the Occupational Health Service (if your employer provides one).

You may also benefit from advice from one of the following organisations:

DEFA’s Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate
Phone: +44 1624 685881

Manx Industrial Relations Service (MIRS)

MIRS can help both employers and employees and can provide practical and impartial advice on any employment matter.
Phone: +44 1624 672942