General

Items such as chargers, stationary or other items run the risk of potentially carrying infected particles from the home to the workplace or the other way around.

Having a suitable emergency response plan in place will allow the organization to be prepared to carry out a clean & disinfect of potentially contaminated areas and prevent the further spreading of the Virus.

Staff

Measure the distance between desks and ensure it allows for at least 2 meters distance in order to allow sufficient room for staff to socially distance while working. Other things to consider might be allowing temporary changes in the workplace, for example allowing staff to work in singular offices rather than open plan offices, installation of privacy screens as examples.

This would be in order to prevent staff arriving and staff leaving coming into contact and decreases the risk of cross contamination. For example, if a staff member arriving had COVID-19 but was asymptomatic at this stage came into contact with a staff member who was leaving they could potentially pass on the virus by sharing the air space.

It is important that any health screening questions are solely about COVID-19 or symptoms relating to COVID-19.

Visitors & Contractors

This could simply be a list of “Rules” or a certain procedure you wish for the contractor to follow while on-site.

An essential visitor/contractor might be a delivery of business essential goods, a service/repair to a business-critical system (Fire alarm, Sprinkler system etc) or someone required to carry out some emergency maintenance.

A self-assessment questionnaire should ask questions such as “Have you or any employees who are coming to site have had any symptoms of COVID-19 within the last 14 days?”, “Have you come into contact with anyone who has potentially had COVID-19 within the last 14 days?”.

This could be a dedicated area for deliveries/collections, there could be additional control measures for staff who enter or work in this area, such as a regular cleaning & disinfecting of equipment, use of protective gloves.

For example, delivery notes could be sent electronically by email, electronic signatures instead of physical signatures and pictures taken of items as proof of delivery.

Hygiene & Housekeeping

The focus of this toolbox talk should be about correct hand washing procedures, correct use of PPE, use of antibacterial sprays, wipes etc.

The frequency of deep cleans will depend a number of factors such as the nature of the business, levels of staff, whether members of the public frequent the business etc. An office space well spread out with few members of staff would need less frequent deep cleaning then a shop or commercial premises that has a high level of members of the public entering and exiting.

An example of a high touch point would be item/object that comes into frequent contact with a person’s hand/arms, such as a door handle, restroom sink tap, toilet seat, keypad access system.

Examples of such posters can be found on the Public Health England website.

https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/

Some measures can be straight forward such as purchasing additional stationary/tools or designating a member of staff who will answer the telephone. If devices have to be shared, for example a touch screen on a control system then extra pre-cautions should be taken such as use of disposable gloves and regular cleaning & disinfecting after use.

This could be achieved by informing staff as part of a toolbox talk and providing each desk/workstation with a set of anti-bacteria wipes/spray.

Prominent locations would be main entrances and exits, highly used touchpoints (Doorways etc) in break rooms, kitchens, by communal printers etc.

Personal Protective Equipment

The types of PPE required will depend on the nature of the business but might include items such as

  • Face Masks/surgical masks
  • Respirators (Powered/non-powered)
  • Disposable Gloves Nitrile/Latex
  • Visors/Face shields
  • Aprons & Coveralls

This can be confirmed with your chosen supplier(s) take into account number of staff who require PPE, lead times of PPE, and frequency of use/change.

Training on PPE should focus on its intended use, how to correctly put items on & off, the order in which to put items on and off (when using multiple items of PPE), the limitations of PPE and the arrangements for cleaning & maintenance of PPE (In regards to re-usable items)

Depending on size & scope of business storage for PPE might be in individual lockers, or storage boxes/bags for PPE. Items such as visors can be cleaned using anti bacteria wipes alongside traditional cleaning methods, always follow the manufacturers guidance.

Public Facing Roles

This could be installation of clear plastic splash screens by tills or other customer facing areas, only allowing re-stocking to be undertaken outside of normal opening hours will reduce the risk of staff being exposed to COVID-19. Where splash screens are installed, they should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.

Installation of signage stating the maximum number of person(s) allowed at any one time or a one in, one out policy.

Contactless payment, or pre-payment significantly reduces the likelihood of staff and members of the public coming into contact with contaminated surfaces. Card machines should be treated as high touch points and be cleaned on a regular basis.

Social distancing measures can be achieved by using floor marking stickers, hazard tape, directional arrows or a combination of all.

Canteens & Breakrooms

The number of people who visit canteens or breakrooms should be reduced. For example, staggered breaks through the day as opposed to all staff taking lunch breaks at the same time, mark floors so staff can keep two meters apart, removing some seating & tables to allow for more social distancing between staff.

This is to prevent contaminated cups/plates, cutlery etc from being circulated prior to cleaning & disinfecting.

Items such as kettles, taps & coffee machines are likely to be some of the areas that come into the highest contact with staff, so these areas should be cleaned prior to use, installation of signage awareness posters in prominent areas to remind staff of this.

Insulated bags & flasks would allow staff’s lunch to remain at a suitable temperature and reduce the risk of spreading contamination rather than use of communal fridges.

Employee Consultation

Two-way communication with employees is key and your employees might have suggestions that you’ve not considered as your workforce are your experts.

Useful links

Updates from the Department of Health

https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/c36c85-covid-19-coronavirus/

https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/coronavirus.html

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre

https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/

On Business Continuity Planning

https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Business-Continuity-Planning-A-checklist-of-Preparatory-Actions-in-Responding-to-the-COVID-19-Outbreak.html

Contact the PPE Company Care team Today

Occupational Health and Employee Assistance Programmes are essential tools to effectively manage absence in the workplace, to support staff and to add value to your business. We can provide you with the details of Health Assured, a company who can provide such services. For further information please speak to your HR Expert and visit:

https://www.healthassured.org/ie