While many businesses are back operating under new Covid friendly regulations, there are many workplaces where staff are still yet to return. This transition from home to office working could be a daunting process for many, that’s why it’s essential your staff feel they are coming back to a Covid safe workspace.
This helpful, Covid secure guide will take you step-by-step through the measures you must take to stop the spread, and protect your workforce.
While measures will vary depending on your sector and the activities as a company you undertake, there are several fundamental principles that apply across the UK work sector.
How to create a Covid secure workplace
1. Risk assess
Before any workplace resumes, you must carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. This will ensure that your organisation has covered all bases in determining what control measures must be put in place moving forward.
A risk assessment is a legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety regulations. While it’s important to understand that there will always be a risk posed by Covid-19, you must be able to demonstrate that you are taking all the steps necessary to keep people safe.
Once this is complete, you need to review your existing risk assessments, to ensure they haven’t been impacted by new processes or Covid safe procedures you adopt.
2. Keep up to date with guidance
You must keep up to date with the latest sector-specific guidance on working safely during the Coronavirus. The UK Government has published a guide which is intended to ensure businesses are ‘Covid-19 secure’.
Access this: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19).
3. Think about your employees
While reopening your office, or business may look like a switch to normality, the risk of infection is still very much there. This can make employees feel anxious, whether this be for their own health, the worry of bringing the virus home to loved ones.
You must reassure your staff that you have their best interests at heart. Take time to explain the measures taken to protect them, ensuring you consult them about any changes.
Listen to your employees too; they have first-hand knowledge of their workplace and any potential risks there may be.
4. Consider vulnerable workers
Take time to address which of your employees are vulnerable to Covid-19 and its symptoms.
Vulnerable workers could include:
- Elderly people
- Pregnant women
- People with existing underlying health conditions
Make sure as an organisation you are taking every precaution to protect those at high risk.
For more information, follow guidance from the HSE (Health and Safety Executive): Protect vulnerable workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
5. Promote and apply high hygiene standards
To ensure a Covid safe workspace, you must reduce the potential of a coronavirus spread.
- Ensure surfaces, door handles, and touchpoints are cleaned regularly using disinfectants.
- Encourage employees to use hand sanitiser at regular intervals with dispenser stands.
- Provide hand washing facilities and offer significant signage with clear instructions.
- Provide disposable masks.
- Ensure employees wear a face covering when manoeuvring from place to place
- Set clear guidelines for how toilets are cleaned and used.
6. Ensure social distancing is in place
Where possible, you should keep people 2 metres apart. If this is not viable, keeping 1 metre apart with risk mitigation is acceptable.
You should consider the following:
- Floor stickers or paint to clearly mark our work areas.
- Social distance hygiene signage to remind employees of the 2m distance.
- Introduce social distancing queue barriers to enforce a one-way system.
- Place sneeze guards between desks and face-to-face points.
- Have people working side-by-side in opposition to face-to-face.
- Closing communal areas.
- Closing off some desks and prohibiting hot desks.
- Allow only essential trips between sites or within buildings.
- Limit movement of people:
- In lifts.
- In work vehicles.
- In high-traffic areas like corridors or walkways.
We understand there are factors, in some work settings, that make 2m social distancing unachievable. This means you must do everything you can to prevent the risk. These measures include:
- All staff wear face coverings (even when seated at desk).
- Placing screens or barriers between workers.
- Staggering working hours to limit staff volumes.
For more in-depth information, check out the latest social distancing advice to make your workplace COVID-secure on the HSE Government website.
7. Keep close track of third parties
Anyone entering your building for work-related reasons, such as cleaners, maintenance workers, technicians or other contractors must be aware of the systems you have in place.
It’s your responsibility to minimise their transmission risk.
What to do if an employee contracts Covid-19
Make sure you have an evident procedure in place for dealing with individuals who become symptomatic while at work. This should include:
- Sending them home to self-isolate in line with the stay at home guidance.
- Cleaning and disinfecting any potentially contaminated surfaces,
- Encouraging employees to get tested.
Introduce a reinforced signing in procedures and ensure all your employees’ contact details are up to date.
While we understand you may be eager to have your employees return to work, it is important, however, that all appropriate measures are in place first.
HSE will be taking up specialist checks to ensure all measures outlined in this guide are taken. This will be documented to protect both your business and your employees.
Ultimately, it is your responsibility to take meaningful steps, taking time to map-out and introduce thorough and effective measures, which will not just encourage a return to work but will help protect your employees from potential infections. Here at Displaysense, we know that putting safe social distancing measures in place, such as social distancing queue barriers, to protect your customers and staff is your priority. Whether it’s an office environment, or an independent retail store, our range of social distancing and hygiene products, including sneeze guards, hand sanitiser stands, and floor sticker signs will help you implement your plan of action.