The Government has produced practical actions for businesses to take based on five main steps. 

This will affect your workplace and the way you work there. Your employer may have to make changes to the layout of the workplace, the working hours, the procedures and processes and how you interact with colleagues and customers.

Clear communication with your employer is very important. Make sure you understand the new rules that you are being asked to abide by, and if you are unsure or feel unsafe speak to your line manager to address your concerns and see if there are any changes that will improve your working situation.

Your employer should:

1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment

Before restarting work, employers must ensure the safety of the workplace and consider employees with sight loss. Your employer should:

  • carry out a risk assessment that considers issues relating to sight loss.
     
  • talk to you and get your opinion or consult with your trade union.
     
  • share the results of the risk assessment with you. The document should be produced in an accessible format that is appropriate for you and you should make sure to be familiar with what is included in the Risk Assessment.

2. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures

You have a responsibility to protect yourself and your colleagues from coronavirus. As at home, you should increase the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning by:

  • following government guidance on hand washing and hygiene.

  • using hand sanitiser around the workplace.

  • frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly.

  • following use and cleaning guidance for toilets.

  • using hand drying facilities – either paper towels or electrical dryers.

3. Consider working from home

If you have concerns about your safety in the workplace, you should discuss these with your line manager. For some people working from home may be a more suitable option. If you and your employer want to look investigate this, remember to:

  • discuss home working arrangements.

  • talk about the software and equipment you use and the practicalities of using these at home.

  • consider how to stay included in team communications.

  • think about ways to look after your physical and mental wellbeing. 

4. Maintain two metre social distancing, where possible

Where possible, your employer should make it possible to maintain two metre distance between people, your colleagues or customers.

There are challenges for people with sight loss to social distance and you need to speak to your line manager about how safe and comfortable you feel. Working from home may be a more suitable option but be open with your line manager and discuss how the onus is on sighted staff to keep two metre distance from colleagues who are blind or partially sighted.

5. Where people cannot be two metres apart, manage transmission risk

When it is not possible to maintain the two metre rule your employer will make arrangements to minimise the risk of transmitting COVID-19. These arrangements could include:

  • re-organising workstations, so you might be working back-to-back or side-to-side with your colleagues.

  • staggering arrival and departure times, so you might start earlier or finish later.

  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other.

  • reducing the number of people you have contact with, so you might be assigned a ‘fixed team’ or a work partner.

  • considering changing the activities of the business and keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.

  • making new arrangements for the use of shared spaces and planning new routeways through workplaces.

All of these changes are designed to keep you, your colleagues and your customers safe. Make sure you understand the new arrangements and are involved in discussions that involve your situation. Talk to your line manager, trade union rep or HR Department if you are worried or have concerns about your safety.

If you would like to know more, please contact our Sight Loss Advice Service on 0303 123 9999.