On March 23rd 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a nation-wide lockdown in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Since then, life as we know it has been completely flipped upside down, with many people not able to leave their home, see friends and family or go to work, leaving businesses in extremely difficult positions. With their doors temporarily closed to minimise the spread of the virus between members of staff and customers, businesses were left in the cold as to when they would be able to open again.
Fast forward a couple of months and many businesses have started to open their doors to the public, bringing some degree of normality back into people's lives. However, in order to do so, these businesses are required to carry out a risk assessment to examine the possible dangers associated with the spread of COVID-19 and put steps into place that manage and minimise these dangers. To support employers in creating a COVID-secure workplace, the government has published several guides on safe working during the coronavirus pandemic, each designed for a specific area of work. It is vital that employers try their very best to follow these guides as close as possible, as to keep their employees and customers safe during working hours as well as following the law. Boris Johnson announced that the HSE will be performing spot inspections to ensure all employers are keeping their employees safe.
So, what exactly is a COVID-secure workplace and how can you create one? Read on to find out!
What is a COVID-Secure Workplace?
In short, a COVID-secure workplace is any workplace that has implemented sufficient measures that minimise and prevents the risks of catching and spreading of coronavirus. Unfortunately, as long as the coronavirus pandemic lasts, every workplace in the country will face the risk of COVID-19 being transmitted among staff and customers. However, by creating a COVID-secure workplace, you will be making your work environment as safe as possible for all those who are returning to work as well as customers and visitors.
Creating a COVID-Secure Workplace
The government guidelines mentioned above outline several steps that employers need to take to ensure their workplace remains safe. The steps you take to manage the risks of transmission will depend on your specific area of work, but most can be applied to all. Here we take a look at these.
Conducting a risk assessment
The government announced that all employers must perform a COVID-19 risk assessment before asking members of staff to return to work. This includes the same steps as a regular risk assessment; identifying potential hazards, evaluating risks and taking preventative action but this assessment will concentrate solely on the risks associated with coronavirus transmission. Employers will need to take into account which members of staff will be returning to work and which tasks will need to be carried out while on-site. Things that may need to be considered include a phased return to work and offering a reduced service.
The results of your risk assessment should be used to minimise risk to the lowest possible levels by identifying and implementing sufficient control measures, some of which have been outlined by The Institution of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH). Here they explain that while elimination and substitution are often the most effective forms of risk mitigation, it's not feasible or possible to eliminate or substitute risk completely. As a result, there are several types of control measures that you can put into place:
- Engineered Control Measures - These are the most effective control measures, whereby physical changes to the workplace are made. These include installing physical barriers such as screens between people to keep them safe.
- Administrative Control Measures - These actions include changing workplace activities and tasks, keeping the environment and equipment clean and potentially redesigning the workplace. This could involve measures such as social distancing, increased hygiene practices, signage and limiting the number of people allowed on-site at any one time.
- PPE - Protection equipment such as masks and gloves are the least effective form of risk mitigation against the coronavirus. Therefore it should be the very last resort for all employers.
Sharing your results
Once you have identified the actions you need to take to mitigate the risks of transmission, you will need to record and write up your findings so that you can share this information easily with your staff. If your business has over 50 employees, you will be expected to share your results on your website also. In doing so, businesses are likely to make their workforce feel safer, encouraging them to take an active role in managing the risks of transmission.
Maintaining social distancing
Social distancing plays a vital role in the government's plans to get the workforce back into work by drastically reducing the risk of airborne transmission of the virus. There are several ways in which businesses can encourage social distancing on-site, which include laying down markers, limiting the number of customers and employees that are allowed on-site and placing signage up that reminds people to maintain a safe distance from one another.
If there are certain work activities that can't be completed while social distancing, employers will need to review whether these are vital. If they are, then considerations need to be made on how to make these activities as safe as possible, with PPE may be having to be used by all individuals involved.
Deciding on returning staff
When it comes to deciding which members of staff should return to work, employers need to make this a gradual process to ensure the measures that they have put into place can be as effective as possible. Initially, only essential staff should be encouraged to return to work, any employees that can work from home should continue to do so. Phasing the return to work is particularly important for workplaces that require staff to work in smaller, confined spaces.
In addition to staff members, employers also need to consider customers and visitors that come to their workplace. These should also be made aware of any new measures that are put into place to limit the potential transmission of the virus.
Implementing additional hygiene measures
There has never been a time where hygiene in the workplace has been more important. The frequency of surface cleaning, handwashing and sanitising should be increased as well as the encouragement of staff to wear masks whenever possible. Another important thing that needs to be considered by employers is waste. If members of staff use disposable PPE such as masks and gloves or tissues, these need to be disposed of into closed bins and discarded hygienically.
Employers can encourage staff to carry out additional hygiene measures by hanging up posters, calling meetings and running training sessions to promote high standards of hygiene around the workplace.
These are just some of the standard measures that you can put into place to ensure the safety of your employees. However, it is very important to consider the safety measure and advice that pertain to your specific industry.
How IDS Security Can Help Your Workplace Become COVID-Secure
Here at IDS Security, we're striving to make the transition back into work for employers as easy and safe as possible. As a result, we now offer two fantastic and effective services that can keep your workplace safe, minimising the risks of transmitting coronavirus. These are thermal imaging cameras, which measure your employee's temperature. An important indicator when monitoring if an individual is infected with COVID-19. And density control cameras, which help to count the number of individuals on your premises at any one time, also another important factor when trying to manage safe distancing between staff, customers and visitors to your site. You can find out more information on our two brand-new services by clicking below.
Thermal Imaging Cameras > Density Control Cameras >
By following the above guidelines, as well as implementing industry-specific measures in combination with services from IDS Security, you will be well on your way to ensuring your workplace is COVID-secure and your staff members, customers and visitors are kept as safe as possible from coronavirus.
If you would like to know more about how we can help you, be sure to get in touch with a member of the IDS team today by calling 02920 753 251, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out our contact form