The worldwide pandemic isn’t going to disappear anytime soon and more rules and regulations are being introduced daily for keeping the general public and your staff safe while in the workplace. While some workplaces are rightly continuing their work from home process with either reduced days in the office or regular video meetings to keep everyone in the loop. Others are enforcing their staff to be present or employ roles that cannot fulfil their responsibilities from home (manufacturing and construction for instance).
Employers have a legal responsibility to protect their staff if they are making them come into the workplace and staff have the right to report their workplace where guidance is ignored or broken. To ensure your workplace is as safe as can be for your hard-working staff, ensure to follow the recommended safety guidelines, including;
Risk assessments make it easy to identify points of failure for safety in your business and can help you find the greatest risks and how much effort is required to reduce or prevent the risk. Ideally, you should be talking to your staff as they are best placed to understand the risks they come into contact with on a daily basis but it’s also important to listen to their concerns. There is no point in taking time out of your staff’s day to discuss risk assessment and managing risks if you are just going to disregard their concerns and continue as you think is correct. Not only will you break staff trust, but you will also impact productivity and will encourage employee turnover.
Every aspect of your business needs to be assessed for safety including entering and exiting the premises, use of spaces in the property, meetings, movement around the building and common areas.
This includes adding signage to remind staff about keeping to social distancing guidelines and notices to remind visitors about keeping to and queuing according to social distancing guidelines. Some businesses are investing in long-term and durable commercial vinyl flooring that can offer a better surface for affixing temporary social distance sticker notices and queuing placements.
Anti-bacterial cleaner for hands should be posted at every entry point and in every room including bathrooms, kitchen and break out spaces with notices reminding those to regularly clean their hands. While staff can be encouraged to bring their own hand sanitiser, it is the legal responsibility of the employer to provide hand-washing stations or anti-bacterial dispensers for staff to use safely.
Where necessary, introduce staggered start times for staff to prevent a congested entry or exit and implement a one-way system, where possible and necessary, to reduce contact between members of staff or visitors to the property. You will also need to take temperatures as staff arrive and encouraging staggered arrival times can help reduce waiting around or crowding in enclosed spaces.
Staff should be given their own individual workstation with no need to share equipment and if ample social distancing cannot be enforced, staff should be positioned back to back or side to side, rather than face to face. Implement screens between employee workstations to reduce the chance of germ spread through the air.
Weighing Up the Risks
If your staff worked successfully at home during the lockdown it’s time to sit down and consider whether the additional admin and awareness throughout the day are going to be worth it. Particularly when you factor in the effect on the emotional and mental health of your team and how this is going to affect their opinion of the business and their loyalty to the company.
Talk to your staff, listen to their concerns and help them to feel safe, not only is it a legal responsibility but it should be a moral one too. Your staff are the lifeblood of your business, they ensure your customers are seen to and given quality service and they fulfil the deliverables of your services.
Comprehensive COVID safety guides for your specific industry are available here if you require further information or advice on ensuring the safety of your staff.