How to keep workplaces safe as Covid-19 restrictions relax
18 October 2021
Planning the return to work as Covid-19 rules relax? Industar discusses what measures you should put in place, such as a phased return to work and one way systems.
OVER THE past year, many of us have worked from home or been furloughed from our pre-Covid jobs. The work from home guidance has ended, and a lot of us are now going into the workplace! Employers need to take hygiene seriously. Keeping staff and employees safe is crucial; to keep people healthy and help with anxious emotions people could be feeling.
Workplaces are legally required to put safety measures into place to manage the risk. The government has produced some guides about returning to work. There are guides tailored to different workspaces, whether an office or a warehouse. This is because one size does not fit all! Workplaces will need to take different approaches. This article will outline some of the main things employers need to do to keep workplaces and employees safe as restrictions relax.
How to make your workplace Covid-19 secure
Planning the return to the workplace
Employers need to talk to staff about the return to work after COVID-19. Keep your team updated and informed of the plans, any changes should be discussed. You should let every member of staff have a voice in how the company should handle the return. This will be a very anxious time for a lot of people, here are some of the main things to talk about with your staff.
- When the workplace will open
- When staff can expect to return to the workplace
- If there will be a phased return to work, will some staff remain working at home?
- The safety measures to be put into place
- What the future of the workplace may look like
Carry out a risk assessment
It is a legal requirement for workplaces to complete a Covid-19 appropriate risk assessment before the return to work. You will need to follow the usual steps of a risk assessment, but this will need to be tailored to avoid Covid-19 risks. The importance of a risk assessment is to identify risks and outline what you will do to minimise these risks as much as possible. Here are some of the main Covid-19 appropriate measures to be considered:
Administrative control measures
This includes keeping equipment clean, changing the way tasks are completed and providing training to inform staff about Covid-19 safety measures. This also includes planning a phased return to work or monitoring who is in the building at what time.
Personal Protective Equipment
This is most effective if it is used correctly. PPE includes gloves, masks, and visors. You need to make sure the equipment is high-quality, or it may not work effectively.
Share your risk assessment
Employers need to share risk assessments with their staff. All employers over 50 employers are expected to share their risk assessment on their website. Sharing your assessment ensures that your staff feel safe and comfortable about the return to work. This also gives staff the chance to share their feelings about the return to work.
Decide who should return to the workplace
People who are high risk might not feel comfortable returning to work, so consider allowing them to work from home a bit longer. A phased return to work is a gradual process. An excellent way to do this is to enable essential staff back to work, and then everybody else later. For workplaces where staff work in confined spaces, a phased return to work is essential.
Also, if a staff member wishes to remain working from home sometimes and get work done, consider letting them know if this is possible. 72% of people surveyed said they want to continue working from home because they get to spend more time with family and have a better work-life balance.
Put Covid-19 safety measures to put into place
Staying two metres apart can reduce the risk of airborne transmission of the COVID-19 virus. If there are essential tasks at your workplace where this distancing isn't possible, PPE needs to be used. Make sure PPE is always available when and where needed.
Keep surfaces clean
Work surfaces, kitchen worktops, desks, every single surface news to be sanitised to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
Did you know that Covid-19 can also be spread through dust particles? Studies have confirmed this, so it is crucial to keep your workplace dust free. You need to ensure you have a site vacuum. Industrial vacuum cleaners are more effective than high street vacuums, so investing in this can help stop the spread of Covid-19 in your workplace through dust particles.
You need to ensure you are using a hand sanitiser with at least a 60% alcohol content, as these are the most effective at killing the virus. Place hand a hand sanitiser station at all high-traffic areas. Make sure the stations are easily accessible. Consider hand sanitising stations here:
- Dining Areas
Put signs up
Signs are a great way to remind people to social distance, point out sanitising stations, and remind them about the use of masks. You can also use signs to set up one way systems and mark out 2 metres distance for social distancing.
Ask staff to wear masks
Some people are exempt from wearing masks due to health/personal reasons, and you can not force people to wear them. But for people who can wear them, encourage this. Masks are crucial when dealing with customers or a high volume of staff. Masks are not effective if not worn correctly; make sure all of your team know how to use them. They should always cover the nose and mouth.
Returning to work as COVID-19 rules relax is a highly anxious time for many of us, so take time to listen to any concerns your staff may have. Also, remind them of the safety measures in place and support their needs.
Invest in good quality cleaning equipment
Many people don't realise COVID-19 can be spread through dust particles, so many workplaces focus on sanitising stations but forget to keep on top of the vacuuming at work. At Industar, we have a wide range of industrial vacuums for dust; contact Industar to find out more. Stay safe!