This list of frequently asked questions covers some of the key issues around returning to performance work after Covid-19 lockdown, but if you have other queries, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Risk Assessment and we will put them to our team of experts and publish them. If you are an employer, a workplace or contract performers and would like support from our Occupational Health service, please contact email@example.com.
We have also produced a Risk Assessment for freelance performers returning to work during COVID-19.
As a recording studio, what is my responsibility for people vulnerable to COVID-19?
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 Section 4 places a duty on those who control premises to ensure:
- they are maintained and
- they do not pose a health and safety risk to people (including people other than employees) who may work there.
You should therefore do a thorough Risk Assessment, identifying:
- who might be harmed
- people considered vulnerable to COVID-19
- how they may be harmed
- exposure to coronavirus, a biological hazard, on the premises (inadequate space for social distancing, lack of ventilation, shared instruments etc)
- how to reduce the risk of exposure to this hazard as low as reasonably practicable
- provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser, ensure social distancing is maintained at all times, limit the number of people sharing a space, avoid sharing equipment or instruments, ensure natural or artificial ventilation
Consider a policy of using a screening question before anyone enters the premises to ensure that people who are potentially unwell with COVID-19 do not enter. Remember that people do not have to disclose their medical history to you if they do not wish to do so, but you do have a duty to identify vulnerable people by asking them, so consider appropriate methods to achieve this, and what precautions you may wish to take for those in vulnerable groups.
How should we plan to manage particularly playing wind, percussion and string musical instruments in large studios as well as smaller practice rooms and ensemble rooms?
There is a lot of work being carried out on this topic at the moment. Preliminary data suggests that ensemble playing while maintaining a 2-metre radial distance apart does not increase risk of spreading coronavirus. In addition to good hand hygiene and social distancing, minimising time spent together in a shared space, good ventilation and avoiding sharing equipment or instruments will help, but hand hygiene and social distancing are the key players at the moment.
When can we safely play for outside engagements?
Current government guidelines do not allow outdoor gatherings for the purposes of social or cultural activities, so you need to keep abreast of developments as they occur. Outdoor performances will also require social distancing and hand hygeine.
What is the guidance for musicians rehearsing/performing with each other in enclosed spaces?
Any enclosed space should be configured to ensure a radial distance of 2 metres between all musicians (current UK social distancing guidelines). Ensure good hand hygiene and social distancing in all spaces including kitchens, green rooms and cloakrooms. Consider additional measures like ventilation, reducing rehearsal length to allow ventilation breaks, and avoiding sharing equipment or instruments.
Is there any information on the effect of aerosol projection of air from musical instruments blown, or the effect of air changes in a studio where there is no air con, but forced air?
This is being worked on at the moment in Germany, Austria and UK that we know of, and potentially elsewhere. Remember that these scientists also need ethical approval and to ensure no harm comes to musicians who are participating in this research, so it will take some time to come to a trustworthy solution, but they are working hard to find some good solutions.
What is the recommended distancing for players inside and out?
2 metres radial distance (current UK social distancing guidance.)
Are there any guidelines on hygiene/cleaning regimes for playing?
- Good hand hygiene at all times is the most important thing.
- You should avoid sharing equipment or instruments if at all possible. If you can ‘quarantine’ shared equipment for 72 hours between users, it is unlikely that coronavirus will still be present.
- You should be keeping all instruments clean using standard methods, including mouth pieces
- Keyboards and other shared equipment can be disinfected using 70% isopropyl alcohol or a standard detergent spray with a contact time of 20 seconds. Consider how you will dispose of cloths or kitchen paper used for cleaning.
- Brass players should avoid discharging condensation onto the floor, but collect it in a container that can be sealed.
- Do not blow through wind instruments to clean them, use a pull-through kept separately for each instrument. Remember to clean your mouthpiece.
For more details please see https://www.namm.org/sites/www.namm.org/files_public/resources/COVID-19%20Instrument%20Cleaning%20Guidelines.pdf
What is the best practice on loading trucks for transporting instruments/percussion/music stands etc?
It is difficult to carry and load heavy equipment whilst maintaining 2m distancing, so try to ensure as much distancing as possible as well as rigorous hand hygiene. Disinfect chairs, stands and equipment before use, once in the venue. If you share a vehicle with someone from another household, travel with the windows down and consider the use of face coverings.
What is PPE advice for musicians?
PPE should be the last thing to consider, after every other method of controlling exposure has been implemented. PPE is not a substitution for hand hygiene and social distancing.
How can I get hold of PPE?
Disposable gloves are easily available on-line and cloth face-coverings can be made at home. Medical-grade PPE including medical-grade masks and visors should not be needed outside professional settings.
We are a choir, is there any advice on how we get back to performing?
Again, researchers and scientists are working on this topic but we will need to be patient.
I am planning getting my band together to practise in my home, what are my responsibilities?
In this situation you should consider your home to be a workplace, and carry out a risk assessment in advance, informing your bandmates of how you will be managing the practice sessions.
What is RIDDOR and how am I responsible?
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) places a duty on the responsible person to report if
- An unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
- A worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
- A worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus.
You are the responsible person if you are the employer, the contractor, or if you manage the place of work.
Guidance for the person reporting: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/riddor/index.htm