Most restrictions have been lifted so I don’t need to do anything now, right?
No. Despite most of the legal requirements being relaxed you still need to manage the risks of Covid-19 infection in the workplace. The general expectation from the Government and the Health and Safety Executive is that many of the precautions you had in place at the height of the pandemic still need to be in place. These include:
- Anyone with symptoms should not come into the workplace. Instead they should stay away and get a covid PCR test.
- Ventilation – The risk from airborne aerosols increases in poorly ventilated workplaces. Good levels of natural or mechanical ventilation can help to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Open windows and doors where possible and use air conditioning that brings in fresh air from outside.
- Hand washing and sanitiser – Do encourage employees to wash and sanitise their hands regularly. Cleaning hands is an effective way of preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
- Cleaning regimes – High touch areas such as door handles, kitchen appliances, photocopiers, printers, workstations and vehicles etc. should be cleaned regularly to minimise the spread of infectious diseases.
- Social distancing, avoiding face to face work, and face coverings – You may find that some of the measures you had in place still work adequately for you and cause little inconvenience. If so, you may decide to keep these in place.
- Vulnerable workers – You will still need to manage the risks of infection to those workers who may be clinically extremely vulnerable or pregnant for example. Measures will need to be risk assessed and discussed with the individual to ensure their safety in the workplace.
Whatever you decide is right for your workplace, you will need to carefully consider the risks to your employees and update your procedures and risk assessments accordingly. All the controls mentioned above will limit the spread of all infectious diseases including colds and flu so there may be benefits in a general reduction of sickness absence in the company.
If you have any questions or need more help, contact us on 01302 341344.
By Ainslie Johnson CMIOSH – Risk Consultant