How Can Office Workplaces Safeguard Returning Staff Members?
With the government urging employees who cannot carry out their roles from home to begin the return to work, many businesses have found themselves required to carry our risk assessments, change workplace layouts and obtain PPE for perhaps the first time. This is especially true in an office environment, where protective equipment is rarely called for and most desks are situated within close proximity.
With the virus still in general circulation and many regional outbreaks being identified as the UK economy begins to gear back up, our tips will help you to safeguard returning staff members in the office environment:
Communication is key
One of the most important parts of getting staff back to work safely is communication. With many staff members feeling anxious about being in close proximity of others for prolonged periods after weeks of lockdown, it is essential that you tell your team what measures you will be putting in place for their protection.
A letter or email detailing the following can help alleviate stress and anxiety when returning to work:
- What PPE will be made available to staff including facemasks, gloves and hand sanitiser and when to use them
- Any changes made to your workplace to adhere to the government guidelines on social distancing such as staggered start times or break times
- What staff need to do if they suspect that they are unwell
- Details of any working processes and procedures that may need to be changed due to COVID-19 such as online-only meetings and additional deep cleaning of workstations
Not only will this help staff to be better prepared and know what to expect when they return to the office, but it will also prove that you are adhering to all government legislation and taking steps to protect your employees from infection.
It’s important to be aware that not all PPE is created equal and there are non-compliant PPE items flooding into the market. Not only do these give staff a false sense of security, but they could also land you in hot water with the law should you knowingly provide it for staff use.
You will also need to ensure that you have good stock levels of all PPE you have to purchase, so be sure to estimate how much you will need during the month and order enough to cover the needs of all staff members including adequate face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer as appropriate.
Teach staff how to use PPE properly
The use of PPE might be completely alien to many of your office-based team which means they’ll need guidelines covering how to use their PPE properly and how often they need to replace it to avoid wastage and stay safe. These guidelines should include details on safe disposal of used PPE to keep the workplace hazard free.
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