Public Health England: Covid-19 Early Outbreak Management

Public Health England (PHE) have provided advice on reporting cases of Covid-19 at your business premises. In the case of construction companies those business premises are both the company office and building sites. This is what they say:

As an employer, you have a duty to ensure your staff report any symptoms of Covid-19 and immediately self-isolate and book a test.

If you are informed of more than one confirmed case among your staff or customers, you must contact your local Public Health England Health Protection Team (PHE HPT) on 0300 303 8162 and select option 1 then option 2.

They will advise you what to do next. You will not necessarily have to close but could be told to put additional hygiene procedures in place, provide further staff training or create staff bubbles or shift groups.

What you should do to manage a possible outbreak

Step 1 – Identify

You may be informed of a confirmed case of COVID-19 by NHS Test & Trace, staff, a visitor or your local PHE HPT. When you are informed of more than one confirmed case with symptoms dating within 14 days of each other, go to step 2.

Step 2 – Report

Immediately contact your local PHE HPT for help and advice. Refer to for contact details.

Every one of us plays a vital role in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Early engagement with your local PHE HPT is key to minimise any possible wider outbreak in your community. See page 2 for information you may be asked to provide. Do not worry if you are unable to answer all the questions, your local PHE HPT will help guide you through the process.

Step 3 – Respond

Your local PHE HPT will work with you to assess the risks and advise you of what actions to take.

Depending on the outcome, your local PHE HPT and Local Authority may establish an Outbreak Control Team to help support you to manage the situation.

See below for the types of action that could be put in place.

General guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

There are important actions that everyone should take at all times to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Refer to Working safely during coronavirus guidance or search the title on GOV.UK. This has practical steps to take and explains how you must carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment for your organisation.

The information contained here is specifically in relation to an outbreak, and should not replace health and safety and infection steps you already take, or have implemented as a result of consulting the ‘Working safely during coronavirus’ guidance.

Information your local PHE HPT may request from you:

Details of your organisation

  • name of company/organisation
  • location (including postcode and Local Authority)
  • key contact details: name, phone number, email
  • number of staff

Details of the cases:

  • contact details of the people affected
  • when the individual(s) became unwell
  • when they were last present in the setting
  • nature of the roles/job undertaken by any staff affected
  • known links between the individual(s) with COVID-19 (in or out of setting)
  • number of people with which the individual(s) had close contact
  • nature of the environment (for example site layout)
  • details of control measures
  • has there been any contact with other agencies? for example Local Authority, Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Types of actions you may need to put in place include:

  • Enhanced hygiene, hand washing and cleaning regimes, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Enhanced testing and tracing.
  • Increased staff/visitors’ awareness of and adherence to preventative measures.
  • Additional measures to limit access or temporary closure of the site/unit.

There is a PHE advice card which you can download here.

HBXL’s own software is here to support the construction industry

HBXL Building Software’s Health & Safety software Health & Safety Xpert 2020 includes 9 Covid-19 documents including Site and Office Covid-19 Risk Assessments (required by law). We have followed government guidelines, Public Health England, Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and worked closely with our Health & Safety Consultant.

Our estimating software EstimatorXpress 2020, now includes Covid-19 estimating calculator. This new calculator covers four key aspects – PPE, hygiene equipment, signage, plus extra Labour/Sub-contractors e.g. cleaners and extra management.

There are also optional new Covid-19 profiles you can apply to your Gantt charts, which in simple terms keeps inside trades such as plumbing and electrics 1st fix trades separate, and similarly keeping joinery, electrics and plumbing 2nd fixes separate too.

Additional links and resources

HBXL’s own round up of health and safety advice

HBXL’s advice on legal implications of managing Covid-19

The HBXL Q & A on dealing with health & safety during the crisis

Quick tips on using hand tools safely during the Covid-19 crisis

Practical examples of the construction industry responding to the safe-guarding issues relating to Covid-19

Mental wellbeing during the pandemic from Mind charity

NHS advice on anxiety