Keeping businesses safe
As from 19th July will be in step 4 , businesses will be required to have a Risk Assessment which encompasses COVID-19 to ensure safe working practices.
You find out more guidance in how to produce this with the Restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance from Step 4 - Guidance - GOV.UK.
If you would like Environmental Health to review and give guidance in regards to Risk Assessment, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org adding number workers for the business, type of business and any other relevant information into the body of the email.
Managing reports of cases in your business
It may be worrying to receive notification of cases in your staff or customers, but it may not be a necessity for you to close. You can carry out a Risk Assessment with who they have been in contact with and what activities have been undertaken.
You can find more information on our 'Managing COVID-19 cases at your workplace' webpage.
As the lockdown in England ends, The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published guidance available for businesses to ensure employees are working safely as they re-open.
Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
Before restarting work you should ensure the safety of the workplace by:
- carrying out a risk assessment (.doc)
- consulting with your workers
- sharing the results of the risk assessment with your workforce
Employers should also display a notice visibly in their shop windows or outside their store to show their employees, customers and other visitors that they have followed the government guidance and undertaken a COVID-19 risk assessment.
As Part of your risk assessment consider implementing the wearing of face coverings by staff that come into close contact with members of the public or where they can not stay socially distanced. For further advice see the Government's website.
Ask your customers to wear face coverings by having polite request in notices near your customer entrances.
This is especially important if your customers are likely to be around people they do not normally meet. Some exemptions apply. Check when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.
Look after your workforce
It is important you know if everyone is mentally and physically fit to return to work. They may have or know someone who has been seriously affected by COVID 19.Their mental or financial health could be suffering following the lockdown and may need time to adapt to the return.
Skills and tasks may take time to return and there could be a period of adjustment. The speed and use of tools and equipment like the use of sharps, forklifts and manual handling tasks will initially have an increased risk.
Look forward and prevent
Reducing the risk from touching points like installing foot pedal bins, automatic doors and lights will help lower cross infections .Reminding employees of good hygiene protocols and introducing sanitising stations at high unavoidable areas like entry points (lifts) or shared workspaces will also help reduce the risk. Look to improve distancing between workstations or alternative working arrangements.
The Importance of Ventilation in Busy Indoor Areas
As an employer, you must protect people from harm. This includes doing a risk assessment to decide what reasonable steps you need to take to protect your workers and others from coronavirus (COVID-19). One of the key things to focus on is ventilation and how to maximise it.
Good ventilation in enclosed areas of a workplace has always been a legal requirement under Health and Safety Law, by maximising ventilation in these areas you will reduce the amount of COVID-19 particles that build up in a room, thus reducing risk of transmission to customers and staff.
You should identify poorly ventilated areas in the business and prioritise improving the ventilation in these areas to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
How to identify poorly ventilated areas
- Look for areas where people work and where there is no?mechanical ventilation?or?natural ventilation?such as open windows, doors, or vents;
- Check that mechanical systems provide outdoor air, temperature control, or both. If a system only?recirculates air and has no outdoor air supply, the area is likely to be poorly ventilated;
- Identify areas that feel stuffy or smell bad; and
- Using carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors
Using carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors
People exhale carbon dioxide (CO2) when they breathe out. If there is a build-up of CO2 in an area it can indicate that ventilation needs improving.
The amount of CO2 in the air is measured in parts per million (ppm). You should take action to improve ventilation where CO2 readings are consistently higher than 1500ppm in indoor areas. A consistent CO2 level of less than 800ppm is likely to indicate that a space is well ventilated.
How to improve ventilation
- You can improve natural ventilation by fully or partly opening windows, air vents and doors. Don't prop fire doors open.
- Purging (airing rooms) as frequently as you can improves ventilation. Opening all the doors and windows maximises ventilation in a room. It may be better to do this when the room is unoccupied.
- Talking to your workers about improving ventilation. Making sure that an area has enough fresh air relies on your workers playing their part.
- Mechanical ventilation systems will provide adequate ventilation if they are set to maximise fresh air and minimise recirculation. If your system draws in fresh air, it can continue to operate. You may need to increase the rate or supplement it with natural ventilation (for example, by opening doors, windows or air vents) where possible. You could also consider extending the operating times of mechanical ventilation systems to before and after people use work areas.
Air cleaning and filtration units
You can use local air cleaning and filtration units to reduce airborne transmission of aerosols where it is not possible to maintain adequate ventilation. These units are not a substitute for ventilation. You should prioritise any areas identified as poorly ventilated for improvement in other ways before you think about using an air cleaning device.
If you decide to use an air cleaning unit, the most suitable types to use are:
- high-efficiency filters
- ultraviolet-based devices
Any unit should be appropriate for the size of the area it's used in to ensure it works in the way it's intended to.
Manage and maintain your equipment
It is important any equipment you use can be relied on when you return to work. Check initial procedures, manufactures information and industry guidance. This will help you make sure your equipment is safe and ready to use. Electrical equipment, mechanical parts, seals, lubricants and batteries can all deteriorate when not in use.
Statutory requirements should (if safe to do so) not been affected by the lockdown but check. Service level agreements may have lapsed and hazards like pressure systems (Barista) lifting equipment (hoists/FLT's) gas installation and fire detection may pose an increased risk. Safely test your equipment with a pre-use inspection before its needed. Contact Environmental Health for more advice: email@example.com.
For further information on working safely please refer to the appropriate government guidance and the British Standard Institute's guidance on safe working in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Help and support for businesses