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NHS Test and Trace in the Workplace

Issued by the Department of Health and Social Care, this guidance has been updated to reflect the introduction of daily contact testing for workplaces.

The guidance stresses the importance of employers taking steps to keep workers and visitors safe. By following the working safely guidance and keeping the workplace clean, employers can reduce the risk of co-workers having to self-isolate if a member of staff tests positive for COVID-19, or is identified as having had close contact with someone who has tested positive.

Employers can now plan a return to workplaces, which should entail a health and safety risk assessment that includes the risk from COVID-19.

Daily contact testing

Daily contact testing is designed to offer an alternative to self-isolation for contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

An independent study has shown that daily contact testing in schools, using on-site testing, was as effective as self-isolation in limiting onward transmission. Based on the results of this study, the government is rolling out the workplace daily contact testing scheme in England, using a similar model of on-site testing.

The initial roll-out covers workplaces in sectors that provide essential services, including food distribution and production, emergency services, transport networks, defence, prisons, waste collection and energy.

Daily contact testing is only available to workplaces that have been approved to take part in the workplace daily contact testing scheme.

Staff working in these workplaces can choose to take part in daily contact testing, rather than self-isolate, where they have been identified as the close contact of someone outside their household who has tested positive for COVID-19. This involves taking a lateral flow test each day for 7 days at an approved testing site within the workplace or, for days on which they do not get tested at an approved testing site, self-isolating at home. They must self-isolate until they take their first lateral flow test, except that they can travel to work to take that test.

Where the daily test result is negative, staff can attend work, buy food if no one else can do it for them, exercise in an outdoor space, and respond to medical emergencies over the next 24 hours. If the test is positive or they develop symptoms, they self-isolate immediately and arrange a PCR test. Staff are asked to follow a range of other protocols to minimise the risk of onward transmission, such as avoiding poorly ventilated public places.

Employers taking part in the workplace daily contact testing scheme receive training to ensure they are able to provide daily contact testing safely and effectively.

Those sites approved for workplace daily contact testing will be able to continue providing this service after 16 August for contacts who have not yet been fully vaccinated. The government will keep under review the duration of the scheme.

For the full guidance, click here.

Department of Health and Social Care August 2021


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