How to protect returning employees and customers

As businesses reopen, the focus is on protecting workers and customers in the workplace form the COVID-19 virus. A few simple changes can make all the difference in preventing the spread of the virus.

Where to find the guidelines

There are general principles and procedures that apply to every business, and there are specific guidelines for particular business sectors.

The general guidelines in England can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website. If your business is located outside of England go to the relevant government website:

• Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/
• Wales: https://gov.wales/coronavirus
• Northern Ireland: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19

These advice websites contain general as well as specific industry guidelines.

Further advice for particular industries can be obtained from industry trade bodies and associations or trade unions.

The government guidelines are likely to change as the pandemic situation develops. If the number of people infected with COIVID-19 decrease, restrictions will be eased further, but if there is a second wave of infections, stricter measures could be reintroduced. Businesses should follow the government’s briefings and check governmental websites that list changes.

Six areas

That are six health and safety areas that need addressing in order to protect workers and the public from the virus:

1. Hygiene and cleaning
2. PPE (personal protective equipment)
3. Risk assessment
4. Social distancing
5. The protection of homeworkers
6. Work-related stress

Hygiene and cleaning

Items and equipment used by workers or customers should be cleaned after use. Steely Products’ warehouse trolleys and other equipment are made from coated tubular steel. Handles and other parts that workers come into contact with are easily wiped clean with a cloth and a disinfectant cleaning fluid.

Workers need easy access to washing facilities to wash their hands frequently. Hand sanitisers should be placed at locations throughout the workplace.

PPE

Face masks are recommended, particularly in areas where workers serve customers. Clear screens should be installed to act as a barrier when serving over a counter.

PPE specific to particular hazardous operations are required. For example, in care homes and hospitals, PPE that covers the whole body is required.

Risk Assessment

All employees have an obligation to protect employees from harm and this includes protection from the virus. Identify any work activity that could potentially cause transmission of the virus or expose someone to the virus. If possible stop this activity or control the risk with social distancing, screens, PPE or other measures.

Social distancing

It has now been confirmed that social distancing is being cut from two metres to “one metre plus”.

In storage areas with narrow aisles, one way systems can help workers keep a safe distance from each other. Reorganising the shelving or racking can help. This could be done by simply moving shelving racks further apart or removing complete aisles. This can present logistics challenges, as there needs to be enough remaining capacity to store all the inventory. If an aisle is removed, capacity can be increased in existing racking by adding an extra tier.

If you need help reorganising shelving or racking areas, talk to us at Steely Products about the best solutions.

Packing stations may need reorganising, and packing tables added so that all packers can work at a safe distance from each other.

Protecting homeworkers

The government advises people who can efficiently work at home to continue to do so. Homeworkers work without close supervision, but employers still have a duty of care to make sure that they are protected.

Homeworkers need regular breaks with opportunities to stretch and move. Comfortable office chairs and desks at the right height can prevent muscle strains.

Stress and mental health

Many workers are returning to work after prolonged lockdown conditions. They may have experienced stress, and anxiety during the lockdown. When returning to work three are the normal work-related stress conditions to deal with, plus the added fear of catching the virus at work.

Management and supervisors need training on how to spot stress symptoms. Many mental health conditions can be treated effectively by a GP or the occupational mental health team if spotted early.

Businesses are used to carrying out mental health assessments, but now the added anxiety around the fear of the virus needs to be considered.

Regular video calls with members of the homeworking team can help remote workers deal with feelings of isolation.

Don’t forget to encourage workers to talk about their mental issues. The act of expressing how you feel can help alleviate stress.

Steely is here to help

At Steely Products, we’re keen to help businesses get safely up and running again. We can ease the challenge of social distancing by showing how to reorganise storage areas. Shelving may need moving or extra tiers added. Packing stations need more space and extra tables added.

Businesses are launching marketing campaigns to encourage their customers to start purchasing again. To deal with increased orders, extra staff may be needed, or furloughed staff returned to work. They will need extra picking trolleys and other warehouse equipment.

If a business is struggling to re-organise their storage areas, ask us to visit your workplace to discuss all your equipment needs. We supply equipment suitable for most industry sectors or can modify equipment for your particular requirements.

The coronavirus crisis has caused many changes to social, home, and business life. As the lockdown is eased, there is a huge challenge to return life back to normal. Some things may change permanently. Not every business will survive. Those that do are capable of adapting to an age where protection against COVID-19 and future harmful viruses may have to be standard business practice.

Safe use of storage and manual handling equipment is one area in which Steely Products can help. To discuss your equipment needs, contact us using the form below, or give us a call. We are a family-run business with many years of experience in the warehouse equipment business and are ready and willing to help you get back in business.

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Posted by Derek
1st July 2020
Health & Safety

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