New ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines are available to UK employers to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible.
This follows the Prime Minister's message ‘Staying alert and safe (social distancing)’ in a bid to beat the virus and restart the economy, to protect jobs, restore people’s livelihoods and fund the country’s vital public services. So, where do you start?
Here, at Alcumus, we are focussing on what we do best: enabling our clients to mitigate risk and become healthier, safer and stronger. So, in this post, we will address the best way to stay alert and bring your people back to the office safely – if that is what you choose to do.
Duty of care
It is essential to recognise that there will be a variety of reactions from your employees regarding the idea of going back to work. You will also have other individual issues to consider: including those who fit inside the Government’s shielding criteria, people whose mental health has been adversely affected by the lockdown or those who are isolating as a result of contracting or living with someone with the Coronavirus.
So, in your preparations and planning for reopening your workplace; the underlying principle should be ensuring your staff feel like their wellbeing is your number one priority. This is key because if your most valuable asset (your employees) are fully behind your plan, everyone will fully engage in making the rules work. While this has been a testing time for businesses and their people alike, smart employers will recognise that adversity is always a great opportunity to build trust and loyalty. Do not underestimate the value of putting your people first when striving to meet legislative and other health and safety targets.
Health and Safety within the new normal
It seems like everyone is asking what the new normal will look like: and a very different working landscape is undoubtedly taking shape for all of us. The key to transitioning any change is to employ strong management; and that, in turn, relies on capturing and understanding the available data.
To do this, you will need to employ a range of Risk Assessment strategies, including the following:
- Investigating individual cases to identify additional support (transport, counselling, testing, self-assessment, return from furlough, etc) that may be required
- Ensuring workplaces are modified to meet new procedures: sufficient social spacing, ventilation, using lifts and corridors regulations, canteen guidelines, and training to help staff manage the changes
- Working from home more often is likely to become a feature of the new normal for many employees. And while the lockdown meant making do with quick fixes in the first instance, a long-term strategy will need to be developed to manage this in the future: health and safety, environment, accessibility and mental health support
It is worth noting at this point that the Government has issued a strong ‘recommendation’ around the need to submit a full Risk Assessment for companies employing more than 50 people. The official statement was in direct reference to COVID-19 and went something like this: “You should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website: and we would expect all employers with over 50 workers to do so.”
We have devised a 5-step plan to help our clients get back to work safely. It can be used in isolation, as a template for any business, but works best alongside a data and project management system such as Info Exchange. This will enable you to collect and analyse all the relevant staff and workplace information in one place: and then make concise and accurate commercial decisions based on facts, not best-guess hopes.
Alcumus’ 5-Step Back to Work plan
- Inspection: a comprehensive examination of the current state of the workplace
- Risk Assessment: identify the specific risks (people, procedure and environment) highlighted by the inspection
- Action Plan: devise a plan for how to manage the various risks you have identified
- Communicate: inform your staff of the plan (to build confidence and support among those who need to follow it)
- Review and Monitor: as per the Government’s ‘stay alert’ message: you must pay attention to the daily data and analysis that your system feeds back to you and react and adjust your strategy accordingly.
For more information on how Info Exchange can help your business through COVID-19, please get in touch.