On Wednesday, the Financial Times reported that the government would be issuing “workplace by workplace” guidance on how Britain can safely return to work after the COVID-19 lockdown. The 10 papers, expected to be published next week, will provide much-needed clarity on the plan to re-open workplaces and what constitutes safe working. The documents are set to include information and advice on:
Restricting access to communal spaces
Increased hand-washing and sanitising
Avoidance of face-to-face work
The guidance will also detail the sectors that can start re-opening their doors. Looking at how other European countries have approached easing the lockdown so far, it’s highly likely that any return to work will be gradual to help avoid the health and economic risks of a second spike of coronavirus cases.
While the Health & Safety Executive is working alongside the business department to provide a kitemark-style stamp of approval for standard workplace guidelines, employers must now determine their own rules and policies to protect returning workers.
In a previous blog, we discussed how COVID-19 has led to a renewed focus on effective cleaning and sanitisation practices for commercial spaces. Businesses will need to use the upcoming guidance from the government to draw up new cleaning protocols, with all cleaning personnel required to follow them to the letter, have appropriate training and be equipped with the right PPE at all times.
Additionally, employers must ensure they work closely with building services and facilities management personnel who will be instrumental in implementing the critical environmental and behavioural changesrequired for a COVID-secure workplace. Environmental changes, including increasing airflow through a building, changing HVAC filters regularly and enforcing strict cleaning regimes will be straightforward. However, managers in this area face a greater challenge in implementing and managing behavioural changes, which will require workers to adapt the way they go about their day, whether that’s increased hand washing or maintaining social distancing.
As a result, additional support and training for cleaning and building services employees will be required to ensure compliance with new COVID-secure policies. Those businesses outsourcing these functions will need to work closely with suppliers to communicate updated policies and personnel requirements.
PRS is working with our clients to ensure workplaces are COVID-secure, and any key workers placed during this period are provided with PPE and the proper training to identify and reduce any on-site risks.
Using the new guidelines issued by the government and global health organisations, we’ll be offering a free comprehensive guide to ensure your workplace is COVID-secure and help you inform future policies and procedures.
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