The HSE has issued new guidance for working and returning to work in line with the Governments easing of restrictions.
Returning to work after a lockdown or other closure
If your workers have been at home for a while, it may be useful to talk to them about coronavirus precautions before they return to work.
You may also need to repeat discussions about workplace safety if:
- your local restrictions change.
- government guidance changes
- work tasks change
- someone at work tests positive for coronavirus
Prior to a full return to work you should ensure the workplace is ready. Actions will include.
- Complete your COVID-19 risk assessment/ update existing to reflect an increased workforce presence and latest government guidance.
- Social distancing
Where possible you should keep people 2 metres apart. If this is not viable, keeping 1 metre apart with risk mitigation is acceptable.
- Cleaning, hygiene, and handwashing
Keeping your workplace clean and frequent handwashing reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread. It is a critical part of making and keeping your business COVID-secure.
- Ventilation and air conditioning
Good ventilation (including air conditioning) can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. There are simple steps you can take to improve ventilation while maintaining a comfortable temperature in your workplace.
- Talk to workers and provide information.
Consult and involve people in the steps you are taking to manage the risk of coronavirus in your workplace so you can:
- explain the changes you are planning to work safely.
- make sure changes will work and hear their ideas.
- continue to operate your business safely.
- Working from home
If your people are working from home, you should:
- provide the equipment they need, for example a computer, phone, and videoconferencing facilities.
- keep in regular contact with them, making sure you discuss their wellbeing.
- Vulnerable workers
Make sure you consider the risk to workers who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus and put controls in place to reduce that risk.
Giving people the right information and guidance is important to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Talking to workers can also help you understand what information and guidance they need.
Decide what people need to know so they can work safely. This could include providing information on changes made to:
- when and where breaks happen
- when people arrive at or leave work
- when and how people need to clean work areas.
- when people should wash their hands or use sanitiser
Decide the best way to pass on information and guidance to your workers. Things to think about include:
Methods – how do you communicate with workers? You could use:
- signage and posters
- email or digital networks
- video conferencing
Accessibility – some workers may have different needs.
Think about effective ways you can:
- repeat and reinforce information.
- check people understand what you have told them.
Information and guidance for people who are not employees.
You may need to talk to people who do not work for you about your COVID-secure measures. These groups of people could include:
- delivery drivers to and from the workplace
You will need to think about how you can tell them:
- how to social distance when they are at your premises.
- where they can wash their hands
- arrangements for welfare facilities such as toilets and wash basins
- You also need to know about COVID precautions at workplaces your employees visit to keep them safe at these other locations.
Keeping information and guidance up to date
Your plans for working safely may have to change during the pandemic/easing of restrictions.
- tell your workers about changes.
- make sure everyone gets any updated guidance.