Best practice for key workers

We’ve been asked to compile solutions of best practice for key workers, so you have this information all in one place. And you know us – you ask and we do!  So, here it is…

Please add to this list, with your best practice solutions for key workers, by adding them in the comments box at the bottom.



A 2m distance around staff is essential. Look at roles and try to distance personnel as much is possible.  Where you have workers close together (within 2m) – put temporary screens up between them.


Shift change

This needs careful management, to reduce the risk. Taking the supermarkets approach and ensuring a one in, one out system in the changing rooms and hand wash stations is a good solution.



Ensure that only one person can sit at each table, to ensure there is sufficient distance between personnel. Sites have extended canteen serving times, so that less people need to be in the canteen at one time.


Hand sanitising

Add more sanitising gel, at job stations, coming into the canteen, out of the canteen etc.



Ensure that touch surfaces, such as screens and buttons are cleaned and sanitised regularly.

Face masks (updated 6th April)

The virus isn’t air borne and so the benefit of a face mask is limited. The virus has to be on moisture particles to be air borne – e.g. when someone coughs. Therefore, the advice is mixed. Face masks also tend to increase the amount that someone touches their face, so they can have a negative impact.  Current practice is to offer them, if employees want to wear them.  The NHS is also advising their key workers to also wear eye protection, however they are subjected to direct exposure, so you have to weigh up the benefits.

UK Government advice on face masks

Section states that “There is very little evidence of widespread benefit from the use of face masks outside of the clinical or care settings, where they play a very important role.”

1st April Update

Employee temperatures (updated 1st April 2020)

In order to take an employees temperature you need to be within 2m of them and also you need the right equipment, which in the food industry we don’t typically have.  Therefore, the consensus is that taking employee temperatures is not a good idea. It has also been reported by the Chilled Foods Association that Public Health England is also not advising it (although this has not been publicly published).


Employee separation

Where employees cannot be separated by a distance of 2m, adding screens in between them is a good idea. These can be made of perspex or simple plastic sheeting.

Have your say…

26 thoughts on “Best practice for key workers

  1. Forehead temperature is going to be much lower than core (under tongue) temperature. We’ve been using 33C as a reassessment operational limit and 34.4 to 35C as a send-home critical limit. If someone truly has a forehead temperature of 37.8C, he or she is likely burning up at core temperature, which is going to be about 5 to 6C higher.

    1. Please be careful with this as forehead thermometers are calibrated for taking this reading so I think you need to reassess your limits as it will mislead a lot of people , I would also try and calibrate your thermometer if possible or get a different one as you are relying on guesswork for a very important decision being made.

      1. PHE COVID-19 Response team has advised us (Chilled Food Association) re temperature testing by FBOs: “We agree that temperature monitoring is not recommended in any place of work – staff members should simply stay away from work if they or members of their household are symptomatic for the recommended period of time.”

        1. If you are taking an employees temperature digitally,you are not following the UK or Scottish rule of staying 2 metres apart.Also,what if either party sneezes or coughs during the process? Can you publish the response PHE gave you please?

          1. Hi
            Unfortunately the information provided by Karin yesterday – isn’t publicly available, but provided to the CFA by PHE on a personal email.
            I will update the article this morning, to include the general consensus that temperature checks are not a good idea.

  2. We went against using forehead thermometers as they are no so reliable as they seem: what if someone has been working nest to an oven for long time, the surface may be warm but they have no fever. As the current NHS guideline stands there is no value for high temperature: “Do not leave your home if you have […] a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)”
    Nowadays you can’t even find a good thermometer anyways!
    Best way to measure someone’s temperature is to use more “invasive” way, which i am not prepared to do 😉 !!!!

  3. We have completed a survey of all offices and established a “Maximum Capacity” that cannot be exceeded in order to maximise social distancing. This is now clearly displayed on the door.

  4. Are there any suggestions as to what we should do when staff are on a production line and it isn’t possible to keep the 2 metre distance. We have implemented it everywhere else but on a line it is impossible. I have thought of masks but like you have said there are pros and cons and I am not sure I could get enough to keep supplying the staff.

