Can we keep our business open during COVID-19?

Apr 16, 2020

Many businesses can remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is vital, if your business is open, that you work safely and protect your staff and customers from harm.

The UK government are providing regular updates and guidance for employers and businesses about COVID-19 via their website www.gov.uk    

We advise that you keep checking this guidance regularly to ensure that you work and operate within the law. The guidance will change so you need to keep checking.

The UK Government presently stipulates the following:

 

Stay at home

-only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
-if you go out, stay 2 metres away from other people at all times
-wash your hands as soon as you get home.

The main guidance is, where possible, to work from home but if you can not work from home, you can go to work. There are certain limitations to this as certain businesses have to remain closed such as non-essential shops, leisure centres and gyms. See the gov.uk website for a full list of which businesses which must remain closed.

Many other businesses are allowed to continue to operate such as factories, construction firms, food shops, pharmacies and petrol stations for example. Many schools are remaining open also to help with childcare for key workers. Many construction sites are remaining open and domestic maintenance is also permitted, as long as everyone is well and no one has any known symptoms or has come into contact with anyone who has.

As the pandemic has been going for some time now, and is likely to continue for many more months, businesses are looking to operate a ‘new kind of open.’ In many ways, it will change the way we do business and it may even do so for the better. It is vital that UK business can operate to power the UK economy. It is also vital for people’s incomes that businesses do operate if they are able to. Many small business owners can not get access to much worthwhile government financial assistance and so they need to keep working as much as they can. Many businesses are vital to local communities. You would be amazed at how many Coventry based businesses provide services and equipment to the NHS for example and other key services.

JCH Safety appreciates that some firms across Coventry and Warwickshire have very little option but to keep working. For this reason, we really want to be there to help you to work safely so as to protect your team and your business. We believe there are many safety controls that you can adopt to keep everyone safe and the wheels of commerce turning.

Let’s have a look at what you can do to keep your team safe.

 

Here are 5 good safety practices for employers during COVID-19

 

– Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment. This will allow you to review the safety of staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Ensure that all reasonably foreseeable risks are controlled. This will keep staff safe at work. Share your findings with your team. If you need help preparing the risk assessment, JCH Safety Ltd can help you with this. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us so we can help you stay safe and stay legal.

-Make sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency details are up to date. In the event of an emergency you will be able to get in touch with the correct people and if you need to communicate with your team members you will be able to reach them. It is not unusual for people to change their numbers and emails and forget to notify employers.

– Provide access to hand washing facilities. This means access to hot water and soap along with a way to dry hands. Keep bathrooms and sinks clean and empty bins frequently. Consider providing posters with information about how to wash your hands and to remind everyone to wash their hands regularly.

– Provide hand sanitiser stations around the workplace and remind staff to use it. Supplies of sanitiser are improving so keep dispensers full and available.

– Promote social distancing at work. It involves reducing contact with people as much as possible through avoiding crowding and maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres between individuals. Use signage and training to reinforce this message.

Once you have your business up and running again you will need to keep training staff, supervising your teams and educating your customers. It is time for a new kind of open for British business.

Remember to keep your premises extra clean. Handles, work surfaces and common areas must be cleaned frequently to kill any germs that can stay alive on surfaces. Promote the flow of fresh air by opening windows and doors for natural ventilation. You need to ensure that this does not increase fire risk so update your fire risk assessment also. Consider installing perspex safety screens to prevent people breathing and coughing on each other.

As business starts to awaken after the pandemic, it is vital that people do not become complacent. Business needs to take the lead to ensure that safe working practices do not cause the pandemic to build up further in the future. This would be awful for society and  detrimental to the economy. If people are sensible, follow precautions and manage risks there is every reason to be confident that business can get back on its feet again soon!

 

Good luck and stay safe.

 

If you need any assistance with health and safety or fire prevention/fire risk assessments please do not hesitate to contact us.