Returning to Work COVID-19 Guides

Returning to Work COVID-19 Guides

Many organisations have started the process of preparing to open up or at least are beginning to think about what happens next.

 

What do you need to know about returning to work?

The first question many business leaders will be asking is, how can we return to work whilst ensuring the people involved can be assured of their safety?

With the current Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (commonly known as the furlough scheme) due to end on 30th June 2020, organisations need to start thinking about what happens next. Which is why Love Business News has pulled together several Trade Association guides, plus provided an example of how you need to approach this process.

 

HSE are the enforcers of Social Distancing and safe working practices in the workplace

The Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) are leading the UK government response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned that if employers do not enforce social distancing measures, they could have works suspended and face fines. The safety body, in a joint statement with the Trades Union Congress and Confederation of British Industry, said if it became aware of an employer not enforcing social distancing and similar measures, it would act. Consequences range from advice to an enforcement notice – a fine for breaching regulations or a prohibition notice – that shuts down some or all activity on site.

 

“Where HSE identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant PHE guidance to control public health risks, e.g. employers not taking appropriate action to socially distance or ensure workers in the shielded category can follow the NHS advice to self-isolate for the period specified, we will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. These actions include the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements with the PHE guidance”.
Quote taken from https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/social-distancing-coronavirus.htm

Government Guidance on Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The government, in consultation with industry, has produced 8 guides to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible.

View all 8 Guides

 

It’s clear then, that as an employer, you have to take social distancing in the workplace seriously when it comes to planning your return to business. When it comes to navigating the new world of work, this needs to be one of the top items on your to-do list.

— How will you avoid crowding in the workplace?
— What measures can you take to make sure your colleagues remain 2 metres from each other?
— How will you communicate your stance on social distancing to all of your people?
— In what ways will you engage your colleagues to remain vigilant when social distancing?


Here's a picture that provides a great example of how this has been applied at Advance Tapes.

Advance Tapes - a great practical example of managing social distancing

Devising a return to work plan

The health and safety risks arising from Covid-19 primarily arise from person to person contact, transmission through close proximity to infected individuals and surface transmission.  This means it is vital that employers consider what steps can be taken to minimise the risk of the virus entering its premises and infecting its people and visitors and, if it does, having a quick response protocol to stop it spreading.

 

Here are some Trade Association Guides on what actions businesses must think about when considering opening back up.

 

UKFT - Issues for UK fashion and textile manufacturers to consider when planning to return to work 

BRC - Social Distancing Recommendations for Warehouse and Distribution

BRC - Social Distancing Recommendations for non-food retail stores

CIPD - Returning to the workplace guide

 

To get ahead and ensure readiness for staff returning to work it is essential for employers to engage now with their key stakeholders in order to devise a plan - which should include those individuals responsible for health and safety, facilities, trade unions if recognised and HR.

 

Government Guidance on Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible.

These 8 guides cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

 

Construction and other outdoor work

Guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.

 

Factories, plants and warehouses

Guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses.

 

Labs and research facilities

Guidance for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments.

 

Offices and contact centres

Guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments.

 

Other people's homes

Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people's homes.

 

Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery

Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services.

 

Shops and branches

Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.

 

Vehicles

Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.

 


David Pearson
Director of Partnerships at East Midlands Chamber

Businesses across the East Midlands, the UK, and the World are now making plans to return to the office or the workplace.  Pragmatism (UK) Ltd have produced a great 55 Top Tips document that is split into five important sections.  Personally I feel that Communication and Engagement is the most important area.

 

 

Here’s an example letter to provide an outline for notifying people about their return to work

You'll need to inform your people on their return to work, this letter is to provide an idea of the things you'll need to incorporate. This includes identifying anyone who is living with a person who is classified by the NHS as 'very high risk' (clinically extremely vulnerable), as you may decide they are at too high a risk to return.

 

Dear <Name>

Since temporarily halting production last month following the Governments instruction, we have been planning alternative working practices that enable us to recommence manufacturing while keeping you, and the rest of the team safe and able to socially distance.

Following guidance from the NHS, Public Health England and the HSE, we have started the process of carrying out risk assessments and are please to announce that we plan to be ready to start production at our facilities next week.

 

Back to work doesn't mean back to how it was before

During this period the management team have been working hard to improve the business, as well as thinking about what the new normal will look like. So there are a several changes you will need to be made aware of, but first and foremost are the changes to ensure your safety. This means there are special measures you need to be aware of to accommodate a return to work whilst the COVID 19 virus remains a threat.

 

These include, but are not limited to:

 

  • COVID 19: Social Distancing in the workplace

While we won’t be in lockdown forever, social distancing is likely to play a significant role in the workplace for many months to come. What’s critical for us as a business, is to identify situations we will have to take extra measures to make sure we’re enforcing social distancing in the workplace.

