Businesses are starting to return to work across the UK. One of the main challenges they’re facing is social distancing. This is now an important part of your health and safety requirements. In this article, the MIA’s trusted Business Support Helpline partner, Croner, will explore the tactics you can adopt in the months ahead to ensure safe social distancing at work…
Do remember that every workplace is different, and so the guidance will differ for everyone.
How to practice social distancing at work
You can perform a risk assessment to help determine potential issues ahead.
But, in many instances, you should follow basic social distance guidelines for businesses. This is about ensuring all employees are able to maintain a two-metre distance from one another. Constantly.
This may involve some rearranging of workstations. If you do move employees around, be sure they’re made aware of their new location in good time.
And that they have access to everything they need to perform their role.
In areas that are likely to see a lot of traffic, use floor tape or paint to mark areas to help keep people two-metre distance apart.
It’s not recommended for you to meet clients or have visitors if the meeting can be held via video call or postponed to another date.
Your workplace should only have those employees who need to be there on location.
For instances where people can’t maintain social distancing, manage risk as much as possible. For example, using screens or barriers, staggering shift times.
How to maintain social distancing at work
Once you’re through the initial process of getting employees back into work and implementing precautions, you might start asking the question: “How do I keep this up?”
Maintaining social distancing measures at work after COVID-19 lockdown ends will be a challenge. For example, some employees may not want to abide by the measures you’ve put in place.
It’s important to regularly review your risk assessment. It might be that once people are back, measures need to be changed.
For those who repeatedly fail to follow the measures you’ve put into place, it may be worth going down a disciplinary route.
Key H&S checks for social distancing at work
When you’re reviewing the situation, there are some key areas you need to keep in mind.
Remember, social distancing at work should always be at the forefront of your mind. Key checks include:
- Work areas: Are people two metres apart?
- Where employees can’t keep two-metres apart: Have all possible precautions been taken?
- Communal areas: How are these made secure?
- Hygiene: Have you made handwashing facilities available?
- Information and guidance: Have you provided employees with all the information they need to stay safe?
- PPE: Where personal protective equipment is needed, has it been supplied?
Key considerations for a social distancing policy at work
One way to ensure you’re set for social distancing at work is to create a policy. After all, social distancing at work may continue after lockdown for some time.
Here are the main things to consider when creating this document:
- HR and health & safety: Social distancing covers both HR and health & safety. So, it’s important to cover both of these areas in your policy. Highlight the health & safety measures your business is going to take. And, highlight the HR processes you’ll take if anyone fails to adhere to them.
- Are all risks addressed? Each workplace is different. There will be risks your workplace will face that others won’t. Ensure you take these issues into consideration hen developing your policy.
- Is it necessary? Consider whether you need to have a policy at all. Remember, only workers who need to be in work should be at the workplace. The policy should take these employees into consideration.
How often a business should assess their social distancing policy
Review your policy every time there’s a new government update that could affect employees.
Also review your policy if the situation at work changes. Finally, do so again whenever a new group of workers come back into the office for the first time.
That might seem like a lot of reviewing and updating, but it’s worth it to keep your staff and your business safe.
MIA Members – free access to Croner’s helpline!
For any advice or guidance on any of the above, or if you have other queries, all MIA members have free access to Croner’s member support helpline. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the exclusive Business Support Helpline scheme number.