Deciphering the Government’s advice for a safe office environment during COVID-19
Australasian Recruitment Company has been working alongside many of our clients to assist in ensuring that the workplace is safe for the return of our temporary workers.
Here are the key takeaways from the government’s advice, which you can find in full at:
The first stage is to conduct a risk assessment “identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace”.
“Employers have a duty to consult their people on health and safety”. This makes sense – after all it is the employees who best understand the risks and who can highlight health and safety issues. The employer’s objective is “to reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures in order of priority”.
Work through these steps in order:
1. Increase the frequency of hand-washing and surface cleaning.
2. Make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines (keeping people two metres apart wherever possible) – remembering entrances, exits, walkways. Set up a ‘one-way’ system.
3. Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should:
- Keep the activity time involved as short as possible
- Use screens or barriers to separate people from each other
- Use back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
4. Other suggested ideas include staggering arrival and departure times, recommending staff keep their belongings at their own desk as opposed to a shared environment, using markings to show direction and distancing, providing hand sanitiser at entry and exit points, and reducing shared use of touch-based devices (such as a printer).
5. There should be minimal, if any, hot-desking and face-to-face meetings should be a last resort.
6. Ventilation in all areas of the building should be checked and windows and doors should be kept open / opened regularly throughout the day.
7. Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between different people’s uses. People should clean their own desk areas at the beginning, middle and end of each day.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
When managing the risk of COVID-19, the government advice is that additional PPE beyond what you usually wear in the office is not beneficial.
Returning to Work communication
Provide clear, consistent and regular communication to improve understanding and consistency of ways of working. Start by developing communication and training materials for workers prior to their return to the office, especially around new procedures for arrival at work.
And finally, a message from us…
Several weeks in lockdown has felt like several months for many people. Despite the above guidelines appearing onerous and certainly as few would ever have envisaged, they are for most offices achievable. The guidelines are also a sign that we are moving from ‘Response to Recovery’. They are a step in the right direction and they show the first signs of London and the UK truly getting back to full-time work – not just from home, but also at their office.
Australasian Recruitment Company has a track record, built over 17 years, of helping London’s premier employers hire 1000+ employees on an annual basis. Call us when you need us on 020 7625 3300.
Take care, stay safe and keep positive!
Australasian Recruitment Company