Workforce safety and wellbeing

Community workshop in the Gardens Pavilion at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, London
Community workshop in the Gardens Pavilion at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, London

Risk Assessments

Assessing and mitigating for risks is at the heart of being Covid Secure as a workplace and cultural venue.

Completing a Risk Assessment should be the first step in any plans or actions around re-opening. Guidance from DCMS on re-opening includes comprehensive sections on managing risk. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have a Risk Assessment template on their website and colleagues have shared some example risk assessments below.

Example risk assessments

Training and resources

You will need to consider what new training may be needed for your workforce in light of changes you make to be Covid Secure. For example, visitor welcome training may need to be tweaked to include building awareness of how PPE can impede non-verbal communication with audiences, particularly those with sensory impairment, mental health and communication conditions or a dementia diagnosis. If you are delivering more activity online or offsite, do team members need additional training in how best to devise sessions or deliver?

You should also consider the cost, resource and timing implications of any training.

Training needs

GEM, Engage and the TEF surveyed freelancers about their current needs in July 2020. The most frequently mentioned skills freelancers wanted more training on were:

  • Delivering learning online
  • Using online platforms (for example, Zoom)
  • Creating digital content (for example, making films)
  • Running a Covid Secure workshop or using objects and resources in a safe manner
  • Developing blended learning pedagogy
  • Online safeguarding

Training providers

The key UK training providers for topics related to museum and gallery learning are GEM and Engage. Both have been developing online training to support the sector as a result of Covid-19.

Other training providers include the Museums Association, Museums, Galleries Scotland the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Kids in Museums. Support for digital can be found at Culture 24 and the AMA provides support for freelancers. Artswork delivers safeguarding training and Engage Scotland are planning online safeguarding training.

Further resources

StageTEXT have launched a series of free training videos to teach people working in arts and culture how to subtitle their own work and to understand the benefits and importance of subtitles.

Arts Marketing Association are offering free online training and webinars, open to members and non-members.

Face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Everyone is strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where there are people they do not normally meet. Face coverings are not classified as PPE.

In England, Scotland and Wales, members of the public are required by law to wear face coverings in cultural venues. There is specific guidance for each home nation that also includes information about disposal of face coverings.

Scotland guidance

Face coverings must be worn by everyone aged five and over at indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites, museums and galleries. There is an exemption for ‘members of staff, or volunteers, of indoor premises where it is mandatory to wear a face covering who are physically separated, by means of, for example, partition screens, from passengers or customers or if they maintain a two metre distance from customers or members of the public’.

England guidance

From 8 August members of the public in England visiting theatres and ‘museums, galleries, aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, or other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites’ are required to wear a face covering by law. Children under the age of 11 are excluded. Schools are not included in the list of indoor settings, however the guidance says ‘You should also wear a face covering in indoor places not listed here where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet’.

Wales guidance

Face coverings for everyone aged 11 and over became mandatory in indoor public places across Wales from 14 September, for both customers and staff. The guidance specifically includes museums. Schools and childcare settings are not public places, but schools can make the decision about whether to require face coverings in secondary schools and in what areas they are worn.

Ask yourself:

  • Are all your staff aware of face covering exemptions? Are they fully trained in how to deal with queries or situations surrounding the use/non-use of face coverings?
  • How will the use of face coverings and PPE affect staff communication with audiences, particularly non-verbal communication?
  • Will staff use face visors/shields rather than cloth face coverings? How about front-of-house staff? Mix of both? (In Scotland visors must be used with a face covering underneath.)
  • Will hand sanitiser gel points be available for visitors as well as staff?
  • Will you provide protective items for the public and if so, will these be free of charge? Have you factored this into your budgeting?
  • How will your organisation dispose of face coverings and PPE?

Useful online resources relating to workplace safety and wellbeing

Covid-19 guidance

PPE disposal guidance

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Scotland primary healthcare setting