Since the government announced the nations’ phased return to work, there has been a flurry of activity on how to manage that safely. There’s plenty of advice doing the rounds, but most of us don’t want to be trawling the internet for decent guidance on the return to work steps we can implement for our workforce.
But the speed at which the government has authorised the return to work in some industries has thrown them a curveball or two as they try to quickly ramp up to facilitate that.
Opening The Doors Of Industry Safely
If you’re in some sectors of construction and manufacturing, you’ve now been given the all-clear to open your doors again, but you want to be confident you are ‘all clear’ – or at the very least there’s a very well documented plan for your workforce to follow…
We’re hearing for the use of ‘Common Sense’ to be applied, but if it were that simple, there wouldn’t have been regulatory bodies or reams of Health and Safety guidance in the construction industry before the pandemic happened.
Here are the main areas to focus on are – and yes we may have played with this a little to help you remember, using our own acronym…
Metres & Masks – maintain the social distancing rules wherever possible or cover-up.
Assess – assess the risks via formal and well-documented risk assessments.
Reduce the spread – send anyone home straight away and document their movements.
Test – test if possible to ensure prompt diagnosis of cases or for a scale of your problem.
Educate – inform everyone of confirmed cases and ensure protocol to follow is understood.
Keep records – if your cases escalate and it’s not all documented – you’ll be in hot water!
Maintain Your Distance or Wear A Mask
Wherever possible, workers should socially distance, but the logistics of that are not always simple. The easiest way to think of this is what is the easiest way to reduce face to face interaction?
- Introduce one way systems in heavy footfall areas.
- If people are in close proximity, encourage them to sit back to back or face away from each other if they can.
- Stagger break times and start and finish times to minimise the stampede at the start and end of the day, as well as reduce the pressure of your environment to house your total workforce at the same time.
- Use the Social Distancing tape provided in our PPE kit to mark out clear boundaries for workers to adhere to in busier areas.
Where this isn’t possible, masks should be worn. Our PPE Pack contains 100 x Type II Surgical Face Masks to EN 14683 Standard, which can help to limit the transmission of Coronavirus so they are ideal for use in critical infection control zones.
They are made of good quality non-woven fibre fabric with an elastic ear-loop and their one size fits most people. They are soft, comfortable and breathable, meaning that not only are they suitable for reducing the spread of viruses and infections, but they will also protect you from dust, germs, smoke, pollution, ash, and pollen – ideal for dusty construction sites or factories.
Assess Your Risks
If workers are exposed to COVID-19 – make sure they know what to do and how they could easily spread the infection if not careful. Conduct full risk assessments of where there are high traffic areas and look at how groups of people enter and exit the premises. Can more exit and entrance points be introduced? Where are there many ‘touchpoints’ such as metal door handles – clear disinfecting and deep cleansing schedules will need to be created and documented.
Here are some of the considerations we previously shared on minimising risks…
- Employees should not share headsets or other objects that are near the mouth or nose.
- Employers should increase the frequency of cleaning commonly touched surfaces.
- Employees and employers should consider pilot testing the use of face masks to ensure they do not interfere with work assignments.
- Employers should work with facility maintenance staff to increase air exchanges in the room.
- Employees should physically distance when they take breaks together.
- Stagger breaks and don’t congregate in the break room.
- Don’t share food or utensils.
Reduce Your Spread
Besides the obvious instructions such as sending workers with suspected or confirmed cases home, there are plenty of measures your workforce can take to help themselves to stay safe.
Simple protective measures can make a world of difference – our PPE Pack is made up of the protective equipment most working environments will need to minimise viral spread risks in the workplace
What’s in the Martek PPE pack?
Each pack is tailored to your needs and completely customisable, allowing you to choose the PPE equipment most essential to your specific requirements and quantities.
Just as an example, the original Coronavirus Back To Work PPE Pack was put together to cover the basic needs of most workplaces and contains:
- Type II Surgical Face Masks
- Disposable Textured Examination Gloves
- Hand Sanitiser Gel (500/100ml)
- Wrap-Around Face Shield
- Infrared Hands-Free Thermometer
- Social Distancing Tape
Obviously we’re going to say this but you have to be extra vigilant at the moment on where you source your testing kits from as there are so many fake test kits available. Our Coronasafe Test Kits come in two forms – we have both antibody tests, and PCR (swab) tests available to help you make informed decisions on the wellbeing of your staff.
Testing is one of the main processes that could keep your facility running smoothly. In as little as ten minutes, you could know whether you’re dealing with confirmed cases or false alarms which could be what keeps your processes moving when you know exactly who to remove from the workforce to keep everyone safe.
Using tape to clearly mark out routes or social distancing boundaries, and encouraging staff to use gloves and sanitise hands regularly would break the back of keeping an element of control over the spread of the virus.
Not managing these simple tasks could be the difference between one or two cases being contained and isolated quickly, or the viral infection contaminating much of the working environment. Disinfecting hands and surfaces regularly is essential in minimising contamination.
There also needs to be a very clearly documented process for employees to follow should any cases be suspected. This article covers processes to follow and inform your staff should confirmed cases arise.
Employers will need to prove that all workers are briefed and familiarised with current processes. Staff will need to be informed at all times of suspected cases and exposure to any workers who are infected with the virus will need to be well documented. We’ve put together a handy staff log to help you keep on top of all this.
Logs should be kept by designated personnel of the measures taken with all viral cases and the action the collective workers then took. It is the employers’ responsibility to ensure recommendations such as these in the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 are implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace as far as possible.
It is too easy to forget in the day to day running of a business, that the safety of workers on site is the employers’ basic duty. Allowing a Coronavirus infection to run amok in your workplace with no protocol or protection in place is an invitation for legislative trouble.
Need Some Help You Can Trust?
Whatever your needs, our team have you covered. Your workers need to be protected when they return to work and Martek Lifecare has a range of PPE available for you. We have a much wider range than we’ve shared here, so please do get in touch if you’d like to know your options on protecting your staff.
We’re working with some companies of all sizes – from small operations to major employers to put a safety and testing infrastructure in place quickly.
Whatever your requirement, get in touch today and a member of the team will be able to guide you through the available options and get you all confidently kitted out so your workforce is all safe as can be.