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Back to work: a guide to opening up your business after lockdown

actory workers with face mask protect from outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19. Concept of protective action and quarantine to stop spreading of Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19.

It’s official, those who cannot work from home are being actively encouraged to go back into the workplace. This includes many in the manufacturing, construction and food industries.  Here is our guide to ensuring staff and visitors are safe and social distancing is implemented as the nation begins to return to work.

A general guide to good practice when encouraging employees to return to work:

  • Ensure employees who are in a vulnerable group (including those aged 70 and over, those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women) are strongly advised to follow social distancing guidance
  • Ensure employees who are in an extremely vulnerable group and should be shielded are supported to stay at home
  • Make sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  • Make sure managers can spot symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and are clear on relevant processes, including sickness reporting and sick pay.
  • Ensure there are plenty of handwashing facilities. Soap and water are best, but hand sanitiser as a secondary option where necessary. Tissues should also be provided and staff informed of and encouraged to follow good hygiene practices.
  • Have a clear written policy and keep all staff up to date about what you are doing to reduce risks of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace.
What exactly are the social distancing requirements that the government is recommending?

The key guidance on social distancing is that employers who have people in their offices or on-site should ensure that employees are able, where possible, to maintain a 2-metre distance from others and that they should be able and encouraged to frequently wash their hands with soap and water ideally, for at least 20 seconds.

To facilitate this and ensure staff safety the additional points should be considered.

  • If employees can work from home they should be encouraged to do so. It means greater safety and fewer people on site making it easier for those who do need to come in to maintain social distancing. There are some helpful tools to help you manage tasks and productivity of teams remotely and these include:For communication: Zoom.us (now updated to address reported privacy issues) and Google Hangouts for online meetings.For project/task management: Asana, Monday, Trello and Slack are all popular and well-used systems to assign tasks, share files and manage workflows and deadlines.
  • Members of staff who are vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, as well as individuals whom they live with, should be supported as they follow the recommendations set out in the guidance on social distancing and shielding respectively

 

Signage to promote social distancing due to coronavirus

 

It may be helpful to have floor stickers and signage to help you maintain the 2 metre distance between anyone on the premises. We have items like this in stock, please email us at sales@cisafety.com or call us on 01726 74264 for more information.

Click here to see some posters

What if we cannot maintain a 2-metre distance between employees easily?

There will inevitably be some activities where it is almost impossible for staff or visitors to maintain the social distancing guidelines. If this is the case, government guidance is to carefully consider whether this particular activity needs to continue for the business to operate. If it does need to take place, then the guidance is that employers should take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission of COVD-19.

Staff should be advised to keep 2 metres apart as much as possible, but where this is not easy to maintain, you should advise staff to wash their hands frequently, and especially at key points including arrival at work or home, before and after eating or taking a break. Before and after operating machinery or equipment and after sneezing, coughing or blowing their nose.

To help with this, you should consider adding additional pop-up handwashing stations or facilities, providing soap, water and/or hand sanitiser.

When entering and leaving, you should ensure your workforce stays 2 metres apart as much as possible. To protect your staff, you should remind colleagues daily to only come into work if they are well and no one in their household is self-isolating.

Many businesses will need to provide more handwashing and hygiene facilities.

These products may be helpful:

Refillable liquid soap dispenserFloor mount for soap dispenser

Wall mounted dispensers for alcohol gel or soap. These dispensers can also be mounted on floorstands.

This sneeze stand is helpful for anyone who coughs or sneezes or needs to wash their hands after touching a key touch point such as a door handle.

 

Sneeze station Sneeze Station. Contains 2 x 236ml sanitizing hand gel; 3 x boxes of 80 tissues; one label to seal prior to disposal.

 

Please email us at sales@cisafety.com or call us on 01726 74264 for more information about these products.

For manufacturing and processing businesses...

If essential activities mean that staff cannot easily maintain a 2-metre distance between each other, staff should work side by side or facing away from each other rather than face-to-face if possible.

Cleaning procedures should be scheduled regularly and more frequently throughout the day, even if this means, pausing production to allow staff to wipe down workstations with disinfectant.

Staff should be assigned to shift teams which remain the same to limit social interaction.

Break times should be staggered and staff encouraged to take breaks separately from each other rather than gathering. Staff should be encouraged to wash their hands before and after each break.

You should also put up signage and floor markings in storage and warehouse areas, encouraging a 2-metre distance from colleagues where it is at all feasible.

Click here for detailed guidance on food processing.

For the construction industry...

Staff should be advised to keep 2 metres apart as much as possible, but where this is not easy to maintain, you should advise staff to wash their hands frequently, and especially at key points including arrival at work or home, before and after eating or operating machinery and after sneezing, coughing or blowing their nose.

Employees should keep the windows of enclosed machinery or enclosed spaces open for ventilation and the inside of cabs should be cleaned between use by different operators.

The site and workflow should be planned to minimise contact between workers and avoid skin-to-skin and face-to-face contact. Where face-to-face contact is essential, this should be kept to 15 minutes or less wherever possible.

Staff should use stairs in preference to lifts or hoists. Where lifts or hoists must be used, you should lower their capacity to reduce congestion and contact at all times, and regularly clean touchpoints, such as doors and buttons.

Where facilities to wash hands are not available, hand sanitizers should be used.

More examples for employers are set out in these illustrative industry examples

 

What if we want someone to come back to work but they ask to stay at home?

Government guidance currently is that employers in businesses which are legally allowed to open should actively encourage those who cannot fulfil their roles from home to return to the workplace.

For those staff who ask if they can stay at home, even though they cannot fulfil their role at home, the guidance is that employers should use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay.

Sick pay must be paid to those who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who are living with someone who has those symptoms. SSP is also available to those who are staying at home because they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (shielding).

Guidance about those who live with someone vulnerable who needs to be shielded is simply that they should be supported as they follow the guidance on social distancing and shielding respectively.

If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online, and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.

Employees are also entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations related to coronavirus (COVID-19) including the need to look after dependants, including children who need to be looked after because their school has closed.

There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.

ACAS have more information online.

Click on the links below for more official guidance and information:

Government guidance to businesses about COVID-19

HSE guidance on social distancing 

If you would like up to date information about more products which can help you to open your business safely, we are sending out e-shots on the following ranges.

  • Equip your staff: Hi-vis waistcoats, masks, face shields and other PPE
  • Keep it clean: Wipes, spray, gel and soaps and hygiene products

Click here to sign up for updates on these products and future news and guides from us here at CIS Safety. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe button on our emails.

As always our team are here to help you. Please do keep in touch with us and we’ll work with you to support you at this difficult time. Email us at sales@cisafety.com or call 01726 74264.
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