As the pandemic continues, employers are having to adapt their working environments to manage the risk posed by coronavirus, with essential businesses remaining open and operational. Maintaining COVID compliance in the workplace is vital and the HSE are carrying out spot checks and inspections to ensure these companies are COVID-secure. Learning how to prepare for COVID secure inspections will enable your business to run smoothly, safely and efficiently whilst protecting your staff and promoting a safe environment.
As an employer, you must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus. This is called a COVID-19 risk assessment and it’ll help you manage risk and protect people. You must:
- 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
Where possible you should keep people 2 metres apart. If this is not viable, keeping 1 metre apart with risk mitigation is acceptable and 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 and is one of the steps needed to 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 2 m distance
- Having people working side-by-side rather than face-to-face
- Limiting movement of people:
- Rotating between jobs and equipment
Cleaning, hygiene and handwashing
Keeping your workplace clean and frequent handwashing reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread. It is a critical part of making and keeping your business COVID secure. Use signs and posters to help your workers practice good handwashing technique and to remind them to catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue or arm and avoid touching their faces. You should 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
Ventilation and air conditioning
Good ventilation (including air conditioning) can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. There are simple steps you can take to improve ventilation while maintaining a comfortable temperature in your workplace which can prepare for COVID secure inspections. The law requires employers to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace and this has not changed during the pandemic. Providing adequate ventilation does not mean that workplaces have to be cold, good ventilation is a balance between making sure workplaces are warm but keeping a flow of air going through an area.
Simple steps, such as partially opening windows, can be taken to ensure ventilation is maintained. Natural ventilation can be used with heating systems to maintain a reasonable temperature in the workplace.
For further information on how to prepare for COVID secure inspections please contact us here.