Key points in the UK Government's 'Covid-19 secure' workplace guidance
On 11th May 2020 the UK Government issued guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
The detailed guidance covers eight different settings and is broken down into practical steps which the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said should be put in place "as soon as is practical".
Guidelines are issued for workplaces categorised as construction and other outdoor work, factories, plants and warehouses, homes, labs and research facilities, offices and contact centres, restaurants, shops and vehicles.
The guidelines apply to businesses that are allowed to open under current lockdown rules and shops that could begin a “phased reopening” from June 1 if transmission of the virus decreases.
Five Steps to Working Safely - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
- Do a COVID-19 Risk Assessment
- Follow cleaning and hygiene rules
- Help people work from home
- Stay 2m apart where possible
- If 2m is not possible, take steps to manage risk
Assess risks in consultation with workers or trade unions
Under health and safety, employment and equalities legislation, employers should carry out Covid-19 risk assessments and consult staff or trade unions. Firms should publish the assessment if possible and BEIS said all businesses with more than 50 employees were expected to do so.
Where possible, two-metre social distancing should be maintained
Work areas should be redesigned to accommodate a distance of two metres between people, while other measures could include staggering start times, creating one-way pathways around sites, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating plans in break rooms.
Manage the risk of transmission if two-metre distancing not possible
This could include putting barriers in shared spaces, creating shift patterns or fixed teams to minimise contact between people, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other. The guidelines state multiple people should avoid travelling in the same vehicle, and for vehicles to not be shared if possible. Additional safety measures should be considered if social distancing is not possible for people such as couriers, mobile workers and lorry drivers.
If a risk assessment shows personal protective equipment is required then it must be provided free of charge to workers who need it, and must fit properly. But the Government guidelines say workplaces “should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against Covid-19 outside clinical settings” such as hospitals or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of the virus. Employers are encouraged to support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one.
More frequent cleaning
Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, with a focus on regularly touched objects such as door handles and keyboards. Employers are told to provide hand-washing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points. A relevant notice to display is available to download on the Government website.
The flexible workspace industry has been swift to respond
Flexible workspace providers have been some of the swiftest to respond to the challenges of making workplaces COVID-19 secure. New layouts have been implemented to maintain 2m distancing, office floor plans changed, desk plans rearranged, dividers installed, no-touch access systems fitted, sanitizers distributed, health monitoring implemented, and foot-flows reworked. Flexible workspaces are being reconfigured so that everyone can be kept at a safe distance but without sacrificing the opportunity for collaboration, productivity and teamwork to flourish.
In addition to the practical measures in and around the office itself, flexible workspace can satisfy the increased demand for truly agile space, that can easily expand or contract as circumstances dictate. Flex spaces are fully provisioned and can be rented on a short-term basis that doesn’t tie businesses down with long term onerous leases. The absence of significant up-front capital expenditure and the idea of paying only for the space you need, when you need it, is a proposition that holds great appeal post COVID-19.
Need help finding “Covid-19 Secure” office space?
If you are planning for transitioning back to the office, Office Freedom can help you review your options and find “Covid-19 Secure” flexible workspace. Our advice is independent, impartial and free of charge.
Speak with one of our expert property consultants today. Call 0203 603 2576 or visit https://www.officefreedom.com/company/contact-us
Important Disclaimer: This article has been prepared by Office Freedom for general information only. Official guidance from the UK Government on working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19. Office Freedom makes no guarantees, representations or warranties of any kind, expressed or implied, regarding the information including, but not limited to, warranties of content, accuracy and reliability. Any interested party must undertake their own inquiries as to the accuracy of the information. Office Freedom excludes unequivocally all inferred or implied terms, conditions and warranties arising out of this article and excludes all liability for loss and damages arising there from.