Detailed guide: Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer aviation guidance for operators

Department For Transport

September 14
07:54 2020

This guide will help the aviation industry manage risks from coronavirus (COVID-19) and provide safer workplaces and services for workers and passengers.

General principles

The best way to protect against transmission of coronavirus is through routine:

  • robust social distancing
  • regular cleanings
  • good hand and respiratory hygiene

Where these routine measures are not possible, carry out a risk assessment and adopt additional measures.

Applicability of the suggested measures

The UK aviation sector has a diverse range of airports, aircraft, routes and operations. This guidance addresses commercial passenger and freight aviation, business aviation, and some aspects of general aviation. It is up to each organisation to arrive at a suitable risk control strategy.?

Public health authorities

This guidance applies to all countries of the United Kingdom. Aviation operators in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should also refer to the health advice from the relevant public health authority:


Cargo operators and airports should consider how the measures set out in this document should be applied, where relevant, to cargo and freight flights.

General and business aviation

The measures set out in this document should be applied, where relevant, to general and business aviation. Consider the guidance for recreational and general aviation.

Staff roles in airports and on board aircraft

This guidance applies to all workers in the aviation industry. Workers include and are not limited to: aircrew and flight crew, ground crew, retail staff, baggage handlers, maintenance engineers, shuttle / bus drivers, security staff, cleaners, catering company workers and workers who assist passengers with reduced mobility or disabilities. Consider the full range of activities and how to manage the risks arising from these roles.

Passenger responsibility

All operators (airports, airlines, travel companies, other service providers) are responsible for clear health and safety communications with workers and passengers at the appropriate points in their journey.

Communications should reinforce passengers personal responsibility for the safety of themselves and others. Operators should consider:

  • how passengers can be informed of what measures are in place and why
  • what guidance should be given to passengers on expected behaviours

There is separate guidance for passengers travelling by air and in airports.

Risk assessments

A risk assessment helps organisations identify sensible measures to control or manage the risks in workplaces and the services you provide. There are various types of risk assessment to control different types of risks. This guidance relates to health and safety risk assessments to manage the risks of coronavirus transmission.

Use this guide to ensure that your risk assessment addresses the risks of coronavirus and incorporates decisions and control measures suitable for the aviation industry. This aviation guidance sets out what the employer should be doing to control risk in a prioritised way and what staff should be doing to cooperate with their employer and to safeguard themselves and others.? There is more general guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

All existing non-coronavirus related health and safety requirements continue to apply. The Health and Safety Executive and other transport regulators can help you comply with health and safety legislation.

Review your risk assessment regularly to ensure that it remains relevant and appropriate under changing circumstances. Risk assessments should take account of other risks and ensure controls implemented for coronavirus do not increase risks due to other hazards.

Employers have a legal duty to consult employees and unions on health and safety. Workers should be involved in assessing workplace risks, and in the development and review of workplace health and safety policies in partnership with the employer. Employees should be encouraged to identify, speak up, and provide feedback on risks and control measures.

We recommend you consider the following when conducting a coronavirus risk assessment:

  • risks to workers, passengers, customers, and the public, along with the control measures required
  • the impact of control measures and whether they result in additional, different risks or non-compliance with other requirements (for example health and safety or equalities legislation)
  • applying the hierarchy of controls set out in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to control risk in a prioritised way
  • consultation with workers, or bodies representing workers, and the public
  • the visibility of the results of any risk assessment
  • service providers have duties towards individuals with protected characteristics
  • transport networks should be accessible to everyone
  • individuals should be supported to comply with social distancing
  • all equality and discrimination laws continue to apply
  • organisations need to ensure that the actions taken as a result of the assessment do not disproportionately impact those with protected characteristics
  • consideration should also be given to other groups needing additional support to travel safely, such as minors and vulnerable people

The airport, aircraft operator or other relevant parties need to conduct risk assessments to determine what the risks are and how to go about risk control.?Risks should be reduced to the lowest reasonably practical level by taking preventative measures in order of priority.

In the following order of priority, risks should be:

  • eliminated
  • controlled through substituting materials or processes with less hazardous ones
  • controlled through engineering means
  • controlled through identifying and implementing procedures
  • controlled through using individual protective measures such as gloves and face masks if all other measures have been implemented and residual risk remains

In line with HSE guidance, it is important to follow this order of priority rather than simply jump to what may seem the easiest control measure to implement.

If your risk assessment shows that personal protective equipment (PPE) is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly. This document includes specific guidance on measures for security staff in aviation.

Risk assessments should consider communication with passengers, where relevant, making it as straightforward as possible for passengers to comply with measures, and giving passengers and the wider public the information they need to have confidence in the public health measures implemented in the aviation sector.

It is important to note that the obligations to provide assistance to disabled people and people with reduced mobility, as set out in Regulation (EC) 1107/2006, remain in place. Guidance to both airports and airlines on the provision of special assistance has been produced by CAA and ECAC. Organisations need to ensure that actions taken to control risks of corona

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