As we approach the fourth and final phase of the lockdown many more businesses will be reopening. But how much responsibility do employers hold?
For businesses that have already reopened, the new ‘normal’ is very different. New return to work protocols and practices such as regular cleaning, physical distancing and, if necessary, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be implemented.
What are the mandatory and recommended workplace measures?
Face masks in the workplace
The use and supply of face masks in the workplace is not a mandatory measure. However, it’s important to assess your own workplace with measures set out in the Return to Work Safely Protocol. For example, your employees may work closely together or share a small space, such as a meeting room. If you’re unable to adhere to physical distancing rules, the use of face masks may be necessary.
Other preventative measures
The use of face masks isn’t the only preventative measure to consider implementing in the workplace. The Return to Work Safely Protocol does state that physical distancing and good hand/respiratory hygiene will also help in reducing the transmission of Covid-19. The measures below are the most important ones to take to reduce the risk of infection.
Appropriate facilities to allow employees to practice proper hand hygiene must be provided. Employees must be instructed on how to effectively wash their hands and display posters in appropriate areas to remind employees of the practice.
Physical distancing could be the greatest challenge you face. For instance, handshakes are forbidden. If office work is essential for your business, it must comply with the two-metre physical distancing requirement.
If you’re unable to put a two-metre separation between employees, physical barriers may need to be put in place. It would also be recommended to hold meetings remotely and stagger shifts to adhere to physical distancing requirements.
Employees must be provided with tissues and bins for the disposal of used tissues. These should also be emptied regularly. Instruction on good respiratory etiquette must be provided to all employees.