Implementing a Covid Worksafe plan
In this chapter, we think about the hazards and risks you identified in your risk assessment and use them to create and implement a plan to make your workplace safe. The first step is to:
Control the risk
Consider all elements in your risk assessment one by one. For each of them, you should aim to ELIMINATE the risk whenever possible, by using the preventative measures described in part 1 – examples could include:
- Monitor staff infection levels. Ensure that you have a clear reporting method for any staff that have covid symptoms, and that staff and managers are aware that any suspected cases must remain away from work premises as per government guidelines.
- Introduce a clear social distancing policy that details how staff and customers should act whilst on your premises.
- Eliminate shared equipment: create individual named kit for every worker and specify how this kit is kept apart from others’.
- Introduce clear zoning, so that each worker has their own obvious workspace and customers have clear instructions about where to go and what routes to follow. Enforce this with bold wall and floor signage and visual cues such as colour coding
- Close areas of congregation – this may mean that staff are not able to use on site facilities such as canteens if you are not able to provide adequate space for social distancing.
- Outsource elements of production if you cannot safely undertake them in-house.
- Quarantine non-perishable items that come into your business for a 72 hour period. For perishable items, you could create a suitably temperature controlled quarantine area as long as you are able to operate within use by dates
If you are unable to ELIMINATE any of your identified risks, you must take adequate steps to MINIMISE them. This might include:
- Regular cleaning schedules for equipment that has to be shared by workers, ensuring surfaces are sanitised between each use.
- Wear face coverings in circumstances where social distancing is not possible. This should apply to both staff and customers, except in the case of exemptions
- Provision of shields between workspaces if individuals are not able to work at least 2m apart
- Staggered breaks and work schedules to minimise the number of staff on premises at any point in time.
Handwashing remains one of the single most effective ways of reducing infection levels, so on top of any measures identified above, you must ensure staff have regular assess to clean, hot water and soap and are encouraged to use it on entering the premises and before and after touching surfaces and objects, on top of the normal levels of handwashing required to maintain good hand hygiene. Provide sanitising stations for customers and encourage their use, particularly in businesses where customers do not have access to handwashing facilities. Our guide to handwashing best practice provides a useful reminder of effective technique.
Please note – the lists above are not definitive. It is important that you work through your own environment and processes and think carefully about the risks and appropriate controls for your specific situation.
Record your findings and implement them
Add the control measures to your risk assessment document and put everything in place to ensure they take place.
A vital part of this step is COMMUNICATION. In order for your control measures to be effective, everyone must understand their role in the process and carry it out. The best approach to communication is to start with a discussion that allows workers to ask questions and gain a good understanding of your new control measures. Follow this up with a simple written document that allows them to remind themselves of the process, and use simple, bold signage within the workplace to remind them of the most important details as well as communicating any rules your customers must follow.
During the communication stage, do not be afraid of feedback given by staff – listen to what they have to say. Their understanding of some work processes may be greater than yours, or they may have more effective ideas of how to deal with the risks. It may be useful to revisit your plans in light of feedback – working in a collaborative way that recognises the contribution of others is more likely to result in an effective plan that the whole team can work with.
Review your assessment and update if necessary
In light of the rapidly changing situation with Covid-19, you will need to monitor and review your measures on a regular basis to ensure their effectiveness. Some measures, such as staff absence levels should be monitored on a daily basis, in order to identify and deal with any unusual spikes as quickly as possible.
Observe your control measures in action. Do they eliminate or minimise risk in the way that you intended? Do they introduce other, unintended risks (for instance – does increased handwashing create congregation points at sinks?)?
Keep lines of communication with staff open, seek and listen to their feedback and be prepared to adjust control measures if they are not effective. Whilst this is a period of adjustment and is unsettling for everyone, demonstrating that staff and customer welfare is of genuine concern can have a positive long term effect within your workforce, and protect your future business.
Bear in mind that you may need to adjust your plans according to the situation in your local area. Check the government websites for local restrictions:
- England: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-restrictions-areas-with-an-outbreak-of-coronavirus-covid-19
- Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-local-measures/pages/central-belt/
- Wales: https://gov.wales/local-lockdown
- Northern Ireland: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-and-localised-restrictions