Today the UK government have reduced COVID restrictions around isolation for those that test positive, and as a result have published updated guidance on working safely during Coronavirus and what you need to consider as an employer when bringing staff back into the workplace, in order to protect your team and customers.
The 5 main actions you can take to protect yourself, your staff and your customers and ensure you're working safely during Coronavirus
These are called priority actions as they are important steps that will apply to most organisations. Read the full guidance for advice on how to do this in a way that works for your workplace.
The page offers guidance for various industries, but in this article, we will summarise the key headlines that they share, and the key things you need to do as an employer bringing staff back into work no matter what industry your business operates in.
1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes the risk from COVID-19
By law, you must complete a health and safety risk assessment for your business in order that you’re keeping your personnel and customers as safe as possible. Complete a risk assessment, considering the measures set out in the above guidance. Also consider reasonable adjustments needed for staff and customers with disabilities. Share it with all your staff. And make sure to keep it updated.
2. Provide adequate ventilation
You should make sure there is an adequate supply of fresh air to indoor spaces where there are people present. This can be natural ventilation through opening windows, doors and vents, mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, or a combination of both.
In particular, you should identify any poorly ventilated spaces in your premises that are usually occupied and take steps to improve fresh air flow in these areas. In some places, a CO2 monitor can help identify if the space is poorly ventilated.
3. Clean more often
It’s especially important to clean surfaces that people touch a lot. You should also ask your staff and your customers to use hand sanitiser and to clean their hands frequently to prevent higher risk of infection and spread of the virus.
4. Ask people with COVID-19 or any of the main COVID-19 symptoms to stay away
While people who have COVID-19 are no longer legally required to self-isolate, workers or customers who have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19, or a positive test result, should follow the public health advice to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. They should not attend work. If a worker is unable to work from home, you should talk to them about the options available to them. For example, they may be entitled to statutory sick pay.
5. Communicate and train
Keep all your workers, contractors and visitors up-to-date on how you’re using and updating safety measures to ensure every single person in your organisation is on top of any new changes or shifts to ways of working.
Testing your staff
Regular testing remains the most effective way to mitigate and reduce risks caused by COVID-19 and prevent the spread of the virus. Here’s what the government have to say on testing your organisation:
‘Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get a free NHS test.’
‘Employees who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 can access testing free of charge at home or at a test site. Read guidance on accessing tests if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19.’
What if I want to regularly test all staff regardless of symptoms?
‘You can also pay an approved provider to provide tests or run a test site for your workplace. Read guidance on getting COVID-19 tests for your employees.‘
‘Regular testing could help identify more positive cases of COVID-19 in the workplace. Read further guidance on your options for workplace testing, or call 119 for more information.’