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5 steps for a safe return to work

Philip Shepherd

21st September 2020

With many workplaces starting to welcome employees back after lockdown, the government has outlined five steps to ensure a safe return to work.


You must follow these five steps to ensure that you are providing as safe an environment as possible for your employees, customers and visitors to your site.


#1: COVID-19 risk assessment


As an employer, you are required by law to protect your employees from harm. It’s therefore essential that you undertake a COVID-19 risk assessment in line with HSE guidelines.


Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum you must do is:


  • Identify hazards that could cause injury or illness in your business
  • Determine how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously
  • Take action to eliminate the hazard or mitigate the risk


Risk assessments are essential in places of work, but the situation must now be reassessed with COVID-19 in mind so that adequate steps can be taken to prevent illness. You should also share the results with your workforce and make them available on your website.


#2: Stringent hygiene procedures


Strict hygiene policies are essential to curb the spread of the virus. All workplaces should increase their cleaning procedures to minimise the risk of transmission.


  • Increase the frequency of workplace cleaning, especially in busy areas
  • Provide hand sanitiser, particularly around touchpoints such as door handles
  • Encourage people to follow the NHS guidance on hand washing
  • Regularly disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched frequently
  • Hire professionals for deep cleaning and sanitisation where necessary


#3: Support home working


Working from home remains the safest option for employees. Where possible, you should take all reasonable steps to support this.


  • Ensure that you have a robust home working procedure in place
  • Educate managers and team leaders about home working
  • Allow for open discussion about flexible working, including reduced hours
  • Remain compassionate and reasonable when employees request flexible working
  • Communicate regularly with home workers to ensure that they are included
  • Support the physical and mental wellbeing of your staff through regular check-ins and offering paid sick leave


#4: Maintain social distancing


Wherever practical, social distancing guidelines should be adhered to. This means helping employees, customers and visitors to stay 2m away from each other as much as possible.


  • Display posters reminding people to keep a 2m distance
  • Implement a one-way system for foot traffic
  • Use tape or decals to mark out safe distances for waiting areas and queues
  • Implement a rota system or occupancy limit to prevent overcrowding
  • Avoid hotdesking and sharing workstations
  • Switch to an appointment-only system for visitors and opt for phone or video communication instead of in-person meetings


#5: Manage the risk of transmission


Where people are unable to stay 2m apart, you should do as much as practically possible to mitigate the transmission risk.


  • Use screens and barriers to separate people where distance cannot be maintained
  • Opt for back-to-back or side-by-side working in favour of positioning employees facing each other
  • Implement staggered arrival and departure times for employees and customers
  • Work with fixed teams or partners to minimise the number of people each person is in contact with
  • Assess which activities are business critical and which can be cancelled or postponed
  • Where face-to-face activities are unavoidable, ensure that time spent on them is kept to a minimum and avoid physical contact such as hand shaking


Supporting your workforce through recruitment


Opilio offers expert digital marketing recruitment to support your business, helping you to get back on your feet with the right people on board.


If you’re looking to enhance your team, get in touch online or call us on 0207 183 7145.

Philip Shepherd

Philip Shepherd

Founder & CEO

Philip specialises in: Senior, Director and C-Level roles in Digital Marketing

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020 7183 7145