Making The Workplace Covid Secure

Industry News By Matthew Coombes

The first case of COVID-19 was reported in the UK on the 31st of January 2020. Over one year on, and we’re still living with it. Below are some steps that you can take to make your workplace “COVID secure”.

Read the guidance

In the UK, the government have created different guidance documents for many different sectors of work. The first thing that you need to do to work towards “COVID-secure” status is find and read the relevant guidance to your industry. There is separate guidance for areas such as schools, further education, childcare, weddings and venues, public transport, and the main business guidance that applies to all workplaces.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also release free information and guidance whenever there is an update issued by the UK government, to help organisations understand what they need to do to keep their employees safe. You can stay up to date with the HSE guidance via their Twitter and LinkedIn pages, or by visiting their website.

Implement changes

Once you have found and read your relevant guidance you need to act to implement changes to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading within the organisation. The changes that you make will depend entirely on your operations.

Social Distancing

As of the 19th of July, social distancing is no longer a requirement by law in the UK. However, increasing the distance between each employee reduces the likelihood of direct airborne transmission through inhalation of the infectious particles that contain the COVID-19 virus.

The UK government are still expecting individuals and organisations to minimise face-to-face contact where possible, and to wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.

Ventilation

A well-ventilated room reduces the build up of the COVID-19 virus particles in the room’s atmosphere.

While we’re in the summer months, it is a good idea to open windows to increase the amount of fresh air circulating through the building. If you have an air conditioning system that sources fresh air from outside, you can use this instead. However, be aware that a closed-circuit air-conditioning unit that re-circulates the air already in the room(s) will also re-circulate any aerosolised COVID-19 particles.

We recommend watching this short video created by the HSE that explains how good and poor ventilation can affect the spread of COVID-19:

Shared surfaces

Reduce shared surfaces where you can. Anything that is routinely touched by multiple people becomes a shared surface. Common shared surfaces are:

  • Door handles, push plates and locks
  • Taps, kettles, cupboard handles
  • Keyboards, mice, power buttons on devices
  • Shared vehicles, equipment and devices (such as work vans, tills, photocopiers, workplace tablets and digital price guns)
  • Tools including hand tools & power tools

The most effective way to deal with common surfaces is to clean the surface in question after each use. If that’s not suitable, you can provide hand washing stations or alcohol-based hand sanitiser in common areas such as on either side of doors or in close proximity to shared surfaces.

The methods of control that you put into place will depend on the needs and structure of your organisation, employees and operations.

Keep up to date

Guidance in the workplace changes frequently, so it is important to keep checking it and make sure that you’re changing with it. The reason that the guidance changes so frequently is because it changes in relation to new evidence, in response to trends in infection, and when the government make a decision that requires new guidance. As such, you should keep up to date via the government website, HSE website and reputable mainstream news media sources.

Review changes

It’s all well and good knowing that changes to guidance have taken place, but you will then need to apply the new information to the workplace. Due to the fact that the guidance changes can be in relation to new scientific information you need to be ready for anything.


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