Returning safely to the workplace

As we recover from COVID-19 and look to go back to the work place, it is vital we do what we can to return to a safe environment.

Consider the following steps and make sure you do what you can to keep your workplace safe and help reduce further impact and absence.

Contact Environmental Health for more advice:

1. Prepare a safe workplace

On returning to work make sure all your utilities are all safe and operating correctly. If your water system has been static you may need consider the risk of legionella or other water contamination.

Check for out of date products, gas concerns, security lighting and any setting or timers.

2. Organise and clean

Your premises is likely to need a deep clean before it fully opens.

Unhygienic surfaces attract germs, vermin and dust. This can be very harmful, triggering dust related illness like asthma or present a serious fire risk.

A build-up of certain types of dust can combust especially when temperature, ventilation and usage changes.

Take the opportunity to review your cleaning schedule and enhance cleaning practices, like wiping down equipment and tools as well as surfaces.

3. Look after your workforce

It is important you know if everyone is mentally and physically fit to return to work. They may have or know someone who has been seriously affected by COVID 19. Their mental or financial health could be suffering following the lockdown and may need time to adapt to the return.

Skills and tasks may take time to return and there could be a period of adjustment. The speed and use of tools and equipment like the use of sharps, forklifts and manual handling tasks will initially have an increased risk.

4. Look forward and prevent

Reducing the risk from touching points like installing foot pedal bins, automatic doors and lights will help lower cross infections.

Reminding employees of good hygiene protocols and introducing sanitising stations at high unavoidable areas like entry points (lifts) or shared workspaces will also help reduce the risk.

Look to improve distancing between workstations or alternative working arrangements.

5. Manage and maintain your equipment

It is important any equipment you use can be relied on when you return to work. Check initial procedures, manufactures information and industry guidance. This will help you make sure your equipment is safe and ready to use. Electrical equipment, mechanical parts, seals, lubricants and batteries can all deteriorate when not in use.

Statutory requirements should (if safe to do so) not been affected by the lockdown but check. Service level agreements may have lapsed and hazards like pressure systems (Barista) lifting equipment (hoists/FLT’s) gas installation and fire detection may pose an increased risk.

Safely test your equipment with a pre-use inspection before its needed.