CORONAVIRUS - 29.04.2021

Ten steps to reopening safely after coronavirus lockdown

With the easing of coronavirus restrictions, many businesses are starting to get back to a relatively normal operation. However, you need to do so with caution. We’ve compiled a ten-step plan to keep you on the straight and narrow. What does it include?

Starting point

The following are the ten steps to take to ensure your workplace is COVID-secure:

Step one. Read and understand the guidelines which apply to your sector and your part of the UK (see The next step ).

Step two. Complete a coronavirus risk assessment and then keep it up to date (see The next step ). Once the document is written, you must then implement the findings, e.g. continuation of remote meetings, reorganisation of the workplace, etc.

Tip . Allocate responsibility for checking the detailed requirements weekly and informing key managers. Update the risk assessment as needed, including in the event of a positive case amongst your staff.

Before you open up

Step three. Review building safety before reopening.

Tip. Before reopening buildings or parts of them which may have lain dormant, ensure that your installations such as the fire alarm, fire-fighting equipment, lifts and your water system are safe and ready. Check that statutory inspections and servicing of safety-critical equipment has been undertaken. If hot and cold water systems have not been in regular use, ensure that legionella bacteria are adequately controlled (see The next step ).

Step four. Don’t rush into bringing everyone back on to the premises. If some staff continue to work from home some or all of the time, this will reduce the risk of a coronavirus outbreak and reduce your business risk at the same time. Linked to this is step five which is to consider the additional risk to more vulnerable staff and identify extra control measures. This may include continuing with homeworking for these employees.

Step six. Prevent the virus circulating unseen amongst your workforce by implementing four components: (1) encourage staff to take up the vaccine as it is offered; (2) implement workplace testing, or encourage use of free testing available from the government; (3) ensure staff know the rules about self-isolation when they or a family member has the virus; and (4) report any outbreak in the workplace in accordance with country-specific public health guidance.

Keep it safe

Step seven. Ensure that your workplace has signage to remind staff and visitors of your rules.

Step eight. Keep in place: (1) social distancing; (2)  adequate ventilation; (3) enhanced cleaning; and (4) hand hygiene.

Step nine. Maintain a dialogue with your staff, reminding them that your site safety rules apply even if they have been vaccinated. Beware that complacency may creep in. In addition, talk with staff about mental health and consider what additional support you might provide.

Step ten. Keep up to date with the latest rules for travel both in the UK and abroad, ensuring that your procedures comply with the rules.

Review the latest coronavirus guidelines and update your risk assessment. Check that building installations are safe and that you have sufficient ventilation, cleaning, hand hygiene stations and signage. Ensure the safety of homeworkers, more vulnerable staff and those who need to travel. Finally, use available testing programmes.

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