Reopening your business safely

Anna O'Grady

Posted by on 9th May 2020



The Irish Government released its comprehensive “Return to Work Safely” protocol document today, 9 May 2020. It is designed to support those who are reopening their business in the coming weeks.

This document lists the key requirements that businesses and employees when reopening their business will need to adhere to in order to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection in the workplace. The information in this document points to business being highly (unusual) for the coming months ahead.

To help with an introduction to the document and the types of things all businesses, from the largest to the smallest, will need to think about when reopening your business, we’ve produced a summary guide.

The guide is by no means exhaustive and we would encourage all SMEs to follow the links to the full documents and ensure that every aspect relevant to their businesses is taken into account when preparing to reopen your business.

1 – Communication + Collaboration are KEY

  • It’s at the heart of a safe and functioning workplace.
  • Every business must have at least 1 CLEARLY IDENTIFIED person responsible for Covid-19 procedures.
  • Staff / trade union and existing H&S representatives must be consulted.
  • Workers, contractors, visitors and customers need to know what is expected of them at your workplace

2 – Build a response plan

  • What RISKS are associated with your workplace?
  • Are any of your workers in vulnerable categories?
  • How will you deal with a suspected case, high levels of absenteeism or a need to contain an outbreak among staff?

3 – Get ready for reopening your business

  • Controls to reduce workplace risks should be implemented first.
  • All workers must complete a PRE-RETURN FORM declaring they are fit to work 3 days before starting.
  • All workers and contractors must be given an INDUCTION into new
    procedures.
  • Temperature checking for workers must be put in place

4 – Dealing with a suspected Covid-19 case

  • Any workers with symptoms should NOT attend work.
  • Assign a designated isolation area, isolation route and a manager to deal with cases.
  • Any workers with symptoms must be isolated and supported to return
    home or to hospital.
  • A full ASSESSMENT & FOLLOW UP is required afterwards.

5 – Hand and respiratory hygiene

  • Ensure SUFFICIENT HAND WASHING facilities are available.
  • Provide appropriate training and signage.
  • Provide tissues, extra bins and cleaning products around the workplace.
  • Workers should use their own pens, cups and bottles.
  • Provide hand sanitisers to clean shared vehicles between users.

6 – Keeping workers apart

  • Where possible, WORK FROM HOME should continue. Where it cannot:
  • No handshaking policy
  • Business travel at a minimum
  • Essential face-to-face meetings kept short with the minimum attendees.
  • GET CREATIVE; free up office space, stagger lunch breaks, provide 1-way systems, reduce bottlenecks to keep workers 2m apart.
  • Physical barriers and masks should be implemented where it is impossible to enforce social distancing at work.

7 – A clean workplace

  • Thorough and regular cleaning is the best infection control measure.
  • Provide additional bins and give workers the tools to clean their own
    work spaces.
  • Assign hot desks to particular worker(s) and clean regularly.
  • PPE should be selected based on the level of risk associated, and should not cause an additional occupational hazard.
  • Any PPE required to be work must be consistently and properly worn.

8 – Interacting with customers

  • As much as possible, physical contact between customers and workers
    should be ELIMINATED.
  • Offer click and collect or delivery services.
  • Provide hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.
  • Install physical barriers and markings to aid physical distancing – for in-store and/or queuing outside.
  • Display advice and procedures clearly that you want your customers to follow.

9 – Useful links

This article is a summary of the Government’s comprehensive Return to Work Safely Protocol.

Read the full document at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Return-to-Work-Safely-Protocol.html

Further information on PPE at: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/Topics/Personal
_Protective_Equipment_-_PPE/

NSAI guidelines on creating a safe workplace and dealing with a suspected
outbreak: https://www.nsai.ie/images/uploads/general/NSAI-Guidelines-for-COVID-19-2020-04-09.pdf

Finally, if your business could benefit from additional working capital to aid cash flow or to adapt to the new normal when reopening your business, Linked Finance is here to help.  We can provide simple, no hassle unsecured business loans with minimal paperwork and no strings attached to drawdown. Apply now.

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