return to work
COVID-19 hygiene safeguards: What do SMEs need to do?
Businesses have had to adapt considerably in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, not least in terms of how they maintain a hygienic space. Regardless of the industry, hygiene is now of paramount importance to protect both staff and customers alike. But what is required in order to safeguard a commercial space and how can SMEs protect their premises from the risk of bacteria? Business Growth Consultant Daniel Groves discusses some COVID-19 hygiene safeguards for SMEs.
Get the right cleaning products
When choosing products for cleaning, it’s important that they have disinfecting properties which meet BS EN standards. Make sure that the product labels have one of two codes: BS EN 1276 or BS EN 12697 – this will ensure that they’re able to tackle bacteria properly and fully disinfect the space.
You should also note the instructions on the packaging, as some products require a certain amount of contact time with a surface in order to clean it efficiently.
Install antibacterial gel stations
While we’re all aware that washing our hands regularly is vital to keep the virus at bay, it’s also a good idea to install antibacterial gel stations around the premises so that staff or customers can keep their hands clean throughout the day with ease.
Make sure that you have gel stations installed at entrances and exits to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as at key points throughout the office.
Minimise the need to touch
Touching surfaces or products is a big problem in terms of tackling COVID-19 – in fact, it’s one of the primary ways in which the virus is spread. SMEs need to minimise the need for staff, customers or visitors to touch things, whether it’s office equipment, products or doors and windows.
This can include leaving doors open so that handles don’t need to be touched to enter or exit a room, as well as using hands-free antibacterial gel dispensers so that people can safely keep their hands free from bacteria.
Hands-free washrooms are also a great idea, such as sensor-driven taps or hand dryers and removing flush handles on toilets, so that the risk of bacterial spread is reduced.
The outcome of the pandemic is a new normal and it can be easy for people to forget the rules and regulations, whether it’s wearing a mask, keeping their distance from other people or washing their hands more regularly than they would normally.
Having physical signs around the office can help remind people to stay safe and will safeguard the business against the spread of the virus. It’s also a good idea to have this messaging on your website and social media channels as a further caution to protect customers and third parties.
Allow staff to work from home or work in bubbles
As a business, you want to protect your staff and one easy way to do this for many industries is to allow staff to work remotely so that they can keep their distance and avoid the risk of catching COVID-19.
With so many communication tools and collaboration software options to choose from, it’s easier than ever to work flexibly and still be efficient. If it’s not possible for your staff to work from their homes, another alternative is to install screens and partitions around cubicles or workspaces so that staff can work from the office but still be protected.
Clean more regularly
While you no doubt had a thorough cleaning schedule in place before, now is the time to reassess when and how your premises are cleaned so that you can ensure it is maintained more regularly. Bacteria can spread alarmingly quickly, so staying on top of a cleaning schedule that ensures surfaces are kept free from germs is of paramount importance.
The government has guidelines for non-food-related businesses in terms of when and how often to clean, so keeping your schedule in line with this will ensure that your premises are as safe as they can be.
This means disposing of cloths or mops once they’ve been used, using disinfectant products and using PPE when cleaning to avoid transmitting the disease, especially if cleaning an area that someone with COVID-19 has come into contact with.
Keeping safe during these challenging times requires more care and attention to areas of running a business that perhaps were not a focus before, whether it’s the cleaning products used or how people can access facilities. But by making a few amendments to how a business is run, you can protect visitors and staff while still operating your company efficiently.
Coronavirus advice for employers
This hub page complies all the latest government coronavirus updates. It includes what you can and cannot do in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, workplace advice from multiple sources, including information on welcoming staff back to the workplace and the latest vaccination information.
It also contains a host of useful external links and resources to find further information.