While those who can work from home are still being advised to do so, the government is releasing guidance for those who need to return to the workplace. Those who are unable to work from home and being encouraged to go to work, however there are various safety measures to follow to ensure this is achieved as safely as possible.
It is clear that reopening businesses will not be a quick and straightforward process. However, the Government has published a recovery strategy which aims to act as a roadmap to help us return to normal life, with safe ‘COVID secure’ workplaces at its core. The plans relate to various sectors in England, while the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland are still following their own lockdown rules.
5 steps towards working safely
There is guidance available for various sectors, so each workplace may have its own specific steps to follow towards creating a safe working environment. However, the actions in each guide are based on the following practical steps to achieve safe working:
- A COVID-19 risk assessment – HSE has issued guidance for a completing a workplace risk assessment, which should also be combined with feedback from your workers and trade unions. The risk assessment should be shared with the workforce and should be added to the company website.
- Cleaning, hand washing and hygiene procedures – The frequency of surface cleaning and hand washing should be increased, by providing additional hand sanitiser and increased disinfection of busy areas. There should be clear guidance issued for toilet use and paper towels or electrical dryers should be provided.
- Assistance with home working – Reasonable steps should be taken to assist people to work from home, in terms of their mental and physical wellbeing. This includes ensuring remote access is available, the necessary equipment is provided, and they are included in all required communications.
- Maintain social distancing where possible – Wherever possible, staff should remain 2m apart. This means no shared workspaces, clear floor markers, one-way traffic and visitors only entering the workplace by appointment only.
- Management of transmission risk – Where it is not possible to maintain social distancing, practical steps must be taken to manage the transmission risk. For example, consider the urgency of any business activity, keep conversations as short as possible, implement back-to-back or side-to-side working and create small fixed working teams.
A carefully planned reopening
It is likely that many businesses will implement a staged return to the workplace, which should be based on employee health and wellbeing. It is likely that many workers will be anxious about returning to work, so it is important that businesses minimise risks and provide support wherever possible.
By gradually bringing employees back into the workplace, health and safety measures can be tested in small numbers before more of the workforce is back. If an employee is able to work from home, look into ways to facilitate this for longer. Alternatively, if the role is not currently essential to operations, could the Government Job Retention Scheme be extended? It is vital that businesses maintain a clear dialogue with their employees and flexibility will be required to ensure difficulties can be overcome.
As restrictions begin to ease it is understandable that many businesses are eager to reopen and return to normal, however the focus should be on working safely, flexibly and collaboratively. Many businesses have the opportunity now to rebuild their business for a new generation, with benefits to organisations, individual workers and society in general.
Despite the economic reawakening many businesses are still struggling, however financial support is available in a variety of forms. Here at BusinessComparison we can help you compare everything from loans to finance options, so that your business has the tools required to reopen. To find out more, please contact our team today.