REVEALED: Five steps to make your workplace Covid-secure!

REVEALED: Five steps to make your workplace Covid-secure!

Health and safety have never been more important than now. Follow these five steps, and you can make your workplace Covid-secure.

1. Risk assessment

As an employer, your duty is to protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from the coronavirus. This is called a Covid-19 risk assessment and it’ll help you manage risk and protect people.

You need to:

  • identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
  • think about who could be at risk
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
  • act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk.

2. Social distancing

Where possible you should keep people at least 1,5 m apart. You must ensure that workers and other people visiting your workplace understand and comply with the measures you put in place. Social distancing should form part of your business’s risk assessment; it is one of the steps needed to help make your workplace Covid-secure.

Some of the measures you can put in place to maintain social distancing include:

  • using floor tape or paint to mark work areas
  • providing signage to remind people to keep a 1,5 to 2 m distance
  • having people working side-by-side rather than face-to-face
  • limiting movement of people who are:
    • rotating between jobs and equipment
    • using lifts and work vehicles
    • in high-traffic areas like corridors, turnstiles and walkways
    • allow only essential trips within buildings and between sites.

 

3. Cleaning, hygiene and handwashing

Frequent handwashing reduces the potential for the coronavirus to spread. It is a critical part of making and keeping your business Covid-secure.

Use signs and posters to encourage your workers to develop a thorough  handwashing technique and to remind them to catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue or arm and avoid touching their faces.

Provide:

  • handwashing facilities with running water, soap and paper towels or hand dryers
  • hand sanitiser at locations in addition to washrooms, such as sanitising stations in shops
  • hand sanitiser nearby for people getting in and out of vehicles or handling deliveries, if they are unable to wash their hands.

When completing your Covid-19 risk assessment, consider whether you need to provide additional handwashing facilities so that people can wash their hands frequently. Consider how often people should wash their hands, depending on where they work and how much contact they have with others. This will also help you to decide if and where you need to provide additional washing facilities. If you cannot provide them, you may need to provide hand sanitiser instead in busy areas.

When you complete your risk assessment, think about:

  • providing handwashing facilities at entry/exit points so people can wash their hands when they arrive and leave work – if this is not possible, provide hand sanitiser
  • where to locate extra handwashing facilities so people can wash their hands frequently
  • making sure your handwashing facilities have running water, soap and paper towels or hand dryers
  • identifying where extra hand sanitiser points are needed, in addition to washing facilities.

 

4. Talk to workers and provide information

Consult and involve people in the steps you’re taking, so you can:

  • explain the changes you’re planning to work safely
  • make sure changes will work and hear their ideas
  • continue to operate your business safely.

You can download an excellent free guide on talking to your workers about Covid here.

5. Don’t forget those who are working from home

As an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers.

When your employee is working from home, permanently or temporarily, you as the employer should consider:

  • How will you keep in touch with them?
  • What work activity will they be doing (and for how long)?
  • Can the work be done safely?
  • Do you need to put control measures in place to protect them?

There will always be greater risks for lone workers with no direct supervision or anyone to help them if things go wrong. Keep in touch with lone workers, including those working from home, and ensure regular contact to make sure they are healthy and safe.

Working at home can cause work-related stress and affect people’s mental health. Being away from managers and colleagues could make it difficult for them to get proper support. So, put procedures in place so you can keep in direct contact with home workers so you can recognise signs of stress as early as possible.

Further reading:

You can also download an extract from the South African Gazette on Consolidated Coronavirus COVID-19 Direction on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Workplaces for free here.

Source: Health and Safety Executive, the government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in Great Britain. It contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence.

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