April 23 2020 0Comment

COVID-19 – Can I Continue to Operate During Lockdown?

The spread of COVID-19 has affected employers and businesses across the country. While working from home has slowly become a norm in some industries, those who cannot work remotely are not sure how they should address the situation.

The UK Government is urging all businesses to facilitate working from home for their employees.  But what about those businesses that cannot function remotely?

Where home working is not possible, the UK government have provided guidance to assist employers and their employees to return to work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Download our free ‘COVID-19 Health and Safety Risk Assessment’ – CLICK HERE

Good Practices for Employers

As the country fights to curb the spread of the virus, employers and business owners should:

  • regularly update employees on the actions they are taking to reduce the risk of exposure of COVID-19 in the workplace;
  • support employees who are vulnerable and need to be shielded during the pandemic to work from home;
  • provide guidance and advice to employees who are in vulnerable groups on following social distancing guidance;
  • provide tissues and hand sanitizers for your staff, and always encourage them to use them;
  • set up places to wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and running water, and encourage everyone in the organization to do so regularly;
  • increase the frequency of cleaning procedures and pausing work to allow cleaning staff to disinfect workstations;
  • make sure that your managers know the symptom of COVID-19 and how to spot them, and the relevant processes to follow. This includes sick pay and sickness reporting, and the procedure to follow if someone in the workplace appears infected; and
  • update the emergency contact and contact numbers for everyone in the organization.

Social Distancing Principles

Social distancing is an important element in reducing the spread of COVID-19. It involves reducing daily contact with other people as much as possible. For workplaces and businesses where employees cannot work from home, the UK government recommends:

  • regular announcements to remind the staff and customers to wash their hands regularly and follow social distancing;
  • provision of additional pop-up hand-washing facilities and stations in the workplace whenever possible;
  • providing water, soap, tissues, and hand sanitizer, and encouraging everyone to use them;
  • encouraging the use of remote and digital transfer of materials if possible, instead of paper format;
  • using floor markings to mark and encourage people to remain 2 metres apart;
  • where it is impossible to remain 2 metres apart, employees should work side by side or face away from each, avoid face to face as much as possible;
  • keep your teams as small as possible when working together (cohorting);
  • Stagger break times so that employees can continue to practice social distancing during breaks;
  • regulate the entry of your customers to prevent overcrowding in the premises;
  • where face-to-face is essential in running the business, it should be kept to 15 minutes or less; and
  • place Plexiglas barriers at regular interactions points, if possible, to provide additional protection to staff and customers.

Shift Work and Staggering Processes

Shift work and staggering processes will enable employees to continue operating effectively and safely. Some of the things to consider include:

  • splitting employees into teams across a day and night shifts, or alternate days working from home;
  • once the teams are split and cohorting is necessary, contact should remain only between the same individuals;
  • spread out standard processes in such a way that only one team needs to be on the premises to at any given time;
  • use signage like floor markings to facilitate compliance to the 2 meters social distancing discipline and put reminders on the toilets, buildings, and communal break areas; and
  • ensure that high touch surfaces and objects are regularly cleaned and disinfected.

Staying at Home

The importance of staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be overlooked.

However, with clear planning, a robust health and safety risk assessment and good communication with management and employees, it is possible to continue operations in a safe and sufficient manner.

We’ve put together a risk assessment for COVID-19 based on guidance from leading health authorities. Download it completely free – CLICK HERE