Managing Site Work During Covid-19

It is vital that on all Tilhill sites work practices are managed to minimise the risk of the spread of Covid-19 infection. This guidance is intended to introduce consistent measures on all sites in line with the Government’s recommendations on social distancing and hygiene.

We all must comply with the latest Government advice on Coronavirus at all times. We are monitoring the situation constantly and will endeavour to get the latest guidance and how it impacts on what we do to you quickly.

The health and safety requirements of any activity must not be compromised at this time. If an activity cannot be undertaken safely due to a lack of suitably qualified personnel being available or social distancing being implemented, it should not take place.

Managers should remind the workforce at every opportunity of the risk assessment and control measures which are aimed at protecting them, their colleagues, their families, and the UK population.

Personal Illness


The most important symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of any of the following:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

What you must do if you suffer symptoms

If a worker develops the symptoms above while at work, they should return home immediately, avoiding touching anything as they leave.

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness. However, if you have any of the symptoms above you must stay at home and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19.

Advice on Getting a Test

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, OR you have received a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test result, the clear medical advice is to immediately self-isolate at home for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Advice on Self Isolation

Consider alerting the people that you have had close contact with in the last 48 hours to let them know you have symptoms of coronavirus COVID-19.

Following a positive test result, you will receive a request by text, email or phone to log into the NHS Test and Trace service website and provide information about recent close contacts.

If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 10 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

What you must do if you have been in close contact with someone with symptoms

Close contact means:

  • having face-to-face contact with someone (less than 1 metre away).
  • spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone.
  • travelling in a car or other small vehicle with someone (even on a short journey) or close to them on a plane.

If you are notified by someone you have been in contact with that they have Covid-19 symptoms then you must be alert to developing symptoms yourself and pay particular attention to social distancing and hygiene.

If you are identified as a close contact by NHS Test & Trace you must follow their advice on self-isolation.

Advice if Identified as a Close Contact

What if I live with someone who has developed symptoms?

If someone in your household has developed symptoms then you must follow the guidance on self-isolation.

Advice on Self Isolation

What should I do if I am considered to be vulnerable?

There are two groups considered to be vulnerable to Covid-19. These are:

Clinically Vulnerable

Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds) More Details In Section 8 here

If you are clinically vulnerable, meaning you are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household.

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable should have received a letter telling them they’re in this group or been told by their GP.

From 1st August Shielding is being paused in England and Scotland, and from 16th August in Wales. Before returning to work a Personal Risk Assessment must be carried out in consultation with the Line Manager and the Safety & Assurance Team.

If shielding resumes then Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people should follow the advice below:

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you’re strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact to protect yourself.

This is called ‘shielding’ and the advice is:

  • Do not leave your house.
  • Do not attend any gatherings, including gatherings of friends and families in private spaces, for example, family homes, weddings and religious services.
  • Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).

If someone is living with a clinically extremely vulnerable person they must follow Government advice: Advice on Shielding

Site Requirements

Reduced Perception of the Risk and Need to Maintain Social Distancing and Hygiene

As restrictions are lifted there is a risk that the general population may feel the pandemic is over and therefore have a greater tendency to relax disciplines around social distancing and hygiene. Regular reminders to all on site will be required to ensure that appropriate social distancing and hygiene regimes are maintained at all times.

Travel to Site

If driving, you should anticipate more pedestrians and cyclists than usual, especially at peak times of day. Allow other road users to maintain social distance where possible, for example, keep windows done up when alongside cyclists at traffic lights.

Staff, Contractors and tree planting teams should, wherever possible, travel to site alone. This may require a review of parking facilities at site. If a team of tree planters live together under the same roof, they are deemed to be a household unit and as such it is acceptable that they can travel together.

If you have to travel with people outside your household group, try to share the transport with the same people each time and keep to small groups of people at any one time. Be aware of the surfaces you or others touch. If people from different households use a vehicle, you should clean it between journeys wearing disposable gloves and using standard cleaning products. Make sure you clean door handles, the steering wheel, gear lever, handbrake and other areas that people may touch.

Where people from different households need to use a vehicle at the same time, good ventilation (keeping the car windows open) and facing away from each other may help to reduce the risk of transmission. Where possible, consider seating arrangements to optimise distance between people in the vehicle.

Avoid stopping off on the way to work or way home, except for fuel. Limit the time you spend at garages, petrol stations and motorway services. Try to keep your distance from other people and, if possible, pay by contactless. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands when arriving and leaving.

Avoid use of public transport e.g. trains and buses.

Arrival at Site

Sites must be run in accordance with the requirements of the risk assessment and additional hygiene measures.

If sites are restarting the risk assessment must be fully reviewed to ensure it is still fit for purpose. A fresh Pre-Commencement Meeting will be required.

If staff are returning after a period of absence to sites that have continued to work they will need to be brought up to speed. A review of the risk assessment will be required to be undertaken and a site induction completed.

Maintain a site attendance register with names, company name and contact details. This should be completed by the one person on site to maintain hygiene. This will be used to assist with contact tracing should anyone on site start to display symptoms of Covid-19.

