Part 2 - Key hygiene and social distancing guidelines and considerations for Covid-19.
In part 2 of the blog series, we will look at workplace hygiene and social distancing guidelines, in the context of working at height to help you control the risks introduced by COVID-19 whilst ensuring that your employees are safeguarded as they prepare your workplace and keep your business or organisation operational during these challenging times.
General workplace hygiene and social distancing - compliance with government guidelines
After consultation with executives, trade bodies and unions, draft documents from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have been released which state extra cleaning should be introduced into workplaces and the use of protective equipment should be considered where maintaining a distance of two metres between workers is not possible.
The documents suggest that companies will have to draw up a Covid-19 “risk assessment” before returning to work.
In part one of this blog series, we looked at planning and risk assessments in light of COVID-19 within the context of working at height.
Implementing hygiene and social distancing considerations for Covid-19
1. Preparing to reopen your workplace
The first step is to consider what are the necessary hygiene tasks that you may need to undertake to prepare to reopen your building or site and identify which tasks will be undertaken at height.
This may include sanitisation and deep cleaning.
The next step is to consider the frequency of and duration of the cleaning tasks required on an ongoing basis, including equipment and machinery, etc.
This needs to be included in your working at height risk assessments before returning to work.
Any work at height requires a safe system of work based on a risk assessment. Where this work is considered essential, your risk assessment must include the additional hygiene considerations in light of the Coronavirus.
Key areas of hygiene to be reviewed:
1. Environment hygiene
This includes building, infrastructure, heating and ventilation systems.
2. Equipment hygiene
This includes production line, machinery and work equipment. Risk assessments will identify the need for any training or additional equipment.
3. People hygiene
Employees, customers, contractors and visitors all require clear hygiene instructions. Reinforcement of these will create a positive personal hygiene culture over time.
All of the above need to be reviewed in terms of the tasks time and frequency - any increase in time and/or frequency will mean you need to reassess the equipment you are using.
Planning and taking action now to prepare will help to protect your employees and your organisation when you are ready to return to work.
Things are changing fast and it’s essential that you educate and communicate with all staff members, including keeping them updated with the latest advice and guidance, helping to create a positive culture.
Stay informed and follow the latest advice given by your industry associated trade bodies and unions for the guidance specific to your sector on COVID- 19 compliance. They are best placed to advise you on what steps you need to take.