Watch the webinar recording below:
- Welcome Message: 00:00 - 02:45
- Introduction to Panellists: 02:45 - 07:50
- How businesses have responded to COVID-19: 07:50 - 22:36
- Using technology to manage the impact of COVID-19: 22:36 - 25:50
- Legislation and operating across different countries: 25:50 - 28:52
- The panellists plans for a gradual Return to Work scenario: 28:52 - 42:12
- Q&A session: 42:12 - 56:17
- Sign-off: 56:17 - 57:08
6 Key Takeaways from the webinar:
1) Planning work
Plan work to have fewer people in the workplace at any one time. This might be achieved by running extra shifts. Ideally, these should be planned in cohorts, with the same group of people working together each day.
If other protective measures fail and several people on a shift are infected, this will limit the impact to one cohort. Allow time between shifts to clean anything that might have been touched by one shift before the next shift arrives, in addition to any normal end-of-shift cleaning and inspection.
2) Travelling to work
Travel policies to encourage public transport and lift shares to protect the environment have moved in favour of individual journeys by car to protect against contamination. You might need to make additional space available for parking as a result. Where public transport is necessary, plan shifts so that staff can travel at quieter times of day.
Employees should be reassured that if they decide not to come to work because they have symptoms of COVID-19, or because they have been exposed to someone else with the virus, they will not be penalised.
3) Arrival at work
If everyone uses the same entrance to a workplace, the potential for cross-contamination between employees increases. If you have more than one entrance available, assign groups of workers to a specific entrance, with defined routes to their workplace to limit the cross-over.
Minimise touch points with a hands-free approach, for example wedging entrance doors open. Make sure there are arrangements to shut doors in the event of a fire.
Additional cleaning can be planned for entrances and exits, and hand-washing or sanitising stations provided.
As courts have ruled time after time, employers with no evidence that staff have been trained in the use of safety controls are found to have failed, even if there are some nicely written procedures in a drawer. You might ask your staff to carry out online learning before they return to work, or you might plan an induction on their first shift back.
Training should reinforce existing rules on incident reporting, as it applies in the new environment. Remember too that if they have been off work for a while, they might need some refresher training.
5) Staying safe while working
If you can achieve 2 metre distancing, people might still need some reminders. Footprints on the floor, or marks on the wall are more effective than posters. If you can’t get the job done working 2 metres apart, you need to do something else.
Most of us have seen the bank-teller like barriers installed in supermarkets, protecting checkout staff from customers. Similar barriers can be used on production lines and other workplaces where people need to stand closer.
Although collective protective measures are more effective than personal protective equipment (PPE), face masks might be needed where protection can’t be provided any other way.
If you swap workers on equipment without any other hygiene measures, the benefits of your 2m distancing could be lost. Tools and even buttons on machinery should be cleaned in between users, accompanied by frequent hand washing or sanitising.
6) Staying safe during breaks
All the precautions in place for working could amount to nothing if people take their breaks in a crowded portacabin. Make it easy for people to stay separated. Rather than signs telling people to sit one per table, only provide seats where people can maintain their distance.
To reduce the number of people needing to use a break area, stagger the breaks (with cleaning in between) and use other areas of the workplace. You could use outdoor areas, and if administrative employees are working from home, empty offices.
There is a lot of conflicting advice about what is and isn’t allowed, so study carefully the advice from your government and industry bodies. For example:
- The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) provides guidance and checklists across industry, and the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) have construction specific guidance.
- The UK Government website has general and sector specific guidance for businesses. The Food and Drink Federation have more detailed advice for their members.
If you’re running a business around COVID-19 requirements, revised risk assessments are going to mean revised productivity levels.
Make sure suppliers, clients, customers and staff understand that things will be different – probably slower, probably more expensive. Without revised targets, it is unlikely you’ll be able to apply your new risk assessments.