Getting “COVID SECURE” and Ready to Reopen

By Phil Scoble

Introduction – COVID Secure Guidance

The Government announced on Monday (May 25) that non-essential businesses, with the exception of hospitality providers will be able to reopen from June 15.

The Government has released newly updated guidance to businesses on reopening. The guidance is simple and clear, and the Government has made it easy to follow the advice with checklists and more…

What do you need to do?

There are five basic steps to become COVID Secure:

  • You have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and shared the results with your staff
  • You have cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in line with guidance
  • You have taken all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance in the workplace
  • Where people cannot be 2m apart, you have done everything practical to manage transmission risk
  • You have taken all reasonable steps to help people work from home

Risk Assessment

Doing step 1 –  the risk assessment – should hopefully lead you through identifying and fulfilling 2-5. 

There is simple guidance on how to conduct your own risk assessment here; https://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/assessment.htm 

The key point to remember about a risk assessment is not just that it outlines what the risk is. You have to specify HOW you will reduce and, if possible, eliminate the risk. 

Obviously, with COVID-19, totally removing risk is impossible, but with hand sanitation, social distancing and regular cleaning schedules, it can be reduced significantly. 

It’s also a vital part of this process to share the results with your staff, and if necessary, your customers. If you don’t let staff know what you’re doing to secure their health, they could worry and even become disgruntled. As you will be depending on them to maintain a  high-intensity cleaning schedule and new working practices throughout the day, it’s incredibly important to have your entire team working together.

Cleaning, hand washing and hygiene procedures

The key to achieving a safe workplace is increasing the hand sanitation options and signage about the new conditions, making it simple and easy for staff to change their hand sanitation routine without disrupting the workflow of your business unduly. 

Simple hand wash and hand sanitisation stations can make a big difference, and with mobile options available, you can move them as required by your business. 

Using wall mounted air sterilisers can also reduce the chance of cross contamination, and increasing cleaning schedules using powered sprays, can help to keep premises clean for staff and customers alike.

Maintaining a 2m distance in the workplace

It’s vital to understand the flow of people around your premises before you complete your risk assessment, especially if you are opening a store with reduced space. You will be expected to create a management system to minimise social contact and bottlenecks. This could involve one way systems or even limiting the number of customers you have in store. 

This can also be a challenge for staff in break areas and storage areas which are often cramped or overcrowded. Bring in barriers to control the passage of people, and, if necessary, reduce the number of people allowed in particular areas at one time  – this could require staff to monitor it

Managing the spaces where people cannot be 2m apart

Pinch points, such as payment stations, or toilets, are particular challenges during the pandemic. 

Control people movements with tensator barriers, remind customers of social distancing with floor stickers and protect your staff with perspex barriers

Helping staff work from home

Before reopening, put time into considering who really needs to be in the workplace: the fewer people on your premises the lower the chance of infection for those there. 

Controlling the movements of staff and customers, and monitoring the number of customers will allow you to keep staffing levels at the minimum, making it safer for everyone. It may also be important to monitor the temperatures of your staff, to ensure that those that need to self isolate are identified quickly and simply.

Conclusion

To be ready for reopening, and the start of the ‘new normal’ will take just a few careful steps for most small to medium sized businesses.  By investing in simple kit, communicating effectively with staff and maintaining strict protocols, there’s no reason your site shouldn’t be ready in just a few days. 

For more details on the Government guidelines, check out this page: 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

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