Four things you can do to make sure your work environment is safe

Last week, the UK government announced their plans to begin the phase out of lockdown measures. And one of these measures was a return to work for those that cannot work from home, but stating that ‘for the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible.’

But for those that are not able to work from home, like workers in manufacturing, construction or distribution, then the next logical question would be – how do I make sure or know that my workplace is safe during this pandemic?

The government has produced some health and safety guidelines for workplaces to ensure that risks are minimised and the spread of the virus is reduced as much as possible.

So, we’ve put together four main things that could be effective in making your workplace as safe as possible. Some are quite obvious steps but some you may not have thought of!

Ventilation

It’s important that your work environment is well ventilated, especially if it’s in an enclosed environment. Ventilation has always been important at work, for general health and wellbeing, but it’s become even more important now.

A well-ventilated environment increases the amount of fresh air coming into the workplace and this can help with filtering out the virus that could be lingering on and around surfaces. The government and their scientific officials have already mentioned that the virus isn’t transmitted as much outside as it is indoors. So, making sure fresh clean air is always coming into your workplace could really contribute to reducing the risks around the coronavirus.

This could be done through the simple act of making sure windows and doors are frequently opened to encourage natural ventilation.

But this may not always be possible. So, this is where air sterilisers come in. These are devices that use a technology which creates UV light, ozone, photoplasma, and negatively-charged ions.  These all exist in the environment already and are powerful methods of disinfection. They eliminate odours, bacteria, viruses, mould, and can break down unwanted chemicals and compounds.

We’ve previously discussed at length how air sterilisers work, but they’re effective against a number of known bacteria and viruses, and get into those hard to reach places. For example, areas that may not have windows or doors for natural forms of ventilation. And of course, you could have sterilisers as well as open windows and doors!

So, air sterilisers can be a really great step towards promoting hygiene in your workplace in a time where it’s especially needed.

Cleaning the workplace and objects

A key aspect of going back to work is going to be regular and thorough cleaning. This will definitely have to be more frequent than the usual cleaning practices from before the virus outbreak.

The virus is able to live on surfaces for up to 72 hours, so this step is crucial to ensuring your work environment is safe.

Work areas and equipment will need to be cleaned between uses. But also objects in the workplace such as door handles, keyboards, and devices, will also need to be cleaned frequently between uses. This applies to any area or object that has come into contact with a person.

As well as cleaning, it’s important that work areas are cleared at the end of each working day, and waste is disposed of regularly also. Definitely no overflowing bins! This ensures any used products or items that could be harbouring the virus are disposed of correctly out of the workplace.

Limiting or restricting use of high-touch items and equipment

As well as cleaning items and equipment, it might be a good idea to also limit the use of things that are frequent contact points. Or limit the number of people using them, maybe even assign a person to each of these items or pieces of equipment.

Examples of these include printers, whiteboards, phones, and the trusty kettle! Limiting the use of these can reduce the spread of germs and minimise the risk of spreading any virus present.

Adequate hand washing and sanitisation facilities

Arguably, the most important step is having the facilities to accommodate for increased hand washing and sanitisation. At Intelligent Facility Solutions, we’ve launched our ‘To the Pump’ campaign. This is a range of ‘back to work’ products for cleaning the workplace and workers, and includes hand sanitiser gel, dispensers, and antibacterial soap, amongst many other products.

It’s recommended in the government guidelines that signs and posters should be displayed around the workplace outlining good handwashing technique, the need for frequent hand washing, and the need to avoid touching your face.

Along with signage, it’s important to make sure your workplace is equipped with the necessary hand washing facilities, as well as hand sanitiser in multiple locations outside of washrooms.

Hand drying facilities are also key to the hygiene process. Wet hands harbour a lot more germs than dry hands, which adds to the risk of spreading any virus present in the area. These can be either hand dryers or paper towels, depending on the needs of your workplace.

We previously wrote about some of the myths circulating about hand dryers coming with an added hygiene risk. But both hand dryers and paper towels have their pros and cons and both methods are completely fine when it comes to the coronavirus. The most important thing to remember is to wash your hands thoroughly and dry them properly, no matter the drying method used.

Summary

To recap, the four main things to consider when ensuring your workplace is safe for your workers to return to:

  • Making sure your work environment is well ventilated
  • Ensuring regular cleaning of work areas and objects/equipment
  • Limiting or restricting use of high-touch items and equipment
  • Making available adequate hand washing and sanitisation facilities
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