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article imageLowdown on employer challenges during COVID-19

By Tim Sandle     Jul 11, 2020 in Business
There are a number of measures that businesses should be putting in place in order to ease more of the workforce back onto site. These measures should be based around revision to site risk assessments.
Each workplace should have an existing risk assessment. In relation to the coronavirus pandemic, employers should be updating these risk assessments to further consider risk of COVID-19 upon the business. A structured approach will help employers to understand what they should do to work safely and protect people. It is important that the risk assessment can be understood by all employees.
Additional measures
The risk assessment will undoubtedly lead to additional measures being required, including screens, coronavirus information notices, social distancing safety signs, face masks, hand sanitiser and hygiene products. While these measures are important, what is most important is developing a culture that is fully aware of the risks around coronavirus. This means rigorously enforcing a hierarchy of controls. Here social distancing is most important, followed by had washing (hot water and soap for a minimum of thirty seconds), alcohol sanitizers and then face mask wearing. Supervisory staff may need to nudge employees into adopting such measures.
Distance matters
Social distancing should be set at 2 metres. If this is not possible, businesses should be fixing barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimizing the number of people in contact with one another.
Cleaning is important
Premises should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Alcohol at 61 to 71 percent is the optimal product to use.
Employee guidance
Employees should be briefed as to what the COVID-19 symptoms are and there should be notices up informing personnel wat to do if symptoms develop on site. Importantly, workers should be informed and encouraged to stay at home when they’re not feeling well. If someone becomes sick while in the workplace should be separated from other employees and sent home as soon as possible. It is also important to educate employees on proper hand hygiene, cleaning, and respiratory etiquette.
Digital technology and remote working
While the lifting of some coronavirus measures by national governments means that more employees can return to the workplace, the advice that those who can work remotely should continue to do so remains. To facilitate this, employers should continue to provide workers with the appropriate hardware and communications software, while ensuring that security measures remain in place.
There may be a need for employees to travel on business. Travel remains an at risk activity and a separate risk assessment should be prepared, to assess different travel options (noting the greater risks from public transport such as by air and train). As such the key criterion should be with travel, accommodation, site visits and return to work. This is after the question ‘Is the travel really necessary?’ has been posed and satisfactorily answered.
The above ideas represent just some of the guidance measures that employers need to be considering in order to keep workplaces safe.
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