Speedel's guide to creating a Covid-secure workplace
As the UK cautiously lifts lockdown measures, businesses across the UK are starting to welcome back employees to the workplace. Under current government guidance, businesses can only open their doors if they are able to provide a “covid secure” workplace.
Speedel, a Leicestershire-based courier company involved in delivering safety equipment and PPE across the UK, has issued a handy checklist for making your workplace covid-secure. Shiraz Sidat, Operations Manager at Speedel said “We are working with many businesses right now who are trying their best to make the workplace as safe as possible. The term covid-secure is quite daunting, so we pulled together a handy checklist for our clients and others in the business world”.
Carry out a risk assessment As a responsible employer, you have a duty to protect employees from harm. This includes taking all reasonable steps to help protect workers and others from contracting and spreading coronavirus. Carry out a risk assessment before bringing staff back into the workplace.
- Identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus.
- Think about who in your workforce might be most at risk.
- Decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed.
- Act to remove or mitigate a potentially risky activity or situation.
- Create an action plan in the event a member of staff tests positive for coronavirus in the coming weeks and months. This could include communicating the news with your staff, swift deep cleaning, and helping with tracing those people the employee may have come into contact with.
Have a conversation with your workers It’s best to have a frank and open discussion with your employees sooner rather than later. They will have their own concerns about returning to work and anxiety levels will likely vary from person to person. Consider how you will communicate your new safety measures to those who don’t have English as their first language or those with special needs. Don’t forget to invite your workers to discuss any concerns with you privately.
Who should return first? A phased return may be the best approach to life after coronavirus. You should consider the following:
- Think about how your work is carried out and consider whether any jobs can be modified to reduce risk.
- Identify anyone in your business that can continue to work from home, or attend your premises less than normal.
- Ensure any staff working from home have all the necessary resources to do their job effectively including mobile phones, laptops and video conferencing software.
- Discuss staff wellbeing and keep in touch with your employees to make sure they stay productive and feel a valued part of the workforce.
- Where it is not possible to work from home, the guidance on social distancing and hand hygiene must be followed.
- Work out the minimum number of people needed to do each task safely.
Dealing with high risk employees You may have clinically vulnerable workers who have been shielding in recent weeks. Some may have been told to continue shielding or may feel that they cannot return to the workplace. Consider the following.
- Identify those who are clinically vulnerable who may need to work from home.
- Identify those who live with a clinically vulnerable person and may need to also continue working from home.
- Where an existing role does not allow a vulnerable person to work from home, consider changing or adapting their job role to make this possible.
Getting to work It’s important to consider the logistical elements of getting to work and going home. You’ll need to consider:
- How people are getting to work. They should be traveling alone in their own transport. Alternatively, they could walk or cycle if safe and reasonable to do so.
- Stagger arrival and departure times so entry and exit doors are not congested.
- Hand washing facilities should be available to use when staff arrive at work and again before they go home. Alternatively, hand sanitiser stations should be readily available.
- Plan common areas and coat rooms accordingly to maintain social distancing.
Work area Making your work area as safe as possible is vital. You’ll need to balance productivity with safety and hygiene measures. The current advice dictates a two-metre distance, although this seems to be under constant review. Keep an eye out for future government updates that may reduce this distance.
- Keeping people 2 metres apart is extremely important when considering your work area. Use floor paint, tape or physical signage throughout the workplace to remind employees and help them to keep their distance. It’s also important to avoid face-to-face or side-by-side working where you can.
- Where you cannot keep a 2 metre distance, consider assigning only one person per work area. Alternatively set up a cohort, so the same people are working in the same teams to limit additional social interaction.
- Screens can be used to create a physical barrier between staff.
- Consider a rota to clean high-touch surfaces where contamination could occur.
- Set up an equipment cleaning programme, particularly between shift changes.
- Provide hand sanitiser stations if hand washing cannot be carried out.
Moving around the workplace Think about how people usually travel through your workplace. Ensure only the most essential trips are made within buildings and promote social distancing as much as physically possible.
- Restrict the amount that people rotate between tasks or equipment.
- Limit the use of lifts and the number of people using them.
- Limit the use of work vehicles to prevent any cross contamination.
- Mark areas on the floor using tape or paint, reminding staff of the 2 metre distance. You could also add temporary pedestrian walkways or implement one way systems.
Managing common areas Canteens, showers and toilets all require special attention in light of the pandemic.
- Move chairs and arrange common rooms to enforce a 2 metre distance.
- Stagger break times so people are not using common rooms at the same time.
- Create additional spaces for break times if staggering isn’t possible.
- Clean surfaces frequently and identify objects, door handles and anything else likely to be touched by staff on a regular basis.
- Establish clear guidance on the use of showers, toilets, and common areas.
Providing PPE The government has issued guidance about who needs PPE in the workplace. However, employers can take their own decision as to whether to privately source PPE for workers. Masks, face shields, gloves and aprons are all widely used in a number of professions, particularly where a 2 metre distance cannot be maintained. If you do decide to provide PPE, it should be *
- Correctly fitted.
- Located close to the point of use.
- Stored correctly to prevent contamination in a clean area. It should also be used by the expiration date.
- Disposed of after use in the correct waste bin.