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How to manage a safe return to work after the COVID-19 lockdown

How to manage a safe return to work after the COVID-19 lockdown
By Kevin Rowe 6 months ago No comments

For businesses that have had to limit or suspend their activities during the COVID-19 lockdown, the prospects of some of those restrictions being eased will represent an important first step on the path back to normality.

However, business owners will also be very aware that this will be a difficult path to tread, particularly with regard to workplace safety.

A lax approach to health and hygiene in these early days and weeks after lockdown could be hugely damaging to your organisation and to the nationwide effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, potentially creating the risk of a second wave of infections and lockdown measures being reimposed.

As such, any return to work after lockdown needs to be carefully and safely managed, with an emphasis on high standards of worker hygiene, continued social distancing and strict control over working protocols.

In order to help businesses prepare, we’ve put together a few tips on how to ensure your organisation is able to resume work as efficiently as possible, while continuing to keep your workers safe and protected from the threat that COVID-19 still poses.

Plan out everything you’ll need

Well-organised business owners should be taking this opportunity to put thorough and careful plans in place for exactly how any return to work will be safely managed, looking at what measures will be needed and how this will be accomplished.

As with any workplace safety matter, this should start with a thorough risk assessment, followed by the creation of a comprehensive, forward-looking plan. Possible steps include:

  • Carrying out a deep clean of the premises before reopening
  • Organising regular cleaning and disinfection of the work space on a regular basis
  • Reorganising your working areas to create greater distance between members of staff
  • Investing in PPE to minimise the risk of infection

Carefully control who enters the workplace

A complete return to “business as usual” will not be possible straight away. While the risk of infection is still high, it’s important to ensure that access to your working space is provided only when necessary, which may mean limiting the number of visitors or on-site customers you allow inside.

To achieve this, consider the following steps:

  • Place strict limits on the number of people allowed inside at any given time
  • Stick to phone calls and videoconferencing for meetings that do not need to happen on-site
  • Set up drop-off and collection points for essential deliveries
  • Invest in protective plexiglass screens to protect staff who need to interact with customers
  • Use floor signs and markings to control the flow of foot traffic

Implement social distancing policies

Social distancing has become an everyday reality due to COVID-19, and this will continue in the early days of the post-lockdown recovery. Staying safe at work will mean sticking to a minimum two-metre distance between individuals, so it is sensible to look now at ways in which this can be achieved.

Consider the following tips:

  • Rearrange desks and working areas to provide greater distance between staff members
  • Continue to favour digital communication over face-to-face meetings and physical paperwork
  • If your workplace deals with direct transactions, continue to encourage the use of contactless payments over cash handling
  • Stagger shift patterns and break times to limit the number of workers on-site at any given time
  • Make use of floor signs and markings to demonstrate the minimum distance that people should be keeping from each other

Stay focused on hygiene

Maintaining a high standard of hygiene and cleanliness remains the number one way of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Staff are likely to be aware of the need for regular hand-washing by now, but it’s still advisable to make sure this message is properly hammered home at this crucial time.

As an employer, you can help to reinforce this by doing the following:

  • Using safety signs and notices to remind staff of the proper way to wash and dry their hands, and the need to dispose of tissues immediately after a cough or sneeze
  • Providing disinfectant sprays, wipes and hand gel across the workplace to make it easy for staff to regularly clean their hands, belongings and gear
  • Replace communal or shared tools with personal equipment wherever possible
  • Introduce no-touch doors, switches or other fittings where feasible

Keep on communicating

As with any health and safety plan, your COVID-19 policies will be much more effective with the complete buy-in of every member of staff. This means consulting with everyone involved to make sure individual needs are being met, and that all workers understand what is expected of them.

Possible steps include:

  • Involving the whole company in safety-related decision-making from an early stage, ensuring everyone feels comfortable and cared for
  • Finding out which staff members will need to return first, and which may need special protection or continued remote working arrangements due to vulnerability
  • Providing clear guidance and explanations for any new safety measures, and giving staff an opportunity to provide feedback on any problem areas

By taking these steps, your business should be able navigate the challenges of returning to work after lockdown, establishing a productive and effective new way of working that will help get your business back on track - while continuing to keep coronavirus at bay.

If you’re looking for safety products to help keep your workers safe from COVID-19, SafetyBuyer offers a comprehensive range of high-quality coronavirus safety products and solutions, with fast UK delivery, competitive pricing and top-tier customer service.

For more information, call us for free on 0800 043 0161, or drop us an email at sales@safetybuyer.com.