Prior to any site visit all persons must be asked the following questions:

  • Have you displayed any symptoms of Covid-19 within the last seven days?
  • Have you been in close contact with anyone displaying symptoms, or anyone with a confirmed case of coronavirus within the last 14 days and been required to Self-Isolate by Tracing Services?
  • Are you in a high or moderate risk category? (Clinically Extremely Vulnerable are High Risk and must not attend site. Clinically Vulnerable are Moderate Risk and can attend site but must pay particular attention to distance and hygiene)
  • Do you care for or look after anyone that is identified as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable?

If any individual answers ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, they must not attend the site visit and follow current public health guidance.

Ensure all first aiders on site have been issued with the Tilhill guidance “Advice for First Aiders During Covid-19” They must have access to disposable gloves, eye protection and a resuscitation mask.

Site Meetings

It is important that sites remain suitably supervised and that the normal Safety & Assurance controls, including AMS Inspections continue.

  • Only essential personnel should attend site meetings, e.g. FWM, Main Contractor, Site Supervisor
  • All participants must follow Government advice on staying away from home at the time of the meeting. When staying away is not permitted all participants must only travel to site and return home safely in the same day.
  • Hold meetings in open areas.
  • Attendees should be two metres apart from each other.
  • Hard-copy paperwork and signatures should not be exchanged on site; this can be done by email afterwards.
  • Consider use of conference/video calls.

Visitors to Site

Authorised visitors to site should be kept to a minimum. Visitors must be given a site induction, including the infection control measures being adopted on site. Inductions are to be given while respecting Social Distancing.

It is likely that Social Distancing restrictions will be in place for some time to come and so the normal site safety signs must be accompanied by Covid-19 specific signs carrying reminders of appropriate Social Distancing.

Avoid Close Working

Always maintain 2 metres distance from other workers wherever possible. For most operations this will be straightforward due to the nature of our work. Non-essential physical work that requires close contact between workers should be avoided wherever possible.

There may be some work situations where people need to work in close proximity. These need to be reviewed to see if they can be done differently so that workers can stay 2m apart. If not, you need to decide whether that activity can be stopped (without making the job less safe). If it can’t, you will need to put in place additional measures which may include:

General Principles:

  • Work requiring skin to skin contact should not be carried
  • Keeping the activity time involved as short as
  • Further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface
  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever
  • Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others, if possible, use operators from the same household).
  • Using screens or barriers to separate people from each
  • Re-usable PPE should be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared between
  • Single use PPE should be disposed of so that it cannot be
  • Restrict machinery to one operator as much as possible during this period. If this is not possible then the cab and contact points must be cleaned between

If people must work face-to-face for long periods with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead. No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.

Be aware that people will have different sensitivities around what is an appropriate social distance and we must all be respectful of and sensitive to each other at what is a very difficult time, this includes dogs running freely around the site. Where dogs are on site they must be under control and kept away from others. Dogs should not be petted by people other than their owner. The risk is not from the dog carrying the infection, but from contact with a source.

Public Presence on Site

Easing of restrictions is likely to be accompanied by an increase in public presence around worksites. It is likely that Social Distancing restrictions will be in place for some time to come and so the normal Public Safety signs must be accompanied by Covid-19 specific signs carrying reminders of appropriate Social Distancing, including keeping dogs on leads.

Levels of Public access must be monitored. If levels are causing concern for safety or effective infection control measures then the FWM must be notified and actions put in place. This may include banksmen on heavily used paths or access points.


Welfare must be provided on site as normal.

Restrict the number of people using welfare facilities at any one time. Break times should be staggered to reduce numbers using the welfare. Workers should sit 2 metres apart from each other whilst eating and avoid all contact. Keep windows open to aid natural ventilation where possible.

Ensure soap and hand washing facilities are available with warm running water. Consider the provision of additional external hand wash stations. These do not require warm running water if that is available in main welfare. Hands free operation should be selected where possible. Only in exceptional circumstances provide hand sanitiser where hand washing facilities are unavailable.

Wash hands before and after using the facilities, especially before eating or drinking. Bring pre-prepared meals and refillable drinking bottles from home.

After using the facilities and following the final hand wash, use the paper towels to turn off the taps and opening of the door then dispose of the paper towel in the bin provided. Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.

Display posters in the welfare unit supporting good hand hygiene.

Cleaning the Welfare

Enhance the cleaning regimes for welfare facilities.

  • Toilet high contact points such as door handles, locks and the toilet flush, should be cleaned after each use by the user using wipes or cleaning spray and paper towel
  • Tables should be cleaned between each use
  • Welfare units should be given a thorough clean down at least once a day
  • Keep a record of the date and time of thorough cleaning

Cleaning General Areas: Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and dispose of them afterwards. Using a disposable cloth, first clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water. Then disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you normally use. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds afterwards.

