August 7, 2020

As a result of Coronavirus, we were encouraged across the nation to;
  1. Wash our hands for a prolonged period;
  2. Keep two metres apart where possible;
  3. Seek testing/self-isolate if we notice any symptoms of the virus.

As months passed, the government reported a fall in the reproductive number and growth rate of the virus, sparking premature celebrations in parts of the nation, with thousands taking advantage of the nice weather by heading to the beach, or having more gatherings and generally enjoying the enhanced freedoms again.

As lockdown loosens, the government is actively encouraging workers to return to their workplaces, but what precautions are we taking to protect our staff? 

What’s New?

From 1st August, employers can discuss with their staff arrangements for returning to work. 

This return is supplemented by the earlier announcement from the government allowing people to use public transport once again (provided they wear a mask).

While a welcome gesture for those reliant on public transport, some workers have expressed concerns for their safety not during travel, but within the workplace itself.

All businesses in the UK have a legal responsibility to remain health and safety compliant. 

As events have unravelled over the past few months, it has meant that our health, and the health of others, has transcended any other actions we previously deemed as important. 

This has shone a spotlight on current health and safety policies for businesses everywhere and targeted individual health like never before.

For the vast majority of businesses, health and safety is seen as a chore that is endured rather than a contribution to the success of a business. 

Risk assessments, sufficient welfare facilities and health and safety policies have long been required across most, if not all industries, but now Coronavirus has made this ‘basic and boring’ requirement, a concern everyone has taken notice of. 

The government has warned that the decision to return will “need to be reflected in the risk assessment and actions taken to manage the risks of transmission”, so…where to start? 

We’ve pieced together the main components permitting a return to work that business owners, staff and their families can have faith in.

Main Symptoms 

Make sure your staff are clear on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. 

Display visual aids to remind everyone of what they might be feeling or seeing if they have the virus. 

In some cases, people will notice side-effects if they have contracted the virus such as a high temperature, a new continuous cough and a change to or even loss of sense of smell or taste.  

Be wary, however, that some cases may be asymptomatic and as such, there may be no indication that a colleague has the virus.

Precautions like distancing and hand washing and sanitising are paramount.

Transparency

Create a guilt-free environment should staff want to tell you that they suspect they have contracted the virus.  

Suspecting that you might have the virus can be, understandably, a stressful situation.

Allowing colleagues to confide in you if they suspect they might have the virus, can ultimately lead to quicker tracking and tracing of those they may have come into contact with. 

Take the initiative to try to contact those they may have encountered while at work.

Preventing Transmission

  • Ensure you have sufficient welfare, sanitising, and handwashing facilities and allow for social distancing
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with hot water and soap, and wash them more often
  • Hand sanitiser should be readily available and used periodically throughout the day
  • Use anti-bacterial wipes to clean down communal areas and touchpoints like door handles
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose
  • PPE should be made available where necessary (and worn correctly!)
  • Avoid using public transport when travelling to and from work, if possible
  • Everyone should be responsible for their own areas of work and sanitise those areas regularly
  • Adhere to distancing measures and do not congregate in groups
  • Be honest with your colleagues if you notice any symptoms and tell a manager immediately

Have a Plan-B

Have a failsafe by making efficient plans that will allow staff to work remotely if they can, should they need to self-isolate or in the case of another lockdown situation. 

Their health should be of the utmost importance, as should yours. 

Making sure staff can work from home if needed means you are actively reducing the risk of transmission both in the workplace and within the wider society.  

Collectively, staff can return to work in a safe and preventative environment, and this is paramount to making sure your business succeeds. Your staff are your most important asset.

Okay, How Can I Put This into Action?

All of these things, while seemingly simple, can benefit individuals and businesses as a unit, in tackling COVID-19. 

Collectively, it is possible to return to work safely if we are militant about the way we work and make it the new normal.  

Health and safety has never been more critical.

Are you feeling uncertain about how to implement the right health and safety procedures?

Put your trust in the experts to keep you compliant. 

For a free consultation on how to best tackle health and safety within your organisation, contact us today.

Like what you read?

Join 5,494 business owners and HR practitioners keeping 'in the know' with the latest HR & Employment Law developments.

  • Sent every Friday
  • Features the latest HR news 
  • Usually under 5-minutes read time
  • Free, forever
  • <0.42% unsubscribe

About the author 

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners and regularly writes articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law. Outside of the office, James is a keen Cricketer, playing in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves going to watch his football team, Crewe Alexandra. Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.

Comments