Returning safely to the workplace
Further changes will now be coming into place on 4th July 2020 and will ease the lockdown restrictions further. This will enable the opening of bars, restaurants, hotels, guest accommodation and more.
The government has provided specific guidance on returning to work safely for the following areas:
- Pubs, bars and restaurants.
- The visitor economy such as hotels, guesthouses and indoor and outdoor attractions.
- Close contact services, such as hairdressers.
As we recover from COVID 19 and look to go back to the work place, it is vital we do what we can to return to a safe environment. Consider the following steps and make sure you do what you can to keep your workplace safe and help reduce further impact and absence.
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.
Prepare a safe workplace
On returning to work make sure all your utilities are all safe and operating correctly. If your water system has been static you may need consider the risk of legionella or other water contamination. Check for out of date products, gas concerns, security lighting and any setting or timers.
Organise and clean
You are likely to need to deep clean the premises before it fully opens. Unhygienic surfaces attract germs, vermin and dust. This can be very harmful, triggering dust related illness like asthma or present a serious fire risk. A build-up of certain types of dust can combust especially when temperature, ventilation and usage changes. Take the opportunity to review your cleaning schedule and enhance cleaning practices, like wiping down equipment and tools as well as surfaces.
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.
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
- Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund Guidance.pdf
- COVID19 Business Risk Assessment Template.doc
Got a question about COVID-19?