Covid-19 Return to Work Strategy – are you prepared? #NewNormal

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As the Government starts considering when and how it is going to relax the ‘lock down rules’, business are starting to think about how they are going to re-start trading and bring employees back to work safely.


You must consider your duty of care to staff and those who could be affected what you do(HASWA 1 ), not only must you think of the implications of Covid-19 and all the new Government guidelines, also the risks of hazards being realised, like your workplace has been lying dormant for weeks, for example Legionella, Lifts and Lifting Equipment.


We have put together the top 10 things to consider and where to get further advice from before you start opening your doors and trading again, bearing in mind Covid-19 is going to be around for along time, we have to maintain the Governments main guiding principle of social distancing (so far as is reasonable practicable) to prevent the spread of the disease for the foreseeable future #newnormal and avoid a second peak.

Top ten tips for getting your business started again;

  1. Start by preparing your risk assessment – Consult with staff (Trade Unions)
    a. Identify the hazards you need to consider – Covid-19 spread (including surface hot spots) and workplace e.g. Legionella from stagnant water in pipes.
    b. Identify who is at risk of harm, including anyone considered vulnerable, ‘shielded’ staff should remain at home.
    c. Review existing controls and evaluate the risk
    d. Identify any new additional controls you need to bring in, review specific social distancing guidelines (2m) for your sector/industry published by the Government and review regular as this is constantly changing. You may need physical barriers (plexiglass), queuing lanes, or even social distancing personal alarms, teams/cohorts working and remaining together (shifts), avoid crowding/gatherings, where you can’t avoid close working, work side by side and avoid face to face
    contact. – #change-the-way-you-work.
    e. Record your assessment if you have more than 5 employees.
  2. Prepare your workplace, carry out an inspection. Some systems may need to be brought on-line in a controlled way, for example flushing water systems (legionella) or machinery.
  3. Review (regularly) your policies, arrangements and procedures, e.g. HR, Sickness, First Aid, Social Distancing, PPE, Decontamination and Infection Control and Controls, perhaps develop Covid-19 specific ones;
    a. Set out your roles and responsibilities, do you have enough First Aiders or Fire Marshals?
    b. Be clear on your rules and what support is in place for staff who may be anxious.
    c. Incident reporting, Covid-19 is now a RIDDOR 2 reportable disease.
    d. What to do if staff or family members in the same household feel unwell or are sick from Covid-19 related symptoms.
    e. Communicate them to staff.
  4. Where staff can work from home, let them (think safety in the home (DSE 3 )), to reduce the number of staff in the workplace, consider staff rotation, start & finish later or earlier, or spread the working days to weekends, remember lone working controls.
  5. Put in place a cleaning and disinfectant regime (including objects), provide access to soap and water and/or hand sanitiser (pop ups) for hand hygiene, make available to visitors, think about mobile workers. Remember to review your COSHH 4 risk assessments and controls.
  6. Provide signage, floor markings and remind (announce) people regularly.
  7. Brief your staff on your risk assessment and controls including how to spot symptoms. If your providing PPE 4 , train staff and if necessary, carry out a ‘face fit’ test.
  8. Go digital where you can to reduce handling paper
  9. Governance – monitor your controls and lookout for staff/visitor breaches, report incidents and near miss incidents gather the data.
  10. Encourage staff to bring their own food in rather than opening a canteen, if not, review your controls.

Cleaning and waste disposal – The government has provided guidance on cleaning and waste disposal to help businesses reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).


Food safety – See the government guidance on food safety. This includes guidance on foodhygiene, managing employee sickness and social distancing in the workplace, including for food processing plants, supermarkets and outdoor food markets.


Construction sites and safe working – industry guidance Remediation and COVID-19: Building Safety update Health and Safety Executive latest advice on Covid-19, including; RIDDOR 2 , Face masks, Protecting Home workers, Social distancing (your business and in-work activities), Work Equipment (examinations and testing), Drivers (access to welfare facilities and hours rules) and First aid (cover and qualifications during the outbreak)

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