How to Create a COVID-19 Secure Workplace
Updated: Aug 13
Without a shadow of a doubt easing restricting and bringing in a little normality after the Coronavirus pandemic is one of the toughest challenges a business will ever have to face.
It is not just a challenge for employers, but also for employees and customers alike as we all have to begin to adapt to a new ‘normal’ way of life. There are a multitude of safety challenges as well as workforce obstacles that everyone will be facing and we want to make this transition into the new world of business a little smoother for you.
What will need to be implemented to keep your business compliant will be subject to what type of business you have, however this guide will give you that push you need to get back on your feet and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Risk assessment (for staff, customers)
The first step for all business, no matter how big or small, is to ensure your current workplace policies are ‘COVID secure’. This includes filling out a risk assessment, provided by the government and also adapting your current policies, focusing highly on your ‘infection control policy’.
Covid-19 is a biological hazard and should therefore be treated as such. Appropriate measures will need to be established to make sure the risk of any individual entering your place of work is at a low risk of catching the virus. However, dealing with an airborne hazard is harder than simply moving a faulty piece of equipment, instead, this hazard simply cannot be removed, but you can significantly reduce its presence on surfaces and passing from one individual to another.
Based on the government guidelines, you should be asking the following questions when carrying out your workplace risk assessment:
How will you ensure the 2 metre social distancing measures between customers and staff?
Are visors needed in customer facing areas?
How can you better organise seating areas to maintain distance between households?
How are you going to ensure the track and trace protocols are properly put into place?
How will you ensure that testing is taking place frequently?
Are hand washing stations running and available to all as well as correctly implemented hand sanitation?
Have you put in provisions for office, delivery and eating areas?
Is there an effective plan in place for dealing with someone with suspected symptoms?
Are there education pieces on display, including how to correctly sanitise, keep distance and wear facial coverings where necessary?
How are you monitoring the health of your staff?
Are disposable tissues available?
How and when will areas be sanitised? How frequently will this happen?
What PPE is necessary (if any) outlined for both staff and customers?
How are contractors and visitors being dealt with?
With the government slowly easing lockdown restrictions in the hope they will push people to return to work, HSE (Health and Safety Executive) are reminding employees that they can report any genuine concern for hygiene in their work place should they feel that their place of work is not following guidelines thoroughly.
What does COVID secure mean?
Through conducting your risk assessment, if you have found that there are people in your work force that cannot work from home, then you should begin to make changes for those staff to return safely. This will be applicable to a range of different businesses from machine operators to front of house staff.
You can do this in a variety of different ways such as:
Where possible you should try and retain 2 metres from person to person, however, if this is not viable, you should aim to keep 1 meter with risk mitigation. =
Most effective ways you can do this is by:
Tape on the floor - this will help psychologically imprint staff and customers to how wide the 2 meter gap is and allow them to retain it without having to think about it. This is a cheap and highly effective method that is becoming increasingly popular with work forces.
Social distancing wearable technology - the wearable technology is available in many forms, such as a bracelet or lanyard and is easy to use and implement. It works by monitoring the distance between staff (essentially the distance between the technology that is worn by staff) and if the 2 meter or 1 meter rule (which can be adapted depending on your requirements) is breached, a buzzer will go off and inform the staff they are too close. This technology is highly accurate and will ensure staff are keeping their distance. This is a service provided by Contrac FM and more information can be found here.
Visors - visors should be present at every client facing desk, reception or till. Perspect is amongst the most popular choice of material when it comes to visors, it’s cheap, sturdy and stops the transmission of the virus between two individuals.
Limiting movement and a one way system - unlike before, going to the kitchen or the WC was a free for all, but a great way of reducing the risk of infection can be to create a ‘one way’ system around your office to reduce the risk of people crossing paths and therefore not being able to maintain the social distancing rules.
Cleaning and hygiene
The coronavirus can transfer from a person onto a surface and live on that surface for a maximum of 48 hours. If that surface is not cleaned within that time, the virus could spread to a limitless amount of people, unlike a normal virus that can spread to 1-3 people, coronavirus can be spread to anyone to whom it may come into contact with.
Way to reduce this spread are:
THOR UVC cleaning technology - this technology will greatly reduce the chances of the Covid-19 virus being left on surfaces. Infact, this technology is so powerful and precise that it kills 99.99999% of the virus in a matter of seconds, working in the deepest corners and on the highest shelves of your work space. Whilst manual cleaning is still a necessary step, this technology will pick up the traces left behind and ensure the safest working environment for staff and customers alike. This is a service provided by Contrac FM and more information can be found here.
Clean equipment frequently - this should be implemented in every aspect of your workplace and after every use. Using cleaning chemicals with a high percentage of alcohol is the best way to diminish the virus. Using a new or sterilized cloth is also a good way to prevent the spread.
Hand sanitation - the hand sanitizer used should contain a high alcohol content to reduce the spread of the virus. These sanitizing stations should be situated on every entrance and exit as well as in and around your place of work. This highly reduces the virus from entering and being spread around.
PPE (personal protective equipment)
Employers must ensure they are protecting their staff against injury or harm which could occur in the workplace, this rule therefore applies when it comes to protecting staff against the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
There are varying rules around PPE and the workplace which will depend on the type of business you have, all of these guidelines can be found on the HSE website.
Ensuring regular testing to rule out potential covid victims
By law, employers must test their staff, in the workplace, to rule out any potential cases of Covid-19. This is best done by using a contactless thermometer to check the temperature of staff. A high temperature is one of the most common symptoms of the virus.
Contactless thermometer - you can use this to test one individual at a time, it is a cheap method and you can get your hands on a contactless thermometer for as little as £30-£40.
Thermal Imaging Cameras - highly accurate and is best for work environments that want to test their staff in one go. The thermal imaging can spot anyone in a room with a high temperature and allows you to conduct this testing whilst keeping a 2 metre distance. It is highly accurate, leaving next to no room for mistakes. This is a service provided by Contrac FM and more information can be found on our site.
Protecting vulnerable workers
As an employer you should make sure there are procedures in place to protect those who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus. Identifying these vulnerable staff is key to implementing an effective covid safe working environment. Higher risk groups can include but are not limited to:
Those with a high body mass index (BMI)
Those with health conditions such as diabetes
Black, Asian or minority ethnicity (BAME) backgrounds
As an employer you can support these groups of individuals by:
Making sure controls are applied inflexibly.
They have a health and safety member of staff they can go to to discuss any concerns they may have.
Making sure each vulnerable person has been individually spoken to regarding what you have done to keep those and others safe whilst at work.
Although going back to a normal workplace seems like it will never happen for most, by following this guide you are helping everyone get back on track in the safest way possible. A thorough risk assessment, up-to-date policies and a new ‘infection control guide’ will help you stay compliant and guarantee a safer environment for all.