COVID-19 SECURE – UK GOVERNMENT RELEASES GUIDELINES FOR SAFE RETURN TO WORK

The Covid-19 Secure guidelines released by the UK government on 11 May 2020 include 8 sets of guidelines for different sectors. These are guidelines providing steps which “will usually be needed”– they provide a good vision for how to implement the right safety measures and redesign our workplaces for the return to work.

We’ve reviewed the suggested steps for office and group working settings to see the key themes arising from the government report which was prepared in consultation with various authorities and experts including health and safety authorities, medical and employer & worker representatives. (We’d recommend reviewing the full report and different advice for different sectors here)

The general overall steps are

  • Employers are asked to facilitate employees to work from home where possible
  • Workplaces which are permitted to open and can open safely should do and those employees should return to work
  • Employers (>50 employees)should complete Covid-19 risk assessments & publish these on their websites

And looking at specific areas of adaption:

Traffic and occupancy management

  • Workspaces should be redesigned to maintain 2 meter distances. For example employers should look at staggered start & finish times, 1 way walk throughs, additional parking, more entrances/exits
  • Reducing max occupancy for lifts, and providing hand sanitiser at lifts
  • Maintaining Social Distancing through signage and floor markings
  • Reduce the number of meetings and provide hand sanitiser in meeting rooms
  • Back to back or side to side working
  • Create barriers in shared spaces, using desk screens, and screens to protect reception staff
  • Create fixed teams minimising number of people in contact

Breaks and break spaces

  • Look at using spaces for safe breaks and creating additional break spaces for smaller groups
  • Provide packaged meals or equivalent to avoid opening staff canteens fully
  • Change seating layouts in break rooms

Hand & Office Hygiene

  • More frequent cleaning in particular in high contact areas
  • Handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points
  • Avoid touch based security devices such as key pads/ provide alternatives
  • Hand sanitiser in multiple locations and increased hand drying facilities eg paper towels or dryers
  • Increased hand washing for workers handling goods and hand sanitiser where that’s not possible

Communications and signage

  • Employers need to display the provided notice that Covid-19 Secure guidelines have been followed
  • Providing clear and consistent communication for employees remembering mental health and wellbeing at this time also

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