Coronavirus (COVID-19): manufacturing sector guidance

Guidance for the manufacturing sector including procedures to plan for and maintain a safe place for all.


This guidance is for manufacturing sites in Scotland. It comes into effect from 26 May 2020, extending until further notice and applies to companies manufacturing in Scotland. It will be reviewed in line with the regular three weekly review of lockdown requirements.

We have worked with employers and trade unions from the manufacturing sector to ensure that this guidance is evidence-based, fair and ethical, clear and realistic. As each workplace is different it is for individual businesses to work with trade union or workforce representatives to determine how best to apply this guidance in their circumstances.

This guide is underpinned by a spirit of collaborative working between companies and their workforce. Throughout the term companies and trade union or workforce representatives is used in that context, recognising that companies have a legal responsibility to maintain workplace health and safety and must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there is not one, a representative chosen by workers. Companies cannot decide who the workforce representative will be.

This document is one of a set of documents about how to work safely in different types of workplace. This guidance is for use by manufacturing sites in Scotland. It sets out our expectations on what manufacturers of all sizes and sub-sectors need to consider as part of their planning for restart. In the case of the manufacture of essential goods where companies have remained open it establishes a framework for ongoing action to ensure those workplaces continue to change and operate safely. The guidance emphasises in particular the importance of undertaking a robust and ongoing risk based assessment with full input from trade union or workforce representatives, and to keep all risk mitigation measures under regular review so that workplaces continue to feel, and be, safe.

Publication of this guidance does not signal an immediate change in Scotland’s lockdown policy. At the current time manufacturing businesses should be closed down on a precautionary basis unless involved in essential activity against the virus or to support the wellbeing of society and able to provide confidence in maintaining a safe workplace.  A second surge in infection would cause further harm to our health, society and economy. To judge whether and when restrictions can be changed we will consider a range of evidence on the progress of the pandemic in Scotland, using the principles set out in Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making and our long-established commitment to fair work, which was set in the context of the current crisis in a joint statement with the STUC (which we have taken into account when developing this guidance).

Essential ongoing manufacturing provides an invaluable source of good practice on adaptations made to working arrangements due to COVID-19 to ensure a safe place of work. This experience is taken into account in the remainder of this guidance which sets out our minimum expectations across five key areas companies will need to consider as part of their planning for a restart and ongoing production while minimising the transmission of the virus:

  • assessing risk – involving the workforce in a risk based approach to a safer workplace
  • workforce planning – supporting those who should come to work, and those who should not
  • operational guide and checklist – changing the workplace environment to protect your workforce
  • deliveries, distribution and visitors –  protecting your workforce and those who come on-site
  • training and compliance

The regulator for health and safety at work is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who will utilise the powers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure people at work are protected.

The guidance has been published now to give employers and employees the time they need to plan and prepare.

If you can suggest ways we can improve the guidance please contact the Advanced Manufacturing Policy Team at