Preparing to go back to work during Covid-19

Preparing your workplace for COVID-19 is a tricky matter. Because it is a new virus, more information is coming out nearly daily about the risks, contagion, and dangerous side effects. As lockdowns and quarantines are being lifted and people begin returning to work, preparing your workplace against COVID-19 is absolutely necessary.

Businesses need to say yes to the following three questions before bringing their workforce back into work.

  • Is it essential? If people can continue to work from home, they must continue to do that for the foreseeable future. If they cannot work from home, is their work deemed essential?
  • Is it safe? Employers have a duty of care to identify and manage risks to ensure that the workplace is sufficiently safe to return to. This will involve social distancing measures, potentially reconfiguring workspaces and common areas, possible changes to working hours to reduce risk of exposure, and increased workplace cleaning and sanitation measures.
  • Is it mutually agreed? Research has been carried out which suggests that 4 in 10 people are anxious about returning to work and there are concerns people could be forced back. It is vital that there is a clear dialogue between employers and their people so concerns, such as commuting by public transport, can be raised and individual’s needs and worries taken into account.

The new normal

Before taking any actions it’s important to take a step back and determine what the new normal is for your particular workplace. In our world, one way that is done through producing a risk assessment. Before employees step back through the door it’s important to thoroughly assess the risks. This will help to uncover potential issues and determine how to work around them, ultimately helping to keep your employees safe and well, allow your operations to continue and keep your company compliant.

Read our detailed article on deep cleaning here.

Clean the Workplace

The most important aspect of preparing your workplace for COVID-19 is cleaning the building top to bottom on a daily basis. The WHO states, “Studies have shown that the COVID-19 virus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, less than 4 hours on copper and less than 24 hours on cardboard.” As even asymptomatic people can spread the virus, it is vital that surfaces are cleaned regularly. A basic, household disinfectant can kill the virus, so it’s a benefit to use one frequently.

Cleaning surfaces isn’t enough though. Hands must be washed frequently, and preferably with soap and warm water. Alcohol based hand sanitisers can be used, but soap and water are far more effective at killing germs. Once hands have been washed, be careful not to touch your face, as that can further spread COVID-19 germs. If you have to cough or sneeze, do it in your elbow or a tissue, and wash your hands right away.

Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the Coronavirus pandemic.

These 8 guides cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

Further guidance and information is available from Walker Health and Safety Services.

If you require further information, please contact us, Walker Health and Safety Services.

We worked with a guest blogger on this post. “Holly from The Long Reach“. Thank you, Holly for your time.


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