As the UK takes the first steps out of lockdown, many businesses and industries are beginning to restart. However, as we move into this next phase and premises begin to reopen, is important to consider the new health and safety risks that businesses might face.
In a short time, COVID-19 drastically changed the world, and with it the way that we all work – from full teams working remotely, to implementing social-distancing measures on site. It has also brought about many operational changes that will undoubtedly have an impact on the way that offices, facilities and workspaces operate for a long time to come, even as restrictions begin to lift. It is vital therefore that we continue to take the precautions necessary to limit the spread of the virus.
So, to help you get restart ready, here are some key considerations to help keep your employees and operations safe, and minimise health and safety risks as we navigate the ‘new normal’.
Decontaminate and protect against COVID-19
In workplaces, specialist services are now needed to disinfect and protect surfaces against COVID‑19. Unfortunately, however, conventional deep cleaning and disinfection methods offer no lasting protection against pathogens, leaving them susceptible almost immediately after treatment. Therefore, look for a professional decontamination service with the skills and expertise to combat this threat.
RSK Response can deliver professional COVID-19 decontamination for your office, facility, worksite, vehicles, plant or equipment using innovative disinfectant products and the latest application technologies. Unlike conventional deep-cleaning practices, we can offer ongoing protection on all treated surfaces for up to 30 days to help bolster the confidence of colleagues and visitors.
Implement COVID-19 risk assessments, procedures and strategies
Analyse your workplace in terms of size and location to identify the best means of reducing the risks from COVID-19 and to maintain 2-m social distancing where possible. This could include considering how employees flow through buildings; cleaning strategies; possible shift-pattern changes to reduce occupancy numbers; or modification of office and building layouts. If required, CAD drawing services can be used for building layout plans.
For specialist assistance, RSK’s team of health and safety professionals can produce bespoke COVID-19 risk assessments and procedures tailored to all types of premises. These will include thorough knowledge of UK Government industry-specific COVID-19 guidance documents for industries such as retail, logistics, manufacturing and construction, as well as the guidance for office environments.
Review or develop your occupational health and safety plans, policies and procedures
This could include general and work-related risk assessments, demarcation of staff routes, use of screens, safe working distances, display screen equipment assessments, review of personal protective equipment, and review of any outstanding tests not conducted during lockdown, such as for fire alarms, smash points, sprinklers and emergency lighting.
Check your water hygiene
Any organisation can be affected by legionnaires’ disease, especially if buildings have been left unattended or unoccupied, or systems have not been subject to regular maintenance because of the COVID-19 pandemic or other operational reasons. Ensure that your water systems (taps, shower heads, etc.) and pipework are assessed prior to reoccupation, particularly if they have been left standing for prolonged periods of time. RSK has a dedicated legionella business unit that can protect your business against an outbreak by providing a thorough risk assessment and offering guidance to keep you safe and compliant.
Manage your waste materials
During a normal working day, employees will generate a wide variety of wastes. These will often depend on the activities undertaken. As an employer you will usually provide facilities where this waste can be disposed of.
Unless a case of COVID-19 is suspected, the management of waste should continue as normal in most cases. However, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all released their own guidance on how businesses should manage waste during the pandemic, so you may need to review and amend your waste management policies, procedures and communications. RSK can provide support for ensuring compliance with the principles of the issued guidance, including items such as frequency of cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces, dealing with waste generated during such cleaning activities, storage and disposal.
Assess the condition of your building or workplace
If you have buildings that were unoccupied for some time during the coronavirus pandemic, or have dilapidation issues, it is important to complete a building survey and condition assessment before reoccupying the space. Similarly, you might want to complete a workplace audit and inspection. RSK can provide surveys, health and safety audits and inspection services to ensure that your workplace remains safe.
Implement bespoke employee EHS training
As we return to work in shared environments where social distancing considerations and operational controls need to be incorporated into daily activities, consider arranging new environmental health and safety training for your employees. RSK’s bespoke and accredited training courses, for example, can take the core principles of any health and safety subject and tailor them to your company by combining management system documents, procedures and specific organisational arrangements.
During the current COVID-19 crisis, RSK’s health and safety teams and RSK Response have been supporting clients by responding immediately to COVID-19 issues and are on hand to support you and your business with any of the services described above, and others, to support office/facility restarts, decontamination and all health and safety issues.
For more information, or to speak with one of our professionals, please contact