Returning to work during Covid-19
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5 steps to stay Covid-19 safe when returning to work
You may be feeling nervous about the thought of returning to work soon. Or maybe you’ve already returned to work and are unsure of how to carry out your usual activities safely. In either case, or if you’re just curious, we’ve put together a brief guide of 5 essential steps you should be taking in the workplace.
First of all, it’s important to understand how Covid-19 works. So how does it spread? As we know it currently, the virus is spread through respiratory droplets. These droplets are released from a carrier when sneezing or coughing and are left on surfaces. These droplets can be inhaled by others from the air. They can also be ingested when a person touches the contaminated surface and then touches their eyes, mouth or nose.
Protecting yourself from Covid-19 in the workplace
Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes a facemask (preferably medical grade), gloves, and hand sanitiser. For better protection it is worthwhile to get a medical grade N95 respirators. However, failing this, using other surgical masks and face coverings is still better than nothing. When returning to work your employer might require you to wear a facemask and gloves, or they might not. It currently is not a legal requirement to use PPE at work, but we highly advise you to do so anyway. To ensue your own safety, it may also be worthwhile to clean your desktops frequently with sanitizer. To be extra precautions you might want to consider sanitizing all surfaces before you touch them. For example, doorknobs, taps etc.
Post-Covid-19 Full Body Health Check
It may be worthwhile to get a health check to see if you are someone who is at high risk of complications from Covid-19. It is also a good idea to get an antibody test to see whether or not you've had the virus. Both health checks and antibody tests can be carried out by Qured at your home. If you begin to feel any symptoms of Covid-19, contact your employer immediately. Following this you should not be attending the workplace, and should follow your employer’s guidance and protocols.
Travelling to the workplace during Covid-19
It currently is a legal requirement to wear a facemask on public transport in the UK, this includes taxis and ridesharing. It is not a legal requirement to wear gloves. We recommend trying to avoid public transport altogether. It is safer, healthier and better for the environment to walk or cycle to work. It may be worth asking other employees to set up a carpool if you own cars. However, if these are not an option then make sure to wear PPE when commuting.
Ensure employers are complying with regulations
Employers have a duty to ensure that employees are returning to safe working conditions. They are required by law to run a working risk assessment. This includes acknowledging who at work is at risk, if the type of work runs a risk, and deciding how likely Covid-19 exposure is at work. If there is any risk at all, employers should be taking measures to reduce these. For example, social distancing guidelines should still be followed at work, meaning working spaces should be two meters apart. It has also been advised that workspaces adopt a one-way system, provide hand-sanitizing stations, and open more entrances and exits than usual. Your employer may also choose to stagger shifts, meaning allocating employees different times of the day or week to come in, in order to reduce numbers at the workplace. Your employers may ask you to work from home to reduce risk.
Make sure your workplace is Covid-19 safe
Know your rights! Employers have a duty to consult their people on health and safety and update them frequently on Covid-19 related requirements. Employers and workers should always keep in communication about safe working conditions and resolve any issues that arise. If your employer has not run a risk assessment or are making you work in unsafe conditions, it is important that you bring this issue up. If employer has not conducted risk assessments or are making you work in unsafe conditions, this could be a serious breach of health and safety law. If concerns cannot be resolved upon discussion then you should take further steps.
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