While the threat of Covid-19 still remains, it can be hard for businesses to adapt as things return to some sort of normality. Not only is it challenging, but it is actually a legal requirement that businesses manage risks to those affected by their business, and that includes the risk of Covid-19.
Businesses must consider that some employees may not feel as comfortable about returning to an office environment as others, so it is important to identify measures that reassure them they are safe. Equally, it is your responsibility as an employer to ensure people are working from a fit and safe environment. If working from home is detrimental to their performance, it may be time to encourage employees back to a controlled and more productive office environment.
However, reintroducing staff and customers into your business means continuing to manage the risk of coronavirus and assuage any concerns people may have upon returning to ‘normal life’. By doing so, you can welcome them back with confidence and support your post-pandemic recovery.
Below, we’ve listed some of the easiest and most effective measures you can continue to implement in your workplace to keep the threat of coronavirus and future lockdowns low.
For a COVID-secure workplace, one of the easiest rules to implement is the continued commitment to hand hygiene. It has been proven to significantly reduce the spread of disease, including Covid-19. As more employees return to offices, it is likely that the flu and common cold will return seasonally. There are many benefits to a healthy workforce, so it is important to positively promote the continued habit of frequent hand washing. The NHS guidance on hand washing recommends that hand washing should take around 20 seconds, the same time as it takes to sing Happy Birthday.
While many of us have been washing our own hands since we could reach the sink, it’s always important to have a refresher over the correct method. The first stage of hand washing is the application of water, followed by soap and a thorough lathering before rinsing. It is then recommended that people use a disposable towel to dry their hands, before turning the tap off using the disposable towel to avoid contact with bacteria.
While it may seem like this is a straightforward procedure, it can be useful to fix signs to the interior walls of where there are sinks to remind people to wash their hands diligently. We’re all guilty of slacking occasionally when we have a lot going on in our heads with a particularly busy day, so sometimes a sign will help people to remind to do the job properly.
While handwashing is an option where there are appropriate facilities, you may want to further strengthen hygiene by placing hand sanitiser stations around the workspace. Hand sanitiser, such as Orbel, offers 99.9% bacteria killing power and, because of the ease of use, encourages hand hygiene compliance. While you can never really guarantee people sing Happy Birthday to themselves while washing their hands, you can be certain that a rub of hand sanitiser prevents the spread of bacteria.
Orbel is particularly efficient as it can be attached to an individual’s belt loop, clothing or handbag and it administers the perfect amount of hand sanitiser with each roll of palm. Having it on person means that when someone comes face to face with a risk, they can instantly kill any bacteria without having to move through more office space and increase the risk further.
Now that you have established that you need to provide hand sanitiser and properly encourage hand hygiene, it would be a good opportunity to assess the layout of your business to determine the areas that are perhaps at higher risk to COVID-19. For example, you may need to provide hand gel at each entrance to your building so that people can sanitise as they enter.
You will also have to manage the risk to visitors, contractors and delivery drivers as they are exposed to your business, which means communicating your policy to them and ensuring they obey. The question you need to continually ask yourself is, am I doing everything I can to eliminate the risk of COVID-19?
By carrying out an extensive risk assessment of all the areas of your business, you will be able to identify potential threats and put in place appropriate measures. This could include encouraging mask wearing in crowded spaces, limiting capacities in specific areas, or utilising shift patterns and home working to minimise the number of people present at one time.
Understanding the risk areas will also help you to tailor existing policies, such as workplace cleaning, by focusing your efforts on those areas (such as communal spaces) where spread is more likely to happen.
Another easy measure to add into your workplace is ventilation. As coronavirus is an airborne disease, introducing ventilation can help particles spread further away, reducing the risk of transmission to your staff and customers.
Utilise fresh air or air conditioning to better ventilate your business space. As we approach the winter months, this is likely to get harder – but it could prove essential in lowering risk.
Finally, it is your legal responsibility to make employees aware that should they come into close contact with someone who has positively tested for COVID-19, then they should isolate and order a PCR test.
A more serious situation would be where a member of staff tests positive in the workplace. In this instance, the employee would need to be aware that this means they will have to isolate. You must not allow them to come into work, or work anywhere other than where they are self-isolating for their full self-isolation period. There is also the risk that those they have been in contact with, such as colleagues, will be pinged and asked to self-isolate – or potentially even catch coronavirus.
Failure to comply with this structure can result in the firm facing a fine which start at around £1,000. You will also end up putting more staff at risk if you delay the process which in the end, will lead to more people having to self-isolate at home.
As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure, and in these circumstances that couldn’t be more accurate. It is so important to have rigorous, tried and tested safety measures in place at your place of work to prevent any of your employees coming into contact with Covid-19.
While you can’t control what they do outside of work, most people do spend five days out of seven in the same environment so if you can make it as safe as possible, you are minimising the risk of isolation, loss of staff and the many costs that come into play when you start going down that route.
It will also ensure your business is prepared if cases are to hit a new peak or another lockdown restricts us, so you can continue to reduce the danger and risk to your business.
If you need support in addressing the continued risk of coronavirus in your workplace, Protecta can support you.
We offer solutions, including hand sanitiser, that can help you limit transmission in your business. Get in touch today to find out more.