  5. Hi there although a temp screen seems to be the correct theoretical answer to the problem but it becomes impractical to actually implement. One has to consider space constraints in some factories.
    Rather minimise the staff complement, have more shifts. Staggering tea and lunch breaks.

  6. Hi

    One of the many actions we have taken is looking at non essential doors . We have opened doors to offices, corridors, canteen and rest rooms to reduce shared hand contact points, opened up the training room to for staff breaks so we can minimise the number of people in the canteen . Office staff now have their own cleaning station in each room . WhatsApp group for all employees where as we issue reminders , posters , government advice etc .

  7. Hi

    We have spaced people out where we can and used clear corrugated plastic screens between packing lanes where we cannot get the distance. We have only one person per canteen table and staggered breaks.
    The non essential doors is a great idea as hadn’t thought of that one.

  8. There’s going to be a few smaller fresh produce sites where workers share accommodation, in some cases this will be the majority of the staff in certain areas. They are effectively members of the same household which changes social distancing . Is this something that the BRC will take into account do you think when we implement social distancing measures in the workplace after risk assessment? For these sites the highest risk is any new staff (if they exist) which will be required for the harvest season.

  9. Our food production site is looking to bring in a temperature check for all staff entering our food production facility. We’re thinking of infrared scan on the forehead but I am sceptical.

    What are other food production sites doing to screen staff before they enter food premises? Is anyone doing temp checks, or managing to screen people in an alternative way?

    1. Hi Dan
      Public Health England have stated that it’s best not to try to take temperatures – but instead to ask staff to monitor their own temperature and if they feel they have a fever to highlight it.

    1. Hi Anna
      It’s not public I’m afraid, however CFA have shared the content of the email:

      “From: Colin xxxxxx
      Sent: 23 March 2020 20:04
      To:; [defra], [phe]
      Cc: [defra]
      Subject: OFFICIAL: RE: food industry canteens – PRIMARY AUTHORITIES’ ENFORCING + Unions potentially seeking stoppage of work (PPE + taking temperatures)
      Hi Karin,

      We agree that temperature monitoring or PPE is not recommended in any place of work – staff members should simply stay away from work if they or members of their household are symptomatic for the recommended period of time. We will again pick this up with colleagues to see what additional messaging can be done.
      Best wishes,


      ‘Additional messaging’ as referred to by PHE has not yet emerged from Govt, unfortunately.

      Our additional view is that taking temperatures shifts responsibility onto the FBO when the person should be taking responsibility for not coming into work if unwell. “

  10. We are having difficulty carrying out some checks in production due to social distancing, is anyone else experiencing this, we are having to scale down frequency of checks etc and look at not doing certain checks during this time, they are not food safety or quality checks but checks as per customer codes of practice around traceability. We have completed a risk assessment but should we get derogations from customers to cover this? Interested to hear if anyone else is coming across this?

  11. Hi Jacqui
    We are having to make similar decisions on reducing or eliminating non-essential checks, not due to social distancing, but due to staff absence.
    I think the key to managing this is flexibility – can some checks be undertaken by line operatives instead of QA? Can some checks be taken off line? Can some checks be carried out less frequently?
    As with any significant change to a process, I would recommend that the potential impact of the change to the testing regime is reviewed and formally recorded as having been approved. If any of the tests are referenced in your HACCP, then the HACCP will need to be revised accordingly.
    With any change to process, I would advise that you draw this to the attention of your customers as a courtesy, so that they can assess the potential impact for themselves (some customers may have included “change control” within their contract with you).

  12. Has anyone got a handwashing poster in other languages?
    The Techni-K one is brilliant but I need to fit (at least) 3 languages on all my signs without wallpapering the whole area.
    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Rebecca
      We would be happy to translate the poster for you. If you let us know what languages you’re looking for?

    1. Hi Karin, thanks for sharing this. You can download the Polish and Portuguese for free, but you have to pay for the English one as it’s only available in hard copy. Is that right? Is the English one available for free download?

  13. Hi,

    We thought about doing posters in Slavic languages but found that most people who spoke them could understand Russian.

    Remember us commissioning a Russian translation but would take some digging as this was the best part of 20 years ago!

    Chilled Food Association

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