Cleaning the toilet:

  • Prop doors open to allow good
  • Clean the door handles, taps, countertops, basins, mirrors, walls behind the basins and the paper and soap dispensers in the toilet with a wet cloth and the disinfecting multi-purpose cleaner. Pay special attention to cleaning contact
  • Apply a small dose of the detergent on the toilet bowl, on both sides of the lid and on the seat. Close the lid of the toilet and flush the
  • Apply the toilet bowl cleaner on the bowl and its vertical surfaces while paying special attention to stains. Put on long cleaning gloves that go up to your elbow on top of the disposable gloves. Clean the bowl with a toilet brush. Wash the brush when you flush the toilet and close the lid. Clean the outer surfaces of the bowl and any stains on the wall with a disposable cloth. Clean the long gloves with a disinfectant afterwards
  • Recommended cleaning order on the toilet:
    • cistern and its handle
    • top cover
    • seat ring
    • toilet

Clean and disinfect frequently used objects such as mobile phones, keys, wallets, etc.

Returning Home After Work

  • Remove footwear: Don’t walk through the house with your shoes/boots Take them off at the door.
  • Clean your hands: Avoid touching anything until you wash or sanitise your hands.
  • Wash clothes: Put your clothes and bags into a separate container from your family’s clothes and wash them in a hot washing machine cycle (over 60 degrees).
  • Shower: Have a shower and make sure to wash your hands, wrists, neck and anywhere else that has been exposed.

When Should Sites Close?

As the situation with Covid-19 progresses infection rates may fluctuate causing local or national restrictions to be imposed. This may have an effect on sites remaining operational.

Application of the guidance above must be monitored on site. If it is not being met, then corrective action is required to be taken. If it cannot be met, then alternative working methods will have to be found or the site closed.

Local situations may mean local Mountain Rescue teams cannot offer operational assistance that is required to extract casualties from difficult steep ground. Local hospitals may also have peak demand from localised clusters of Covid-19. In these circumstances sites that would have emergency response affected must be reviewed and potentially closed. This would especially impact on motor manual felling.

FWM must also look ahead to the potential for sites to close. Sites must not be left with trees or other factors left in an unsafe manner. Prior planning will help in the eventuality of closing a site. Consider hung up or wind blown trees, large timber stacks, trees adjacent to powerlines and public rights of way that are at risk of wind blow etc.

Sites should close in the following circumstances:

  • If the above measures to protect those on site and stop the spread of the infection cannot be met
  • If Government restrictions tighten and force closure of non-essential workplaces, even if the above measures can be met. This might not include all Tilhill sites that are providing timber to essential supply chains
  • Customer demand on product stops or Client instructs closure of sites
  • If illness among those involved in the safe running of site means any of the following:
    • Insufficient supervision of operations by either Tilhill as FWM or Contractor.
    • Insufficient numbers to undertake tasks safely.
    • Insufficient first aiders on site.
    • Specific required competencies are missing from the work force.
    • Stocks of timber are not moving from site and to continue would produce unsafe timber stacks.
    • Support services to the site cannot be provided, e.g. fuel supplies, Welfare servicing.
    • Supplies of raw materials, such as trees, chemicals etc, become unavailable.
    • Landowner requires that all works on their land cease.

Tilhill Areas/Regions must share information on ongoing works across Managers so that if any have to self-isolate the appropriate supervision can be picked up by a colleague. If high levels of absence are experienced, then a review of sites must be conducted to ensure appropriate levels of supervision can continue. This may require lower priority sites being temporarily closed.

Contractors have a duty to keep FWM informed of absence within their workforce and how they intend to cover the absence.

The decision to close a site principally rests with the Forest Works Manager, but where Tilhill represent the landowner we will require a Third Party FWM to undertake the same considerations.

Closing a Site

Should a site have to be temporarily closed then it must be left in a safe condition. This may mean that a short timescale is allowed to make sure the site is left in a safe and secure condition. This will be agreed between the FWM and the Contractor.

The safety of those who may enter the site during the shutdown must be considered. Where a site is close to housing, members of the public may choose to exercise in the Forest or work area. We must assume they will not appreciate the risk of the site and act accordingly.

The security of plant and equipment must also be considered. If sites are closing then some in society may seek to take advantage of the situation for their own illegal gains, or vandalism.

Written notification of the site closure must be sent to the contractor to allow them to access government financial support.

A suggested checklist is given below, however your site may have additional issues to consider:

  • Have all at risk trees, including hung up trees been felled?
  • Are timber stacks left at an appropriate height and profile? Are they well signed and consider using hazard tape around them to emphasise the point.
  • If timber haulage is to continue to supply essential services, how will the Haulier access the site and manage lone work risk while on site.
  • Remove all Machinery and Equipment where possible. Where this has to remain on site ensure it is left in a safe and secure state. Remove any external features possible e.g. additional lights.
  • Remove fuel, oils and chemicals from site wherever If left on site ensure it is left securely and away from water courses.
  • Secure welfare units left on site. If hired could they be returned for the closure period.
  • Ensure any environmental mitigation measures are in place.
  • Consider how the site will be monitored during the period of closure to ensure applied controls remain in place and effective.
  • Remove any waste from site, this includes oil cans, empty tree bags etc, ensuring normal waste transfer and disposal arrangements are followed.