10 Points to Consider for a Safe Working Environment Factsheet
Each company is required to undertake and update a Covid-19 specific risk assessment for their premises. As with all Risk Assessments you will need to identify any hazards, decide who may be harmed and how, put in place control measures to reduce the risk and record your findings. Minster Cleaning will undertake a risk assessment for our own tasks.
Staff training and awareness
A return to work does not mean the virus has gone away. Discuss your Covid-19 Policy with staff returning to the workplace and their responsibilities in containing the spread of the virus. Explain to staff any changes in routine you have introduced in order to allow a return to work. Make sure staff recognise the symptoms of an infected person and how to react should they suspect anyone is contagious.
Ensure workers maintain social distancing guidelines (2m or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable). An example of risk mitigation would be partitioning of screens between desks. Staff need to understand that social distancing is always required, including break times and during their commute to and from work.
Fresh air flow
It is now being reported that increasing the air flow through a room can dilute the concentration of any virus present. Simply opening a window can help achieve this. If you have an air conditioning system it should be switched to full fresh air mode.
Restrict access to essential visitors only. Maintain a record of all visitors for track and trace purposes and encourage visitors to use hand sanitiser or hand washing facilities as they enter.
Staff should self-isolate if they show symptoms of Covid-19. Review your current hygiene practices and risk assessments to make sure that you are taking all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of people spreading illness at work. This will include promoting good hygiene using posters and notices advising employees to:
- Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or their sleeve (not their hands) when they cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately
- Wash hands with soap and water often (or sanitizer gel where this is not available)
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- Avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with their hands if they are unclean
Staggered start/finish/break times
To comply with social distancing, and to reduce congestion in communal areas, you may want to consider staggering the start, finish, and break times of your staff. If you have more than one entrance you could dictate which staff use which entrance – maybe have a separate entrance and an exit. Limit the number of staff allowed in the kitchen, canteen, staff room at any one time.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal protective equipment must be provided where required by a risk assessment. The PPE should be fit for purpose and no-one should be asked to re-use PPE inappropriately.
Common touch points
These are areas that numerous staff come into contact with, several times during the course of a working day (e.g. door handles/push plates, handrails, light switches, telephones, keyboards, appliance handles, kitchen work surfaces, sink taps, toilet flushes and printers). Staff should be encouraged to clean these areas during the day to reduce the risk of cross contamination. Staff should also keep their personal space clean. Try to avoid hot desking and sharing of equipment. Minster Cleaning can provide a supply of sanitising wipes to allow staff to clean these touch points during the day.
A robust cleaning regime
In addition to any detailed clean at the point of reopening your premises, it may be that your regular cleaning schedule will need to be reviewed. To reassure staff that you are doing all you can to protect them, it may be necessary to increase the amount of regular cleaning undertaken. You should also consider the general hygiene of your business – use paper towels instead of normal towels or hand dryers, make sure your hand washing facilities are adequate, provide hand sanitisers and sanitising wipes for staff to use.