Is there anything else I should consider from a health and safety perspective?
Increased hygiene measures should be introduced to limit the spread of infection. Increase the frequency of cleaning, particularly higher risk contact points such as door handles. Avoid the use and sharing of hardcopy in favour of electronic documents; avoid sharing of tools and work equipment; increase the availability of handwashing facilities and hand sanitisers; issue anti-bacterial wipes and tissues to staff, and remind everyone to maintain good personal hygiene practices, including regular hand washing. Prominent and repeat signage will be vital in reminding workers of these steps they can take to protect themselves.
PPE – e.g. disposable gloves and face masks – are not currently legally required in the UK, but especially where social distancing might not be possible, it may be necessary to make appropriate PPE available to staff. If so, you will need to make sure there is enough available train everyone so it used properly and provide for safe disposal of used items.
MOST IMPORTANTLY – communicate with your people; invite their input and suggestions and act on them. Communication and participation in the process of a safe return to work are going to be crucial to its’ success.
Monitor for illness: train managers how to spot the symptoms of COVID-19 and have a clear process if someone is potentially infected. Continue to remind staff to only come into work if they are well and not experiencing any symptoms. A number of businesses are planning on using testing and screening methods, such as temperature checks. Remember, these steps create data privacy considerations which you will need to consider.
Do not forget existing health and safety obligations, such as maintaining sufficient numbers of fire marshals and first aiders on-site. Employers should also be aware that the Health and Safety Executive must be notified under RIDDOR of any workplace incidents that lead to exposure to COVID-19 and any cases where there is “reasonable evidence” that it was caused by exposure in the workplace. Be aware that workers are being encouraged to report to HSE failures of their employers to keep them safe from the threat of the virus.