Social distancing measures are designed to reduce social interaction between people to help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). Those measures include:

— Avoiding contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
— Avoiding use of public transport where it’s not essential
— Avoiding large and small gatherings in public spaces
— Maintaining 2 metre distance between people when in public spaces (this is particularly relevant in the workplace)

This means we must all play our part and think about areas where keeping a 2m distance isn't possible, for example:

- Kitchen & Canteen Area
- Toilets
- Reception Lobby

We need to ensure if someone is in any of these areas, we wait until it becomes available - leaving the 2 distancing space to pass safely. It may be necessary to stagger breaks, rethink how we work. We're all in this together, which means we want your input. Especially if you feel an activity is compromising your social distancing and safety.

 

  • COVID-19: The use of PPE

There was a time, just a few weeks ago, when only key industry sectors in the UK knew what PPE was, let alone wore it.

PPE – Personal Protective Equipment – has been worn in hazardous industries for years as a last resort to protect workers. Over the past couple of weeks, a global shortage has developed of the type of PPE used to protect health workers from the virus. This is why the Government are not advising or insisting that individuals purchase and/or wear PPE. The choice should be that of the individual, and if they have PPE, they should be able to wear it while at work if they wish. However, the need for enhanced and heightened levels of hygiene are required.

 

  • COVID-19: Enhanced and Heightened Levels of Hygiene

The main route of transmission of the COVID 19 virus is from cough and sneeze droplets. These droplets fall on people in the vicinity and can be directly inhaled or picked up on the hands and transferred when someone touches their face.

How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors; for example:

•    what surface the virus is on
•    whether it is exposed to sunlight
•    differences in temperature and humidity
•    exposure to cleaning products

Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 24 hours, and even more so by 48 hours. Which is why you will be responsible for using the cleaning materials provided to regularly wipe down any surfaces commonly used during the day. Especially in areas like the kitchen or where food is prepared and eaten.

Which is why in addition to reducing your contact with other people, there are things you can do to help stop germs like coronavirus spreading:

•    always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel
•    wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds each time with soap and water or hand sanitiser, especially when you:
      - get home or into work
      - blow your nose, sneeze or cough
      - eat or handle food
•    avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
•    avoid close contact with people who are unwell

The best way to protect yourself from COVID 19 or coronavirus is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water. If soap or water aren’t available and your hands are visibly clean, then sanitiser gel can be used. But proper hand washing is the most effective method and this should be your first choice.

 

  • COVID-19: Self Isolation

Be prepared to self-isolate if you develop cold like symptoms, or one of your family members/house mates develop symptoms.

This means being signed off as sick, staying indoors and avoiding contact with other people for 7 days. If you live with others and you’re the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.

Here is the link to the NHS advice should you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has even confirmed that they will now be enforcing social distancing in workplace, which means we are all accountable for our behaviour, and to report others if they are not acting responsibly.

 

Yours sincerely

 

<Name>

<Job Title>

 

Employers need to plan now for what is likely to be a staged return to the workplace

While at present there is no formal end to the government’s restrictions on work or travel, other countries – including Spain and Italy – have begun to ease certain restrictions and it is possible that the UK may follow suit in a few weeks (although there have been warnings that we will face some form of social distancing for some time to come).

As the timing and nature of any relaxation of restrictions is uncertain, it would be sensible for businesses to consider all the options and have the capability to move quickly from one scenario to another. Employers need to plan now for what is likely to be a staged return to the workplace over what could be prolonged periods. Their guiding principle should be how organisations take care of their people and safeguard their health and well-being. Many people will be concerned and anxious about being in workplaces or travelling to workplaces. They will want to know that their organisation is retaining their support for physical and mental health and are changing their thinking about flexible and remote working. This should be at the heart of any decisions and plans that organisations make.

 

Author of this COVID-19 Business Support Hub Article

Stephen Megson Founder of Love Business and Business Owner

 

Steve Megson

I'm a keen sailor and experienced in encountering the unknown at sea. With my son, Josh, I sailed my boat to Spain from my home port of Poole, my greatest adventure to date (if you read the blog you'll understand why!). Encountering the unknown is about having a clear goal and making sure you keep focused - no matter what happens.

More About Quiet Storm

 

Stephen Megson

A business owner since I was 21 –I was one of the 'enterprise allowance'  generation and started my business back in 1987. I've ridden the waves of a few recessions and overcome plenty of unknowns. I understand the pressure of employing people and the emotional rollercoaster times like this put you through. I've been very fortunate in my career to work with many brilliant visionaries. I've learnt much from them, but for those who know me well, know my quest for learning is never satisfied.

I now specialise in behaviour and business process optimisation, so look at how businesses interact with their people, customers and other stakeholders. I then work collaboratively with businesses to drive out waste and optimise their processes. This is largely through some form of digitisation, resulting in web applications and operational software to manage their systems, processes and KPI's.

I'm passionate about business and have a strong sense of community, which is why I started Love Business back in 2012, as I saw the innovative business owners start to thrive whilst other remain in a cycle of self-fulfilling doom as a result of the media channels negative news coverage. This is why Love Business only covers good news, focusses on the positive and looks to share all that's helpful.

 

How to get in touch with Steve Megson

www.quiet-storm.net

 

COVID-19 Business Support Hub

These are challenging times for business and although our ethos is to only shout about good news, we've created COVID-19 Business Support Hub on the Love Business the website to support you with expert tips, advice and ideas from your fellow businesses to help you get through this COVID-19 crisis. 
 

< Back