Does my business still need to be COVID-secure?

Gavin Scarr Hall - Director of Health and Safety

July 20 2021

The government has now scrapped most COVID-19 restrictions in England.

And after over a year of disruption, that might be a relief. But with cases currently growing, there are still precautions you need to take.

Because without some control measures, the virus could repeatedly rip through your workplace. Which could lead to self-isolating staff, cancelling customers, or even legal disputes… not to mention the risk of someone falling seriously ill. 

So, read on to discover how to protect your business as restrictions lift.

So, what do I still need to do?

On Friday, the government released new advice for all businesses in England. Since you no longer need to legally enforce distancing, contact tracing, or face coverings, COVID-19 may spread more easily.

Which means it’s too risky to drop all other measures at once. And that’s why, according to recent government guidance, you still need to follow these six steps

1. Update your COVID-19 risk assessment

The HSE website says you should update your risk assessment whenever health & safety legislation changes. And even though you no longer need to follow COVID guidance by law, you still have a legal duty to manage risks within your business.

And COVID-19 risks are no exception to that.

Think about what’s changed in your business and ask whether it increases the chance of catching COVID-19. Have you brought more staff back to work? Re-introduced bar service? Increased your capacity?  

Then, add control measures which lower the risk – like regularly cleaning surfaces, or checking the temperature of staff or customers before entry.

Plus, you need to consider staff with health conditions and take steps to protect them. This could mean allowing them to continue working from home or change their shift pattern to avoid crowded public transport.   

Once you’ve updated your assessment, remember to share it around your workforce and make sure everyone understands the guidance.

2. Allow people to check into your venue

You no longer need to ask visitors or customers for their contact details.

But you still need to give people the option to do this. This means the NHS can contact them if anyone tests positive for COVID-19 on your premises.

So make sure you still ask customers and visitors whether they’d like to leave their details. Or, to save time, you can print out an official NHS QR code poster to allow people to quickly check into your venue.

Plus, the government is encouraging certain venues to ask for the NHS COVID pass – or a negative test result – as a condition of entry. So if you manage a crowded venue like a nightclub, this can stop the virus spreading to many different people at once.

3. Communicate with your staff and customers

It’s important to keep your staff and customers up to date with your rules.

Since most COVID-secure measures are now up to you, customers will need to follow different guidance in different venues. And to reduce any confusion, you should clearly outline your rules.

So whether you’ve decided to keep face coverings or stick to table service, you can keep your customers informed by:

  • Including information in your booking confirmation emails
  • Displaying signs and posters around your venue
  • Adding your policy to your website and social media

And when it comes to your staff, you’ll need to update your health & safety policies to share around your workforce.

4. Turn people with COVID-19 symptoms away

Keeping cases of COVID-19 away from your premises is one of the most effective ways to stay safe. And according to government guidance, it’s one of the remaining COVID-secure requirements all businesses must follow.

Here’s how you could keep COVID cases safely out of your business:

  • Carry out regular lateral flow testing for staff.
  • Ask staff and customers to fill out a checklist of symptoms on entry.
  • Scan the temperatures of staff and customers on entry.
  • Refuse anyone displaying symptoms – like a fever or cough – entry into the workplace

5. Provide adequate ventilation

Fresh air can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by blowing bacteria particles away. So where you can, make sure you have a steady flow of fresh air circulating around your premises. If that’s not possible, consider using mechanical ventilation like fans or ducts.

You should identify any poorly ventilated spots in your premises and take steps to improve the levels of fresh air. A CO2 monitor can help you do this.

6. Keep up with regular cleaning

COVID-19 can spread by physical contact. That’s why regularly cleaning surfaces and encouraging frequent hand washing is still part of the government’s guidance for businesses.

To do this, you could:

  • Add hand sanitiser stations by entry points.
  • Display posters to remind staff about good hand hygiene.
  • Increase the amount you clean your premises.
  • Identify surfaces that people touch a lot and keep these clean.

Navigate the next step with 24/7 health & safety support

Aside from those six steps, the way you can manage COVID risk isn’t always clear.  

To decide what’s right for your business, you need to first ask whether your risk assessment flags up any hazards. But beyond this, it’s not easy to find the balance between reducing risk and getting back to business.

That’s why our leading health & safety service is here to help you:

  • Update and review your risk assessment
  • Remove uncertainty with access to 24/7 health & safety advice
  • Create easy-to-follow guidance to share with your staff
  • Record risks with ease with time-saving software
  • Avoid any legal fines with optional health & safety insurance

We help thousands of UK businesses stay safe and successful throughout these turbulent times. And we can do the same for you.

To get started, speak to a health & safety expert today on 0800 028 2420.

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