How to keep your workplace healthy and hygienic?
If you’ve reopened the doors of your business or are gearing up to start your operations up again, the health and hygiene of your people and workplace will no doubt be high in your mind.
Offices and working environments can be a breeding ground for germs, bacteria and viruses and the COVID-19 pandemic has understandably caused stress for many people, and the thought of going back to work could be making some of your people feel anxious. We’ve put together our top tips for how you can keep your staff happy and healthy and protect
them from the Coronavirus.
ASSESS THE RISKS
As an employer, it is your duty to protect your people. Prior to reopening, the HSE advises carrying out a risk assessment to identify where any hot spots that the virus could be transmitted are. You also want to ensure that your waste management has been reviewed, as measures for managing potentially contaminated waste will need to be taken into account.
DO A DEEP CLEAN
Once you’ve carried out your risk assessment, before you welcome your staff back, it’s time to do a deep clean of all the areas and facilities in your office or factory, including any heating and air conditioning units.
GET A ROUTINE IN PLACE
Don’t forget that COVID-19 can stay on surfaces for up to 72 hours. The HSE states that you need to make sure surfaces are kept clean, so now you’ve done a deep disinfect, it’s important to implement a regular cleaning routine based on good practice, which is at least once a day. As part of this, it’s worth identifying the areas and equipment in your workplace that will be in
continuous use, including desks and workstations; door and cupboard handles; chairs; light switches; phones; computers, mice and keyboards; touchscreens; lift buttons; and bannisters on stairs to ensure these places remain hygienic. Implementing a disinfecting routine can help to eliminate the spread of the virus; this may need to be carried out throughout the working day or
in-between shifts. In shared areas, such as kitchens and staff canteens, special considerations may be needed in terms of hygiene and cleaning. You may want to consider closing
these areas off to avoid cross contamination.
ESTABLISH A SOCIAL DISTANCE FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT
Remember, don’t just think about spaces where COVID-19 could be spread, such as communal areas, work situations, such as your production line, also need to be considered. You may need to re-evaluate your workspace to ensure it is social distance friendly, and your people are kept one metre apart at all times. The HSE suggests using screens to create a physical barrier between your employees, as well as having them work side-by-side rather than face-to-face. The HSE also advises staggering arrival and departure times, so that people are not using entry and exit points at the same time. You might also want to consider implementing rotas or shifts to limit the amount of people in your workplace at any given time. Placing
stickers or tape on the floor one metre apart and signs around the workplace can act as a reminder for your employees to comply with social distancing rules.
ALL HANDS ON DECK
It’s likely that your staff are used to washing their hands for 20 seconds by now. However, there are things that the HSE advises you can do to create a good hygiene practice in your workplace:
• Provide handwashing and drying facilities, so employees can wash their hands as they arrive and leave work (provide hand sanitiser where this is not possible)
• Strategically place hand sanitiser in high-volume areas in addition to bathrooms
• Provide hand sanitiser nearby for people getting in and out of vehicles or handling deliveries, if they are unable to wash their hands
• Set clear guidance for the use and cleaning of toilets, showers and changing facilities to make sure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible
• If equipment like tools or vehicles are shared, then clean them after each use
• Put up posters that remind your staff of the importance of washing their hands (The HSE and WHO both have guides on hand washing that you can print out).
CREATE A TALKING CULTURE
As well as ensuring your people are following your hygiene protocols, it’s just as important to make sure you’re looking after their mental health. Create a culture where your staff feel they can talk to their managers or colleagues if they’re struggling. You could look at carrying out one-to-ones with members of staff as they return, so they know they can express their concerns. Some of your people may feel uncomfortable speaking about how they feel and may want to stay anonymous. You might want to consider adopting an employee assistance programme where your staff can access third-party impartial advice and guidance. For more information on health and hygiene in the workplace, we’d advise vising the HSE website on