COVID-19: Re-starting your business

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has interrupted many businesses across the country. While its unclear how long COVID-19 will continue to affect organisations, we are looking to the future of business reopening and employees returning to work.

Echoing the sentiments of public health officials, a return to normalcy won’t be like flipping a switch, but rather gradual. In preparation for reopening your business and asking employees to come back to work, it’s imperative that your company thoughtfully constructs a return to work plan. This plan needs to include your employees to keep everyone healthy and safe following the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help you we have listed 8 things which all businesses need to consider as you start the process of reopening:

1. Review existing risk assessments and actions.

Check these are still relevant to the operation of your business. They need to ensure a safe working environment for your employees & clients onsite, offsite and working at third party premises.

Where your business operations and activities have changed, complete new risk assessments. You should share the results and actions with your employees, any visitors or contractors. Remember to include fire and security precautions in your review. Implement changes and enhancements where necessary (such as fire or intruder alarm detection or sprinkler protection).

Risk Assessments now have to include specifically the risk of Covid-19 and what measures you are taking as a business to mitigate these. If you need any advise on doing this more information can be found at the HSE website.

2. Undertake a thorough inspection of your site.

This includes all buildings (interior and exterior), utility services, machinery and plant, stock, any hazardous operations, emergency back-up systems and safety equipment. Locate and fix any unsafe or abnormal conditions. For example damage or maintenance issues, leaks, faulty safety and emergency systems, improper housekeeping and signs of vandalism or theft.

If your building has been shut for the duration of the lockdown with the water system not running you will also need to check for legionella’s bacteria.

3. Complete and reinstate any inspection, testing and maintenance procedures.

This includes those of a statutory nature that may have lapsed since the shutdown. this can include utility services, machinery and plant, emergency systems, vehicles, fire and security protection or detection systems.

4. Make sure all protection and detection systems are in service and functioning correctly.

This includes fire sprinkler / suppression systems, fire pumps, water supplies, fire alarm systems, intruder alarm systems, CCTV and access control.

5. Ensure your employees are competent and capable to be back at work.

Check employees have the necessary skills, training and licensing requirements and review whether additional employee training programmes or certification and supervision is required. Refer to your Return to Work policy. Which should be updated for all those returning to work from furlough or work from home. Mental health and wellbeing also need to be considered as well as physical fitness.

6. Carry out enhanced cleaning of the workplace, pre and post re-opening.

Pay particular attention to communal areas and touchpoints including company vehicles. Be aware that any alcohol-based sanitisers are flammable. As well as updating your fire risk assessments, check there is no ignition sources near where you are storing them. This includes electrical equipment, hot surfaces and smoking areas. Store them within purpose designed flammable liquid cabinets or steel cabinets.

7. Observe and enforce COVID-19 workplace restrictions in line with government regulations and guidance.

These may include social distancing, floor markings, protective equipment, staggered working hours and breaks and digital rather than paper use. Guidance is available from UK Government, Public Health England, Health Protection Scotland, Public Health Wales, and the HSE, or may also be available from trade / industry associations.

8. Review your existing insurance cover and business continuity plan.

Review your existing insurance cover to ensure these are still relevant to your business. If you have changed your business operations during the pandemic you will need to discuss these with your insurance provider, to ensure you have the right level of cover for how your business operates now.

When reviewing your business continuity plan include supply chain resilience and implement mitigations measures as appropriate. You should also include any changes to your business operations and lessons learned from any temporary shutdown.

If you need any further advise please give one of our expert account executives a call today who would be happy to discuss your individual business needs.