‘Return to Workplace’ best practice

ISE Partners facilitated discussion on ‘Return to Workplace’ best practice. 

‘Covid-19 operations management 101’.

Wednesday 6th May

We were joined by Matthew Blossom, expert consultant from award-winning HR, health & safety and employee wellbeing specialist, Peninsula Business Services. 

Key areas for discussion during this session:

  • Sanitation – occupational health and cleaning practices
  • Set Up – physical office space, commuting, visitors
  • Scheduling – cohorting, staggered start times and supporting staff


Watch the video here.

Download the transcript here.


Five key takeaways from this Zoom Room:


It is essential to look at the Covid-19 risk assessment and policy setup within your business.

If you are designated as the ‘competent person’ for your business, risk assessments may fall into your job description, but you are entitled to training to enable you.  It’s important to note that the law has now changed, to give ultimate H&S reasonability to company Directors, but as ‘competent person’ you will still have a role and, therefore, shared responsibility.  Talk to your Directors about the training and support you need. 


The government will not make official statements about exactly what you need to do to ‘return to workplace’ or how to be a compliant business

With the appointment of a ‘competent person’, the HSE expect that they have access to the right advice and training to be able to use the HSE website as a guide for their work.  There are lots of different companies who offer this advice and training, Peninsula being just one, so if you need help you should communicate this with your Directors and make a plan to put support into place for you and your company.


Existing Health & Safety and occupational health policies and reporting methods need to be updated

Predominantly this is going to be around infectious disease and dangerous occurrences. So, having risk assessments in place to see which of your employees are going to be exposed to Coronavirus and which aren't (e.g. proximity whilst working, sharing vehicles, etc.).  All risks have to be noted in assessment so that companies can work out solutions, provide training, etc.  Most businesses won’t have very strong infectious disease controls or policies or reporting procedures, so there will be a lot of work to do in this area.


Implementing protection and hygiene measures, distributing hand-wash, reviewing cleaning arrangements – who is responsible for this?

In a nutshell, the Director of a company is responsible for the Health & Safety in that business; under the Health & Safety Act 1974, the buck starts and stops with the Director and it's only by putting in the relevant training and support to whoever that ‘competent person’ is that then takes some of that blame away from them.  So, if there isn't a Health & Safety policy that's been signed off in the last 12 months, if staff aren't receiving Health & Safety training and if risk assessments aren't being regularly completed then the Director of that firm is behind legislation and at risk of prosecution.  It’s not just about someone having an accident, rather about Coronavirus spot checks, which the HSE will absolutely be doing.


Landlords have to ensure that communal areas are cleaned

It is absolutely the responsibility of building landlords to ensure adherence to Coronavirus HSE guidelines.  However, each company must also include communal areas in their risk assessment - basically, anything that their employee might walk through/touch needs to be included.  It’s very likely that the actual use of communal areas and meeting rooms will be out of the question or very restricted for the foreseeable future.


Touch points have to be cleaned as often as they are touched

It’s as simple as that.  This is why sharing equipment (i.e. even a stapler) isn’t going to be viable.


PPE should be selected and purchased now

If the British government struggled to get hold of what they needed, how much more will individual corporates?  Don’t wait for further lockdown eases, and for return-to-workplace to be in sight.  Make your purchases now.  The situations in which PPE will be compulsory is still to be ascertained but, anything declared as mandatory at work will have to be provided by employers.


How should employees be organised and managed when tackling return-to-work?

Sensitively, consultatively and cohorting will be needed.  This subject is pretty vast, so listen to what Matthew has to say, and watch out for more Zoom Rooms on the matter.


Matthew Blossom has offered a free one-to-one phone consultation to ISE’s network to follow this session.  To discuss this, and for more resources, please email Jen.White@isepartners.com.


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