Preparing to Re-Open your Business
As the government announced the first minor steps to releasing lockdown all businesses should now turn their attention to how they will be able to re-open their business and still keep staff and customers safe.
We know that life will not instantly return to normal and that businesses will re-open gradually and be required to adapt their processes to comply with recommended practices such as the continued need for social distancing.
As restrictions have now started to lift, it is a good time to review your workplace and what can be done to keep staff and customers safe and what you need to put into place to enable to re-open to the public.
Health & Safety
The government has issued guidance on how you can ensure your workplace is safe to re-open when the time comes and has a range of industry-specific guidance to ensure that you consider all the issues relevant to your workplace. The industries currently included are:
- Construction and other outdoor work
- Factories plants and warehouses
- Labs and research facilities
- Offices and contact centres
- Other people’s homes
- Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
- Shops and branches
Many businesses operate over more than one of these areas so you may need to use more than one guide to ensure your workplace is as safe as possible. The full guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19 . The guidance will be updated as more businesses are scheduled to re-open.
5 main principles to re-opening businesses:
- Work from home if possible
Employers are still being asked to take all reasonable steps to enable people to work at home where they can. Where this is not possible and the workplace is still open, staff should go to work. Employers should keep in communication with staff about how they can attend the workplace safely.
- Carry out Covid-19 risk assessments
Any business with over 5 employees is required by law to have a written risk-assessment that is available to all staff. A risk assessment is designed to identify hazards in the workplace and demonstrate what steps you take to reduce that risk to keep your workplace safe for staff and customers.
If you do not have an up to date risk assessment, you should prepare one before re-opening your business to ensure that you have considered all the risks associated with Coronavirus. As an employer you are required, by law, to protect your employees and others from harm.
There is a step-by-step guide available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on how to do this at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/risk/index.htm. This includes industry specific advice and templates for your risk assessment.
- Maintain 2 metres’ social distancing where possible
Employers need to consider how their workplace can be changed to accommodate the 2m social distancing requirements. This may mean staggering the start times, lunch times and break times of staff, opening more entrances and exits and introducing one-way systems to avoid staff coming into contact with each other and changing seating layouts.
For customers it may mean limiting the number of people on your premises at any one time, placing clear signage on floors indicating a safe 2 m distance and creating one-way systems around your premises for customers.
- Manage transmission risk
Where it is simply not possible to maintain a 2m distance you should do everything possible to minimise risk. This may include erecting barriers between workspaces or between staff and customers, creating one-way systems, creating shift patterns so all staff are not in at one time or ensuring workers face away from each other. Avoid sharing workspaces or hotdesking where possible
- Reinforcing cleaning processes
It is still just as important to ensure workplaces are clean. Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently than normal, paying particular attention to the most touched areas like light switches, door handles and keyboards.
Employers should ensure that they provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser at entrance and exit points and advise staff thoroughly on how to keep their workspace clean.
More guidance is being developed and will be published in advance of the sectors being able to re-open to enable businesses to plan.
We have been in discussions with Torridge District Council and they will shortly be issuing a more localised version of the government advice to address area specific concerns. This is being done in conjunction with Devon District Council so the guidance will be consistent across the county and we will circulate it once it has been finalised. This will be happening for the majority of local authorities so please be sure to check your local government website for any localised advice and guidance.
For further help and guidance, please do not hesitate to contact us.