The pandemic has affected us all in one way or another, with many smaller businesses being the hardest hit. But, with vaccines rolling out at an unprecedented rate, schools reopening, and significant parts of the economy expected to open by mid-April, there is light at the end of the Coronavirus tunnel. So it is time to get the workplace Covid-19 ready.

Unfortunately, it is not just a case of restocking and reopening; employers must follow strict government guidelines before opening up their doors to both employees and customers, and to help you stay compliant, we’ve compiled this back-to-business guide.

Getting The Workplace Covid Ready

The British Government has outlined several steps to help employers prepare the workplace for returning employees. These include:

Covid Ready Risk Assessment 

Most business premises have a risk assessment plan, but these need updating to protect workers and customers from coronavirus. If you have fewer than five employees, you do not need a written plan, but if you employ six or more people, you need to compile a COVID Ready Risk Assessment that identifies the following:

  • Who is most at risk,
  • What work activity may cause transmission of the virus,
  • The likelihood of exposure in the workplace,
  • How you expect to control the risk,
  • Practical measures you intend to implement such as social distancing, staggering shifts, providing additional sanitiser stations and handwashing facilities,

You’ll find more information on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Website.

Social Distancing

Most of us are used to social distancing by now, but if you do not have the space to enforce the 2-metre apart rule, how do you implement it in the workplace? According to HSE, you should consider additional control measures such as:

  • Using floor tape to mark designated work areas,
  • Having employees working side-by-side, not face-to-face,
  • Installing signage to remind staff to be Covid-compliant,
  • Limiting movement of employees in lifts, corridors, walkways etc.
  • Rotating lunch breaks to avoid overcrowding staff canteens,
  • Improving workplace ventilation,

When it comes to drivers and delivery staff, you should ensure that they have sufficient PPE, hand sanitiser, and disinfecting wipes to clean their sack truck, platform trolley or distribution cage after every delivery. Regular cleaning will help avoid cross-contamination in the workplace and take a big step towards being COVID ready for reopening.

Implementing Additional Cleaning & Handwashing Protocols

We know that coronavirus is transferrable from person to person. To limit the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace, business owners must supply hand sanitiser products and handwashing facilities and encourage employees to use them regularly throughout the day.

Coronavirus can live on surfaces for many hours or even days. So it is important to disinfect surfaces regularly and clean them thoroughly at the end of each day. You’ll find further information on disinfecting the workplace on the HSE website.

Improving Workplace Ventilation

Ventilation can significantly reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus by aerosol transmission, so workplaces must be well-ventilated with either natural ventilation (open windows) or mechanical ventilation such as air conditioning systems.

However, ventilation has a minimal impact on droplet transmission and contact transmission and will only help if used alongside social distancing, regular handwashing and surface disinfectant protocols. It is definitely a useful step towards making your workplace COVID ready.

Providing Employees with Essential COVID Ready Workplace Safety Information

Communication is key to keeping your workplace Covid-secure. The government recommends that employers consult with their employees, either directly or through a trade union, to explain the necessary changes.

Topics to cover during staff meetings include workplace risks and how to avoid them, changes in cleaning and sanitising protocols, social distancing and spotting the signs of infection. Employers must, by law, reduce the risk of coronavirus in the workplace. It is integral for employees to understand the role they play in keeping your business safe.

Taking Care of Vulnerable Workers

A year into the pandemic, we know that some workers are more vulnerable to succumbing to the virus than others, and extra precautions are essential for anyone at risk. According to Public Health England, high-risk grounds include:

  • Older males
  • Anyone with a pre-existing health condition such as diabetes
  • People who have high body mass index (BMI)
  • Individuals falling within the BAME demographic (Black, Asian, or minority ethnic)

While there are no clear guidelines on how business owners can further protect at-risk employees. Enforcing social distancing, good hygiene and improved ventilation in the workplace can help. Where possible, vulnerable workers should continue to work from home.

Hopefully, you should be COVID ready, if you are interested in even more helpful tips and interesting articles on all things trucks and trolleys. Check out our blog.