The gradual removal of lockdown has left many companies wondering how to maintain social distancing in their premises, whether it be a front facing retail business, or for guidance for employees in offices to ensure they keep an adequate distance apart whilst working.
What Are The Latest Social Distancing Guidelines?
(as of 19th June 2020)
Every employer has a legal responsibility to protect staff and others from risk by taking adequate precautions to ensure that the spread of Covid-19 within their premises is minimised. Where staff can work from home they should be encouraged to do so, but this is not always possible.
Where an employee is unable to work from home the following guidelines must be met:
- Carrying out a full risk assessment
All employers will be required to carry out a risk assessment with regards to staff returning to work during the Covid-19 pandemic. When carrying out a risk assessment it is important to write about every risk that could be encountered and how you are mitigating these risks. For example, you may mitigate the risk of more than one staff member being in an enclosed area at one time by providing social distancing posters that advise on limiting people in certain areas.
- Keep individuals 2 metres apart wherever possible
The government advice regarding social distancing clearly states that individuals should be at least 2 metres apart to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus. One way to deal with this is to create different shifts of workers or to change the layout of your workplace. Social distancing signage can be used to help remind employees of the 2 metre rule.
- Minimise face to face contact where possible
Face to face contact obviously makes the spread of the virus more likely. By minimising face to face contact you can limit the time that an employee is potentially exposed to the virus. Social distancing posters are particularly useful if you have staff on a front desk or at a payment point. Using posters or floor markers to remind any visitors or customers to your premises is a good way to ensure that people follow social distancing guidelines.
- Provide handwashing or hand sanitising facilities at every entrance or exit to the workplace
When people enter the workplace it is possible they may have been exposed to the virus on their way to work or in their own homes. By providing hand washing or hand sanitising facilities at the entrance to your workplace you are minimising the risk of the virus being passed between your employees.
- Provide training on new procedures to all staff returning to work
All employees that return to work should be provided with adequate training that helps them understand the changes in their usual working practices that are in line with your risk assessment and social distancing within your workplace. Creative social distancing signage can be used around the workplace to remind employees of the training they have received.
Keeping workplaces clean – workplaces should be cleaned more frequently than usual
Work spaces should be cleaned much more frequently than before. It is important that you either arrange for cleaners to provide a more frequent service or that you give your employees the necessary products, time, and training to ensure that the workplace is kept clean.
- Manage transmission risk
If your employees are unable to work from home, or maintain the 2 metre social distancing space, then it is important that you manage the risk of transmission carefully. For example, you may use barriers within the office, or try partnering certain employees together so that the same employees are on the same shift to avoid contamination of the whole workforce should an employee contract the virus.
- Face masks and other PPE are only considered compulsory in certain public facing roles but you may want to consider allowing your staff to wear a face covering whilst on your premises.
Whilst it isn’t always practicable, allowing employees to use face masks is another good way to stop transmission of covid-19. Use of creative social distancing signage is a great way to remind people to use the correct PPE if it is required of them.