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Due to restrictions easing in some areas across the world, more businesses in England are starting to make preparations for reopening. This gradual shift towards a type of normalcy may not be smooth sailing. Particularly in current times, many local lockdowns are taking place to help reduce the spread of the virus. Constant changes like this may be unsettling.
A business will need to adjust and adapt to the changes to keep up the best way they can in these unclear times. A sense of the unknown means that businesses are having to reevaluate how its employees can safely return to work.
It is more essential than ever for all businesses and customers to have the right precautions in place to create a safe working environment. Employees on the premises must be kept safe. Therefore, conducting a risk assessment is one of the first steps for a business to identify COVID-19 risks and other aspects. Not only will this identify how to keep workers safe from the virus. But also, to ensure that if any new measures cause other risks to health and safety, that they are properly controlled. A business must plan and execute these processes to safely re-open. Some activities you might need to consider as part of this business plan are as follows:
All employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees. The health of employees is a critical component for long term business success. Industrial hygiene is one of high importance for a business to anticipate, evaluate, and control any new or potential issues that they could face. From hazardous/ biohazardous material handling to the implementation of cleaning schedules for staff. A business must identify areas of the business which are of high contact that will need to be cleaned more often throughout the day.
Every workplace environment will have to increase its cleaning, handwashing, and hygiene procedures. Busy areas such as communal areas, waiting rooms, or toilets need to be cleaned more frequently and thoroughly with appropriate cleaning materials. Handwashing continues to be essential in preventing the spread of the virus. This should be encouraged amongst all those on the premises. Installation of extra handwashing and sanitiser stations, especially when entering and leaving the premises, will be needed to enforce a safe space. Helping to keep the health and safety of their employees to a high standard. Having a COVID-secure workplace will reassure employees that it is safe for them to return to work.
Employers should encourage working from home where possible. Ensuring that staff have everything they need to be able to work safely. However, other considerations need to be taken into account as working from home can cause employees to feel isolated. This could lead to demotivation and less in-person support and moral. Employers are responsible for taking steps to help an employee's mental health and wellbeing when in a home working environment.
Working from home means that the risk of COVID-19 exposure is minimalised greatly. For some employees, the anxiety of using public transport and commuting to the workplace, can also take a mental toll on their health and wellbeing. Yet from a business perspective, this could cause a slight decrease in productivity and a potential for quality issues in the long run. Acknowledging that hazard recognition, ergonomics, and communication are necessary for the transition to be lessened.
PPE (personal protective equipment) protects the user against health and safety risks at work. It can include items such as; safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high visibility clothing, safety footwear, and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment, such as face masks. A business already using PPE in their work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, should continue.
Additional measures may also need to be considered including: social distancing, face masks, and even gloves, depending on the task undertaken.
Employers and employees must be refreshed on health requirements. Offices will need to have a layout design for social distancing. Potential illness reporting procedures, like a sick family member, will need to be enforced to staff. Employee illness screening will need to be required as workplaces re-open. If employees report feeling ill at work, or who call in sick, employers may ask questions about symptoms through means of a phone call, checklist, or questionnaire. This will help to determine the risk factors. Temperature checks may be asked to determine if there is a chance that the employee has COVID-19 without the symptoms. Test and trace measures should also be highly encouraged where symptoms are exposed.
For many employees, the transition from home to the office needs to be carefully managed. As it may be difficult. It is best to try and avoid any generic or boring CBT (competency-based training) when refreshing employees on safety. But it is vital to ensure they are aware of any new safety measures introduced into the workplace to minimise COVID infections. This may include; hazard recognition, health requirements, PPE, and hazard communication, to keep themselves and others as safe as possible in their work environment.
It is now essential for workplaces to conduct a risk assessment that looks at the dangers of COVID-19 and how to mitigate these risks. An assessment will help to identify how to keep workers safe from the virus. As well as ensuring that any new measures that cause other risks to health and safety are properly controlled. As a business, it is paramount to listen to any concern’s employees have and address these to make the workplace as safe and as happy as it can be. Meaning that in the long run, more staff will feel happy to return to work.
Any new results of COVID-19 exposure should be clearly communicated to all workers. Training should be carried out for employees to understand and know how to deal with the risks in their workplace. It is also vital that employers and employees keep up to date and knowledgeable about the continual COVID-19 changes, to make the best decisions for the business.
Existing users of Airsweb AVA can now add the AVA COVID-19 Tracker module to their solution. AVA’s dedicated COVID-19 Tracker module empowers you to instantly identify if any hot-spots start to appear with your most valuable asset – your people.
Implementing effective preventative measures to minimise the spread of COVID, or any other pandemic, is just one of the vital actions a company needs to take. Timely COVID related evidence and investigation can empower you to plan, forecast and prevent further spread.
Our team would love to demonstrate the power of AVA for you in a one-on-one demo. If you would like to learn more then arrange a demo today!
You may also be interested in these AVA modules.