Social Distancing and returning to work
Bellrock’s view upon social distancing is based around the fundamentals laid out on the UK and Scottish government guidance websites as supplemented by the guidance from HSE.
Before any site should be opened there is one key question to ask:
Are you able to demonstrate and give confidence to your workforce that you can consistently practice safe social distancing and comply with ALL other standard health and safety requirements?
The key challenge as an employer is how to practically demonstrate that your environment is safe and that guidelines are being followed. The websites listed below are excellent for overall frameworks but should be tailored for the specific site operational conditions, layout activity levels etc.
The general principle is well understood that in order to minimise risk, a social distance of two metres between individuals should be maintained. Where this is not practicable, appropriate PPE equipment must be worn.
Upon re-occupation, there are several elements to work through at a practical level. The following are our suggested top five best practices for consideration.
Ingress and egress:
- Upon re-opening a site, how are you ensuring that individuals can enter and exit the building individually at safe distances. Typical features such as floor markings, signage and the use of door security staff may need to be employed
- You may also consider staggering the time people enter and maintain a set count of staff and visitors onsite to manage capacity
Maintaining safe distances inside the site:
- The two-meter rule is applicable both indoors as outside
- Some organisations have implemented a one-way system to walk around the building in a consistent manner
- In an office environment where there likely to be desks and tables, thought should be taken to ensure that there is sufficient space between each individual
- Link this back to an enhanced cleaning regime
- Consider stopping the use of meeting rooms entirely, and perhaps stopping visitors coming to site until such times as rules have been relaxed
- Revisit your fire evacuation procedures as it may no longer be possible to evacuate in the way you have planned. Also, consider the muster points and the need for distancing in the event of an alarm
- Consider implication on the number and locations of fire marshals
Common or shared use areas:
- Consideration should be given to common areas such as a staff kitchens or canteens. Can this actually be maintained safely, or should it be closed off for the duration of social distancing?
- Toilet facilities will also need to have access monitoring to prevent overcrowding
- Remember signage around hand washing and ensure that where possible, hand sanitiser is provided
Collections and deliveries:
- The guidance also applies to receipt of or goods and services such as post or supplier deliveries
- Can you ensure that there is an area where such items can be dropped off without direct person to person contact
- Can you ensure appropriate sanitiser provision in that area
- Can you postpone the delivery or have it sent to another site
PPE will still be part of the answer
It may not always be possible to maintain two-metre distancing measures. Where this is the case and the site must remain operational, then appropriate PPE must be provided to those within that environment. In our own business, our engineers, surveyors and construction staff are not able to maintain distancing guidelines and therefore PPE regime has been set up. Working conditions will dictate what measures an organisation will need to take. The best advice is laid out on the government website.
- UK government advice on social distancing
- Scottish Government advice on social distancing
- UK Government Health and Safety Executive advice
- UK Government PPE advice
Our teams of surveyors and engineers have worked throughout the epidemic and have helped numerous organisations improve the operational environment to enable them to continue operating. From the highest risk Covid-19 hospitals, through to educational establishments that have remained open and many government buildings, our team can offer practical support and help in restarting your estate.