Written by: Larry Drewsen, Emplosure Health & Safety Manager
As Australia emerges from lockdown and employees head back to work, business owners are faced with a new raft of safety measures to prevent and respond to the ongoing Covid outbreak.
There are new protocols we need in place, to keep our employees and the public safe, as we operate our businesses amidst a virus that hasn’t disappeared just yet. Re-opening is one thing, but keeping open our workspace, office, sites is what will be the ultimate key to success. In this article, we will look at what you need to consider on re-opening and tips on how to open safely.
Why Opening Safely is important
Any business surviving lockdowns is impressive, but sustaining operations post-lockdown is what will support and maintain your business growth. Even 1 confirmed COVID case entering your workplace could potentially shut down operations significantly. Knowing what your infection risks in the workplace are, deciding on control measures, and making plans for worst-case scenarios is crucial to opening safely.
Employsure is here for all business owners and are committed to giving every business free initial advice. If this is a topic of concern and you need to ensure your staff are protected, call us on 1300 207 182.
What to Consider for Reopening Safely
Open communication between busy staff and business owners is vital during a pandemic hit workplace. Employees who can easily reach out to managers and colleagues to express concerns, from sudden health and safety worries to rostering to record-keeping, are the staff who will empower you as an employer in the fast-moving pace of COVID-19. Apps that unite your teams, allowing them to have quick easy conversations in real-time could help keep work moving forward while reducing the risk of the virus being spread between staff.
Consider how you will monitor your employee wellness in the workplace, will they fill out a checklist each day or shift? Monitoring symptoms in staff is a fundamental part of controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Could staff take turns to be ‘monitor’? Use technology to ask staff to log their wellness scores in a shared doc, or company software, or an app which would also serve as a record should you need it.
Keep it Clean
If you haven’t been in the workplace for months during a lockdown, then consider a ‘big clean’, some businesses are posting photos of the ‘big clean’ on social media to announce the big reopening. Which also serves to reassure customers and staff that their safety is a priority.
The ‘new normal’ requires new protocols for cleaning and infection control. Think about what (if any) physical objects are shared in the workplace, how to keep these clean and how to integrate this new regular cleaning. Read our e-guide for in-depth essential advice on re-opening.
Update your COVID-19 risk assessment. It’s easy to keep putting this off, but your risk assessment is going to be a valuable asset in re-opening, and importantly keeping your business open. Use the open dialogue you’ve had with staff, work out together what the risks of transmission in the workplace are. Develop ways to control these risks, implement measures and then keep a record of these measures. Review the measures regularly. For instance: Are customers forgetting to stand behind the line to order food? Then consider moving signage. Keep reviewing your practices and keep adapting. Check out our BrightHR software, we have 100’s of Risk Assessment templates to make it simple to carry one out quickly and easily.
Keep records. Keep Records. Keep records. Then keep some more records. In the new normal, keeping records is an important factor in infection control. Record which staff are in, and where, and on what days. If a case is found in the workplace, you will want to be able to quickly track and trace and close-down the infection. If an employee becomes infected, then as a manager you’ll be powerfully equipped to quickly respond to an outbreak and stop it in its tracks.
Need a template COVID Safety Plan for your business? Get your copy here. For more practical tips on reopening your business safely download the free guide. For a more confidential chat, call Employsure’s Employer Helpline for free initial advice: 1300 207 182.