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The ‘one-metre plus’ social distancing rules explained
By Kevin Rowe 3 months ago No comments
One of the most challenging aspects of staying compliant with government guidelines on COVID-19 prevention is that these rules are constantly changing, with new revisions being introduced as the scope of the threat posed by the pandemic continues to evolve.
Since lockdown commenced, social distancing has been one of the key methods used to prevent the spread of the virus, and now that workplaces are gradually reopening, this rule still applies.
However, the guidance has recently been updated from a hard-and-fast two-metre distancing rule to a more flexible “one-metre plus” instruction, in order to give businesses more options on how to protect workers while remaining productive.
As such, businesses need to make themselves aware of exactly how the one-metre plus rule works to take full advantage of the additional leeway it provides, while still maintaining the highest possible standard of on-site safety and hygiene.
The difference between two metres and “one-metre plus”
Prior to July 4th 2020, the rules on physical distancing in the workplace were clear, but inflexible. Companies permitted to reopen were required to maintain a two-metre distance between workers on site at all times, with strict controls on the positioning of workstations and the movement of staff through the premises.
Since then, the government has reviewed the guidance, and decided that the two-metre rule can be relaxed in certain situations when the risk of transmission can be managed in another way.
The new rule is called “one-metre plus”, meaning that a distance of one metre may be sufficient when used in conjunction with other protective methods.
As such, the current government advice - which has been in place since July 4th - still calls for workplaces to maintain two-metre distancing wherever possible, through the following measures:
- Continuing to encourage working from home as appropriate
- Using flexible rotas to limit the number of people on site at any given time
- Discouraging the use of shared workstations and equipment
- Organising a one-way foot traffic flow through the workplace
- Allowing visitors to the worksite by appointment only, and only when necessary
- Creating additional space between workstations and working areas
- Having staff working side-by-side, rather than face-to-face
In cases where staff cannot be two metres apart due to the nature of the work, a one-metre limit can be used instead, as long as other practical measures are implemented to further enhance safety, such as:
- Setting up screens and physical barriers between workers
- Providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Implementing a more frequent hand washing and surface cleaning schedule
- Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using fixed teams or a partnering system
- Improving ventilation to the work site
- Keeping the time taken on any given activity to a minimum
- Staggering breaks and arrival/departure times on site
Equipping your workspace for social distancing
Whether your business is sticking to the two-metre rule or making use of the additional flexibility of the one-metre plus guidance, it remains crucially important to ensure that everyone on site is fully aware of, and committed to, the need for physical distancing.
As a business owner or site manager, you can facilitate this by making sure the workspace is properly set up and equipped for the needs of socially-distant working. You can do so by investing in the following safety supplies:
- Coronavirus safety signs to provide a visual reminder of social distancing rules
- Social distancing floor signs, stencils and tape to remind people to stay a safe distance apart
- Personal protective equipment, including masks, gloves and face visors
- Hand gel and hygiene products to keep hands and surfaces sanitised when physical contact is unavoidable
By ensuring that your company is aware of and complying with the most up-to-date rules on social distancing in the workplace, your worksite will be able to reopen safely and get back to business as usual as soon as possible.
To find out more about how to keep your workers safe from COVID-19, browse our full range of coronavirus safety products and solutions, or download our COVID-Secure Return to Work Guide. You can also call us for free on 0800 043 0161, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.