The number one priority for employers at the moment should be the health and safety of their employees and reducing their workers to the exposure of the Coronavirus. How to do this will very much depend on the type of business you run and where the majority of your staff are based, i.e., office or warehouse. Irrespective of the work setting, there are some critical steps that all employers can take to ensure that employees are kept safe.
Employees should be encouraged to wash their hands regularly. Ensure you have handwashing stations in multiple places around the workplace to help achieve this. Having hand sanitisers at the entrance and exit points, at desks, workstations, and around communal areas such as kitchens will encourage people to keep their hands clean.
Encourage your employees to keep the workplace clean. You can do this by keeping cleaning products such as wipes and antiviral sprays in spaces spread throughout the place of work. Cleaning could also be done at more regular intervals to reduce the virus’s threat of staying on surfaces. How frequently employers clean their workplace will be dependant on their line of work and whether they come into regular contact with contractors or members of the public.
As a rule, employers should ensure that frequently touched surfaces, such as communal kitchen appliances, bathrooms, and door handles, are cleaned regularly throughout the day to reduce transmission risk.
Many public-facing businesses have successfully integrated social distancing into their company by placing markers on the floor, directing a one-way flow of people. Encouraging your employees to engage in desirable behaviour like handwashing and social distancing – such as giving regular praise and thanks – can reinforce these behaviours. The science shows that more employees practicing these behaviours will have a knock-on effect on the rest of the group.
Some employers are more likely than others to require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). For example, staff working with the public (nurses, doctors, shop assistants, retail). Unless stated by law to use it, it is up to employers whether they make it mandatory for employees to wear Personal Protective Equipment, such as gloves, face shields, and face masks. Some employees may feel safer wearing PPE while in the office, for example. In contrast, others might prefer not to wear any.
If you are in any doubt about whether it is safe to put employees in a particular situation, it is best not to do so. If you have a vulnerable employee, it is best where possible to keep them out of the workspace or, if that isn’t possible, to place them on furlough so that you can make special arrangements in ensuring the safety of this employee.
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