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Wednesday, 27 May

Government Suggests Post-Lockdown Workplace Measures 

Government Suggests Post-Lockdown Workplace Measures 

Ahead of Boris Johnson revealing his lockdown exit strategy this week, a draft government plan to ease anti-coronavirus restrictions has been revealed by the BBC.

The document allegedly urges employers to minimise numbers using equipment, stagger shift times and maximise home-working. Additional hygiene procedures, physical screens and the use of PPE should be considered where maintaining distancing of 2m (6ft) between workers is impossible.

However, the BBC has reported that the specific PPE section only reads that "more detail" will follow.

"Businesses should also look to the advice being published by trade associations and similar groups on how to work out government guidance in their sector."

–Gov.uk website

 

Current guidance on social distancing in the workplace during coronavirus

 

The current published advice (correct a time of reporting Monday 4 May 2020)  for employers looking to plan their return to the workplace suggests specific measure for different sectors, such as:

  • Tradespeople carrying out essential repairs and maintenance in people’s homes – You can continue work, providing that you are well and have no symptoms. You should notify all clients in advance of your arrival. On entry to the home you should wash your hands using soap and water for 20 seconds. You should wash your hands regularly, particularly after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, and when leaving the property. You should maintain a safe distance (at least 2 metres) from any household occupants at all times, and ensure good ventilation in the area where you are working, including opening the window
  • Construction – You should plan work to minimise contact between workers and avoid skin-to-skin and face-to-face contact. Where face-to-face contact is essential, this should be kept to 15 minutes or less wherever possible. As much as possible, keep groups of workers working together in teams that are as small as possible (cohorting). Staff should also wash their hands each time before getting into enclosed machinery (such as diggers) with others, and wash their hands every time they get out. Employees should keep the windows of enclosed machinery or enclosed spaces open for ventilation and be careful to avoid touching their face at all times. The inside of cabs should be regularly cleaned, particularly between use by different operators. You should try to use stairs in preference to lifts or hoists
  • Manufacturing and processing – You should increase the frequency of cleaning procedures, pausing production in the day if necessary for cleaning staff to wipe down workstations with disinfectant. You should assign staff to the same shift teams to limit social interaction. You should not allow staff to congregate in break times; you should consider arrangements such as staggered break times so that staff can continue to practice social distancing when taking breaks
  • Logistics – To protect your staff, you should remind colleagues daily to only come into work if they are well and no one in their household is self-isolating. You should also put up signage and floor markings in the warehouse, encouraging a 2 metre distance from colleagues where it is at all feasible
  • Waste management On waste sorting and picking lines staff should observe the same rules as for Manufacturing. You should allow frequent cleaning and disinfecting of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using standard cleaning products, particularly at the end and beginning of shifts. When staff are sharing an enclosed space, such as in refuse and waste collection vehicle cabs and are unable to maintain a 2 metre distance, they should wash their hands for 20 seconds or longer before getting into, or after getting out of, the vehicle, or use hand sanitiser where handwashing is not possible

 

The above are highlighted examples from a wider advice document, and full suggested guidelines can be found here.

 

How are businesses managing it currently?

 

Contracting and interior fit-out group Willmott Dixon has published details on how they have already been adapting to guidelines to continue to work on key projects.

Willmott Dixon has over 95 per cent of its projects open after implementing the Construction Leadership Council's (CLC) Site Operating Procedures to ensure sites remain safe environments to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Willmott Dixon has been able to maintain its high rate of sites kept open by adhering to social distancing practices, and has provided a glimpse of how that is happening at Stockton’s Grade Two listed Globe Theatre. Willmott Dixon was appointed by Stockton Council renovate the building as a 3,000-capacity music and comedy venue.

"One-way systems were implemented on staircases to avoid paths being crossed and two-metre spacing was marked for safe working. "

–Mark Wolverson

Construction Manager, Wilmott Dixon 

Construction manager Mark Wolverson explains how the project adapted to working during the Covid-19 pandemic:

“Following the Prime Minister’s announcement about the lockdown, our first action was to review who needed to be on-site and who could work from home.  This led to the reallocation of design and commercial personnel to home working environments. 

Signage outside Globe

Picture: A warning sign at the Globe site

“Also, our site’s offices are in a large building adjacent to the Globe, so this allowed us to space desks to abide by the two-metre social distancing requirements.  Within the theatre itself, one-way systems were implemented on staircases to avoid paths being crossed and two-metre spacing was marked for safe working. 

“To further the social distancing message, we installed motion-activated voiceover systems to remind operatives to abide by social distancing when entering the site, while hand sanitiser is plentiful and available in meeting rooms, on desks, and all site entrances and exits.”

 

Communication remains key

 

Extensive communication underlines the message, “Each morning we hold ‘toolbox talks’ with our people and supply chain partners.  These meetings explain the latest guidance and operating procedures, ensuring everyone knows how they are expected to work within the guidelines.  The talks are held in large open spaces, allowing everyone to abide by the two-metre rule.  If anyone shows symptoms of the Coronavirus or needs to self-isolate, they are empowered to do so, and it is critical they abide by this directive.”

Mark continues, “The safety of our people and supply chain extends beyond the project’s boundaries.  Everyone has a letter explaining their need to be outside their home in case they are questioned by law enforcement.”

 

Confidence returns amongst the supply chain

 

Mark continues, “Through our safe working practices, we are seeing more supply chain partners returning on a weekly basis, which is enabling more tasks to be completed.  We have had supply chain partners comment they feel safer on-site in comparison to their local supermarket, and are pleased to be able to continue their work.”

Picture: An example of signage to be distributed around workplaces, advising of social distancing measures

Article written by Ella Tansley

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