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July 13, 2020

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Safety first in a post COVID-19 landscape

COVID-19 has had a profound effect on our lives but what will be required to protect people in the industrial and commercial workplace as we ease out of lockdown? Jim Roberts, Product Manager of visual communications firm Beaverswood offers some insight.

There can be little doubt that COVID-19 is one of the defining issues of our time. Its social, economic and health legacy will be with us for months, perhaps even years to come. And even when the crisis slips from the front pages, the fall-out will continue to be to be felt across whole swathes of daily life as companies look to rebound, rebuild and re-engage in a post-pandemic landscape.

Indeed, many organisations are already evolving, changing the way they do business, reassessing their strategies and plans to secure customers, market share and, ultimately, long-term survival. And of course, this extends to health and safety in the workplace. But how will employers manage risk effectively and ensure people stay safe and well?

Duty of employers

Coronavirus office screens

Employers have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures. They must work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace so that everybody’s health and safety is protected.

In the context of COVID-19 this means among other things, make reasonable efforts to continue to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (keeping people the correct distance apart wherever possible), use screens or barriers to separate people from each other and provide adequate personal protection equipment.

You will also need to pay particular attention to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 – protect those who might be at higher risk – and remember that social distancing will, in particular, continue to apply to all parts of a business; not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms, canteens and similar settings. These can be among the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing.

Plan ahead for those coming to and from work by using markings and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points among other initiatives.

Similarly, when it comes to workplaces and workstations, some of the steps that will continue to be required include the use of floor tape or paint to mark areas, reminding workers to keep the appropriate distance. Where it will not be possible to shift workstations further apart, install dividers to separate people from one another while also keep staff and visitors safe with protective screens in receptions and other common areas.

Remember too that you will be expected to continue to provide clear guidance on the social distancing and hygiene measures that are in place to people on arrival, who might include, for example, inbound delivery drivers or safety critical visitors, with good signage and clear visual aids.

As we emerge from lockdown, the Government will require us, more than ever since the current crisis began, to continue to manage the threat of COVID-19 wherever practically possible. So, it will be incumbent on all businesses to think long-term and invest in the appropriate equipment to make sure that people remain properly and fully protected.

This will include the proper use of PPE and face coverings in daily life for at least the foreseeable future. Wearing a transparent anti-fog and scratch-resistant protective face shield, approved to UK National Healthcare Service standards, may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms. This type of protection is designed to prevent the spread of virus by protecting the eyes, nose and mouth, while also preventing the user from touching their face, and can be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible.

Moving forward

Coronavirus face screenMoving forward, it’s important that employers continue to support their workers in using face coverings safely, if they choose to wear one, providing advice and following official guidance about wearing them in the workplace.

In these difficult days, good signs and effective labelling practices protect, advise and inform, which help to keep people safer and healthier. Consider incorporating them in your plans – after all, they are among the first line of physical defence in the battle to defeat COVID-19 and amplify public health messages in the workplace with clarity and resonance.

In the post COVID-19 landscape, it will be critical to ensure workforces remain effectively protected, stay safe and minimise the possibility of the virus reoccurring. It’s also important to recognise that each workplace with its own unique set of virus risks, will be different. However, the adoption of what are essentially common sense measures, together with good quality equipment will continue to be highly effective in the daily fight to mitigate the risks.

A sound strategy can help to minimise the risks, so tailor your decision-making to meet your specific needs – the one-size fits all approach won’t always work in an environment where the balance between a return productivity and people’s wellbeing will continue to be paramount. Consider your requirements in terms of quality, reliability and performance, and consider also how your supplier can add value in helping you understand the role that signs play in securing a safer tomorrow.

Download: October 2020 Legislation Update

COVID-19 continues to bring unprecedented challenges for people, businesses and societies. To help you navigate the confusing and fast-changing regulations, guidance and legislation – covering not just the coronavirus pandemic, but fire and building safety and the environment – get your free copy of the October 2020 Legislation Update.

    • Latest COVID-19 measures and legislation;
    • Fire safety and post-Grenfell safety regime;
    • Brexit;
    • Environment legislation updates;
    • Latest health and safety fines and prosecutions;
    • And much more...
April 2020 Legislation eBook

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Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
3 months ago

April 2020 Legislative Update – couldn’t be more focused on “Work Exposure Limits” EH40 just missed out the 1998 PUWER Act let alone failure to update the seriously ineffective UK 1993 DSE Regulations following the HSE’s own Better Display Screen RR 561 2007 or 2018 ISO 45001 or UK Gov Accessibility Regs, one would assume or presume making a fool of all of us, would insist on compliance with WCAG 2.1/2 and the 2019 ISO 30071.1 covering both Website and Display Screen “Interface Colour Contrast Validation” in order to mitigate the other Global Pandemic in visual repetitive stress injuries scaled… Read more »

Ben Thomas
Ben Thomas
3 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Dupree

What on earth are you going on about Nigel?

Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
3 months ago
Reply to  Ben Thomas

Just talking about Government and HSE known knowns since 2007 and the various UK and International legislation or regulations covering occupational health and safety highlighting retrospective and current omissions in 2020. Presenteeism now exceeds the costs of absenteeism by 6 fold and that excludes to social costs of double the £33bn plus costs of 20% lost productivity when you include the 58% of DSE operators suffering the visually debilitating consequences of “carrying-on regardless” of, so called “temporary” eye-strain, CVS or Screen Fatigue now scaled as a the other Global Pandemic – loss of 3D binocular vision. Every employer has a… Read more »

3 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Dupree

Regulations, guidelines are all man-made and contributions from all practitioners can only make them better

Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
3 months ago
Reply to  ridzwan

Of course, “children are not covered by Occupational Health Legislation” yet, today with home schooling likely to spend as much time on-screen as their parents and will predictably be at the same risk of eye-strain as their parents without adjustments, adaptation or optimising their Screen Colour Contrast in compliance with ISO 30071.1 The S.M.A.R.T. Foundation has developed a Display Screen Optimiser (DSO) for schools and during C-19 have made it free to anyone in education. Needless to say anyone under 16 will need to be supervised.