While many firms have already reopened under new circumstances, others – particularly those that offer remote working – have yet to do so. So, what are the requirements for making your workplace COVID-safe? Some may have staggered start and finish times to prevent an influx of people entering and exiting the building at one time, others may be considering putting up new modular buildings to increase the workspace available and allow for social distancing.
Though the particular procedures necessary will differ based on your industry and the kind of activities you engage in, there are some universally applicable principles.
Have You Assessed The Risks?
It is critical that you conduct an appropriate and sufficient risk assessment. A COVID-19 risk assessment should be used to determine which control measures should be implemented in your organization.
Under the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999, risk assessment is a legal duty, and while you won’t be able to totally eradicate the hazards posed by COVID-19, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate the efforts you’re taking to keep people safe.
Plan For A COVID Outbreak
Make sure you have a clear procedure in place for dealing with employees who become symptomatic while at work, such as sending them home to self-isolate in accordance with stay-at-home instructions, cleaning and disinfecting any potentially contaminated surfaces, and encouraging employees to get tested.
Using internal newsletters and intranets, emails, and signs, do everything you can to reinforce your emergency plans and public health messaging to staff.
Think About Those Who Are More Vulnerable
While the most vulnerable have now mostly been fully vaccinated, they still may be at more risk than the general population.
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to risk management. Those who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and its consequences, such as pregnant personnel and those with other underlying health issues, must be identified.
Make sure your organisation protects those at higher risk. Ascertain that all reasonably possible procedures have been taken to reassure and support clinically severely vulnerable workers returning to work.
Carry On With Remote Working Where Possible
Wherever feasible, homework is still encouraged. Consider the following if employees continue to work from home:
- Is there anything further that needs to be done to ensure that homeworkers may work securely and comfortably?
- Establishing communication channels and evaluating how effectively they are functioning so that the employee does not get isolated.
- Is it necessary to keep a closer eye on mental health and well-being?
Communicate With Your Employees
COVID-19 has had an influence on everyone in some way, and though things appear to be returning to some sense of normalcy, the risk of infection remains high. Many people will still be concerned about their own health or the possibility of spreading the infection to their loved ones.
Employees should be informed about the actions taken to protect them at work, and they should be included in the process by consulting with them. Employees may have opinions on how to work safely; after all, they will have firsthand knowledge of processes and potential hazards.