Coronavirus: How to prepare your business to return safely
By Rob Freeman | 12th May 2020
Guidance from the Government designed to make workplaces as safe as possible has been described as "an important first step".
The guidelines, which have been drawn up in consultation with businesses, unions and industry leaders, are to help UK employed get up and running safely with an extra £14million made available for the Health and Safety Executive.
The new guidance covers eight workplace settings which are allowed to be open from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways.
Individual guidance documents are available for each sector , but the Government has set out five practical steps it says should be implemented as soon as possible.
- Work from home, if you can
All reasonable steps should be taken to help people work from home, but for those who cannot or whose workplace has not been told to close should go to work. Staff should speak to their employer about when their workplace will open.
- Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
Employers will need to carry out assessments to establish what guidelines to put in place. Employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website andall businesses with more than 50 employees are expected to do so.
- Maintain two metres social distancing, wherever possible
Employers should re-design workspaces by staggering start times, creating one way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits or changing seating layouts in break rooms.
- Where people cannot be two metres apart, manage transmission risk
Employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.
- Reinforcing cleaning processes
Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: "This guidance provides a framework to get the UK back to work in a way that is safe for everyone.
"These are practical steps to enable employers to identify risks that COVID-19 creates and to take pragmatic measures to mitigate them."
Jonathan Geldart, director general of the Institute of Directors, welcomed the guidance but stressed returning to full operations was a decision for individual businesses.
He said: "This guidance is an important first step. It won't provide every answer, no guidance can, but directors can use it to inform their risk assessments for operating in this pandemic.
"Ultimately, the decision lies with a company's directors and they need to feel comfortable they can operate safely."
The guidance applies to business which are able to open and for shops will could be in a position to reopen from June 1.
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