Guidance on Reopening Your Business and Returning to Work
by Ciaran Kavanagh | 4 min read June 10th, 2020
As our economy begins to emerge from restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19, your business may be faced with a range of risk factors associated with restarting.
This document provides guidelines on ensuring a safe environment and a series of risk prevention recommendations to minimise the risk of damage to property on reopening. The guidelines are not intended as a substitute for The Return to Work Safely Protocol and should be read in conjunction with the latest Government Publications, Public Health Measures and Health Advice on ‘Roadmap for Opening Society and Business’.
Employers, business owners and managers are required to ensure a safe workplace for their employees and for visiting customers. The ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’ must be used by all workplaces to adapt their procedures and practices to comply with the COVID-19 related public health protection measures. If your employees are currently working from home, please refer to the following useful guidance from the Health & Safety Authority on your key responsibilities.
The Health and Safety Authority has published a COVID-19 Response Plan Template and seven checklists to guide employers and employees on what they need to do to comply with the Government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol.
- Develop and document your COVID-19 Response Plan. Identify competent person(s) to ensure the effective implementation of the plan, changes to work activities and compliance with the ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’.
- Prepare and document a COVID-19 Risk Assessment for your workplace, consider the hazard exposure to all your employees, visitors, contractors and controls to be implemented. Update your workplace risk assessments and Safety Statement to take account of additional procedures and controls.
- Identify and implement best practice and risk control safety measures applicable to your workplace e.g. social distancing, hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE) usage where appropriate and safe disposal in suitable containers.
- Identify and display appropriate warning and safety signage for your premises.
- Source and purchase items and material necessary for protection in order to implement the hazard controls in good time.
- Arrange the appropriate cleaning of all your building(s), fixtures/ fittings and external areas under your control. The cleaning regime should include materials / stock (where appropriate). COVID-19 Risk Assessment/control instructions, suitable PPE and training must be provided to your employees in advance. (External cleaning contractors should provide you with a method statement/ safe system of work, proof of insurance and when finished written confirmation that the cleaning has been completed to the agreed standard).
- Ensure suitable arrangements are in place for prompt identification and isolation of your employees who may show symptoms of COVID-19 and for dealing with a suspected case in your workplace.
- Issue a Pre-Return to Work Form for your employees to complete at least three days in advance of the return to work. A copy of this form can be found in the Return to Work Safely Protocol link above.
- Provide induction training for all your employees, which should include up-to-date public health guidance, what employees should do if they develop symptoms, give details of how your workplace is organised to address COVID-19 risks, outline your COVID-19 response plan including your risk assessment and controls, identify points of contact and other sector specific advice. Training provided should be signed off as being received and understood by your employees.
- Put in place control measures to avoid the potential for Legionnaires’ Disease before your premises reopens. For premises with simple water systems (toilets and sinks), ensure water systems are safely flushed clean. Suitable personal protective equipment should be provided to employees carrying out the work. Further advice on the prevention of Legionnaires’ Disease after the COVID-19 Pandemic is available HERE.
- Carry out an enhanced cleaning regime of your workplace at regular intervals, particularly in communal areas and touch-points, such as washing facilities, toilets, door handles and push plates, hand rails, office equipment, machinery controls and food preparation areas. Further information on cleaning in non-healthcare settings is available from the ECDC.
• It is important that your business management have in place a documented record of each safety action as evidence of workplace compliance with health and safety protocols.
Building Protection Measures
- Perform a thorough self-inspection of your site, including all buildings (interior and exterior) and equipment, to detect and correct any unsafe or abnormal conditions, such as damage, maintenance issues, improper housekeeping or storage, signs of vandalism, etc.
- Check all protection / detection systems, including fire and intruder alarm systems, CCTV, access control etc., are in service and functioning properly.
- Review emergency response procedures.
- Recommission previously shutdown machinery / plant and processes in line with all standard operating procedures (SOPs) and manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Complete and reinstate any inspection, testing and maintenance procedures that may have lapsed since the shutdown, including utility services, machinery / plant, fire and security protection / detection systems etc.
- Check position of waste bins prior to re-opening.
- Many arson fires have been started in waste skips or wheelie-bins stored adjacent to the building. Ideally these should be stored in locked compartments/ compounds or located well away from your building;
- Make sure no combustibles have been stored in electrical rooms/boiler houses.
- For locations introducing alcohol-based (flammable) disinfectants, including hand sanitisers, implement the following fire safety precautions at your premises:
- Safely position and advertise the location of hand sanitisers. Do not store or use near sources of ignition, such as electrical equipment, hot surfaces, smoking areas, etc. Ensure personnel rub their hands
together and are completely dry, allowing flammable vapours to evaporate safely.
- Dispose of all waste cleaning cloths in approved, normally closed, metal containers. Empty waste
containers at least daily for safe disposal off-site.
- Store all combustible and flammable liquids in approved flammable liquid cabinets or rooms.
- HEALTH & SAFETY AUTHORITY
- HEALTH SERVICE EXECUTIVE
- HEALTH PROTECTION SURVEILLANCE CENTRE (HPSC)
- NSAI (NATIONAL STANDARDS AUTHORITY OF IRELAND) COVID-19 WORKPLACE PROTECTION AND IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
- CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY FEDERATION
The information contained herein is not meant to imply that every possible hazard has been identified, or that no other hazards or hazardous conditions exist. Allianz plc specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that compliance with any advice contained herein will make any premises or operations safe or comply with any health standards, law, rule or regulation. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as indicating the existence or availability of coverage under any policy for any property or type of loss or damage.