We’ve pulled together the most common Coronavirus safety protocols and preventative measures that businesses are implementing across countries and industries, in order to create this COVID-19 Workplace Safety Guide for employers.
Companies are using these safety practices throughout their offices, sites and facilities to keep their staff and the public safe and mitigate the risk of Coronavirus, whilst allowing people to return to work.
Beyond the legal duty of care (Health and Safety at Work Act) to keep people safe, if businesses want to re-open they will need to convince their employees and customers that they’re taking every precaution to keep them safe.
Here are the most common approaches to office Coronavirus safety:
1. Establish a Coronavirus planning team Put together a designated team in the business focused on Coronavirus planning and who are accountable for actions. Ideally bring together expertise in health and safety, human resources, facilities, operations and communications.
The same team could be in charge of monitoring compliance.
2. Create a risk assessment Undertaking and publishing a risk assessment on Coronavirus will highlight, specifically for your business, the work spaces, activities and facilities that present the highest risk and allow you to plan to mitigate them. As well as helping you identify the safety measures to lessen the risks, the document should provide guidance for staff on keeping themselves and others safe. Health and safety risks require assessment (under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations) and need to be recorded if the business has more than five employees.
3. Social distancing practices and adaptations: Creating Zones - Minimise contact between people and different teams by creating zones within the building, clearly marked so people understand where they should operate.
This will limit contact and exposure to colleagues that isn't necessary e.g. in a kitchen where food preparation workers and delivery drivers would normally have mixed, create zones from which delivery drivers can collect packaged food items - at a safe distance from the food preparation staff.
This can also take the form of re-organising office desks and layouts, to space out workstations 2m apart, with physical floor signage showing the exclusion area around a desk or work area. Traffic Flow and Volume - Consider restricting room occupancy levels to maintain the ability to social distance. Take measures to avoid crowded areas, such as receptions, canteens and lobby's.
To assist with the above you could try staggering start and finish times, so everyone doesn't arrive at once and also use floor markings and directional signs to control flow of foot-traffic around the building. Plan site access and egress points to enable social distancing – you may need to change the number of access points, either increase to reduce congestion or decrease to enable monitoring and screening (see below).
Set communal area rules - Such as controlling how many people are in a kitchen at any one time, or how many people can be in the same lift.
Floor markings and signage - To facilitate and control designated queuing areas, to help remind everyone to respect the 2m social distancing rules, to encourage regular hand hygiene practices, to promote any key safety message that might not be routine for staff.
Parking and bike storage arrangements - Social distancing isn't only about the office, your staff will need to commute to get into work. Boris Johnson has said to avoid public transport if possible, which will see more people driving and biking to work. Think how you can facilitate this and make it safe.
A good example of promoting workplace preventative measures via video
4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Masks - Provision of safety masks is a common practice amongst employers, although they are in high demand. The different categorisations can make it difficult to select the correct masks too, however these simply relate to the standards of the country of origin e.g. The N95 is the USA standard, the KN95 is the China standard and FFP2 is the EU standard - including the UK. The level of filtration is the important thing and most of these achieve above 95% filtration (but always check what you are buying).
Screens - Create a physical barrier, such as a perspex screen, between front of house workers and customers where possible. Some companies are going as far to create these screens between desks.
Promote this safety measure to customers too and ask them to order online, on apps or tap and go to avoid contact.
Sanitising stations - Review your buildings, usage and traffic flow, do you have adequate sanitation stations at entrances and communal areas? Particularly near handles, buttons and key-pad entry points.
Sanitising floor mats at entrances can stop the virus being walked into the office.
5. Employee screening and health checks NHSX Track and Trace App - Encourage staff to download and opt-in to the tracing tool, which provides early warning if anyone comes into contact with a person who is later diagnosed with COVID-19. This will allow faster identification and isolation practices to rapidly react to the risk of spread within the office. Body Temperature (Fever Screening) Checks - One of the primary symptoms consistent with COVID-19 is an elevated body temperature of above 38˚C (100.4˚F). Some workplaces have started screening their employees using touchless temperature scanners in order to determine whether they may enter the employer’s workplace.
6. Staff training and communication
Staff will be coming back to a very different way of working and you need to provide guidance and training on some unfamiliar and complex new safety practices. Having training and communication tools to reach employees is vital, a combination of emails, video, intranet postings, flyers/ posters, leader talking points, FAQs or a website area are popular channels.
A great example below of a safety mask face fit instructional video
Communicate with employees to raise awareness of new safety protocols, enforce policies and familiarise them with available tools and resources. This could include issuing and asking staff to sign a new code of conduct.
Internal communication channels and cascading of messages through line managers is critical in a time when things are so fast moving. Using your corporate language and having line managers echoing messages should help reassure employees and keep your business running as smoothly as it can.
If you are planning a post lockdown return to work and implementing new safety measures for your offices, sites or facilities, then video is a powerful way to educate staff and reassure customers that you’re taking safety seriously.
Film Haus can support your business implement these new safety measures with quick and affordable video production services. We can film in your offices highlighting the new signage, Protective Equipment (PPE), Coronavirus workplace adaptations and spell out any new rules, you need staff to work within.
7. Extra Hygiene Facilities & Culture
Think about encouraging hand washing on entering the office and making it easy for everyone to follow the government guidance - with safety signage acting as a reminder.
Additional Cleaning & Deep Cleaning Schedule - Additional cleaning of work areas (including desks and phones) is recommended, either by cleaning contractors or by employees. Many companies are adding deep cleaning rotations to their normal schedule – including carpet cleaning, steam or sanitising products.
Get stricter on enforcing a clean desk policy so surfaces can be reached easily and sanitised.
Regularly clean common contact surfaces in reception, offices, access control and delivery areas e.g. scanners, turnstiles, screens, telephone handsets and desks, particularly during peak flow times
8. Other Workplace Adaptations
Entry Systems - Remove or disable entry systems that require skin contact e.g. fingerprint scanners, keypad locks etc unless they are cleaned between each individual use.
Hot desks - Reduce or remove hot-desks and shared workstations to avoid contamination.
Office Ventilation - Review your buildings ventilation system, it could be undoing your social distancing efforts by moving contaminated air around your building. Is it possible to fit antibacterial filters or switch the system off altogether and open windows and doors to circulate air.
9. Processes for easy reporting of Coronavirus Incidents You must have the facility to report under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) when an incident at work leads to someone’s possible or actual exposure to Coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence. Make it as easy as possible with online forms and promoting the process to staff. Likewise you will need to capture a) if a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work and b) if a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to Coronavirus.
10. Reference government guidance The Health and Safety Executive points to government guidance, its guide for employers, and specific advice for decontamination in non-healthcare settings and for the education sector, social/community care and residential settings and the transport sector. Separate advice is in place for healthcare settings.
See Government workplace guidelines publlished 11.05.20 here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-guidance-launched-to-help-get-brits-safely-back-to-work
Employers who have people in their offices or on site should ensure that employees are able, where possible, to follow Public Health England guidelines on social distancing (including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others), and hygiene (washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds).
We hope you find this guide useful, but always follow the advice of official sources.
11. Communicate working from home guidance Employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home.
Be transparent, clearly communicate your companies expectation of staff and adherence to the Government's 'work from home if you can' guidance, to avoid people putting themselves and others at risk unnecessarily.
There will be many changes to come in the way people live, work and interact, video can play an important part in educating us on how we can keep safe whilst the COVID-19 restrictions are being eased. If you're in charge of facilities, safety, human resources or communications in your workplace, speak to Film Haus about our professional and affordable video production services via email@example.com