10 Points to Consider When Reopening Your Premises
1. Are your premises clean?
Due to premises having been unoccupied for several months, dust and bacteria will have accumulated. Square Mile can undertake the initial, more detailed clean prior to, sanitisation and finally restarting your regular cleaning regime. In addition to removing the dust and bacteria that will have built up, Square Mile will clean and disinfect all common touch points – door handles/push plates, handrails, light switches, telephones, keyboards, appliance handles, kitchen work surfaces, sink taps, toilet flush, printers/fax machines etc, to ensure your staff return to work in a clean, fresh and safe environment.
2. Risk Assessment
Each company will be required to undertake a Covid-19 specific risk assessment before reopening their premises. As with all Risk Assessments you will need to identify any workplace hazards, decide who may be harmed and how, so as to put in place control measures to reduce the risk also to record your findings. Square Mile will undertake our own cleaning services risk assessment for our own employees in your workplace.
3. Staff training and awareness
A return to work does not mean the virus has gone away. Discuss your Covid-19 guidance and any relevant updates with your members of staff returning to the work and their responsibilities in containing the spread of the virus and preventing contamination. Explain to staff any changes in routine you have introduced in order to allow their return to work. Make sure staff recognise the symptoms of an infected person and how to react should they suspect anyone may be ill with the virus. If a member of staff or anyone in their household display symptoms, they must self-isolate.
4. Social Distancing
The guidelines recommend having a 2m space between people at all times. Can you reconfigure desks and work areas to allow this or should you consider occupying temporary office space? You can also place partitioning screens between desks. Staff need to understand that social distancing is always required, including break times and during their commute to and from work and if travelling on public transport is required then face masks must be provided and worn.
5. Fresh air flow
It is now being reported that increasing the air flow through a room can dilute the concentration of any virus present. Simply opening a window can help achieve this. If you have an air conditioning system it should be switched to full fresh air mode. Take fresh air breaks outside where possible.
6. Personal Hygiene
Review your current hygiene practices and risk assessments to make sure that you are taking all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of people spreading illness at work. This will include promoting good hygiene using posters and notices advising employees to:
- Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or their sleeve (not their hands) when they cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately
- Wash hands with soap and water often (or sanitiser gel where this is not available)
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- Avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with their hands if they are unclean
- Staff should also self-isolate if they show symptoms of Covid-19.
7. Staggered start/finish/break times
To comply with social distancing, and to reduce congestion in communal areas, you may want to consider staggering the start, finish, and break times of your staff. If you have more than one entrance you could dictate which staff use which entrance and maybe have a separate entrance and an exit. Limit the number of staff allowed in the kitchen, canteen, staff room at any one time.
8. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal protective equipment must be provided where required by a risk assessment. The PPE should be fit for purpose and no-one should be asked to re-use PPE inappropriately.
9. Common touch points
These are areas (identified in item 1) that numerous staff come into contact with several times during the course of a working day. Staff should be encouraged to clean these areas during the day to reduce the risk of cross contamination. Staff should also keep their personal space clean. Try to avoid hot-desking and sharing of equipment. Square Mile can provide a supply of sanitising wipes to allow staff to clean these touch points during the day.
10. A robust cleaning regime
In addition to any detailed clean, at the point of reopening your premises your regular cleaning schedule will more than likely need to be reviewed. To reassure staff that you are doing all you can to protect them, it may be necessary to increase the amount of regular cleaning undertaken. You should also consider the general hygiene of your business. Use paper towels instead of normal towels or hand dryers and put them in the bin. Make sure your hand washing facilities are adequate, provide hand sanitisers and sanitising wipes for staff to use.
Ready to protect against Covid-19?
This website reflects our professional opinion of the factors impacting workplace transition in the context of our role as workplace cleaning specialists. It does not constitute formal advice and we recommend engagement with specialists, including your own internal or external health and safety advisors, if you are transitioning your workplace to a ‘Covid secure’ standard. Please also note that specific contents may not be appropriate for all types of businesses or workspaces. The spread of COVID-19 and the containment policies being introduced are changing rapidly, and some of the views expressed herein may not reflect the latest opinion of Square Mile. We strongly recommend that you continue to monitor the relevant UK Government advice, and any supplementary local advice. These sources provide regularly updated information on the COVID-19 outbreak: World Health Organization, Government of Canada, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UK Government, Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Case Tracker.