IS YOUR BUSINESS SAFETY PLAN READY FOR ALERT LEVEL 3?
We have now officially entered an Alert Level 3, which will bring a sigh of relief to many businesses, but will still hold severe restrictions for others.
By now, those who intend to re-engage in business need to have a robust safety plan in place. It is important these are continually reviewed and improved as necessary, as we take learnings from ourselves and others. Let’s recap where we are at.
To operate safely at all alert levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses must ensure the health and safety of workers. This means ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable:
the health and safety of workers (e.g. employees or contractors, including their subcontractors or workers)
the health and safety of workers whose work activities are influenced or directed by the business (e.g. a franchise company whose franchise requirements influence or direct the workers of the franchisee)
This means minimising all risks that a work could be exposed to, by:
isolating workers from risks,
substituting higher risk procedures with lower risk activities, or
putting in place engineering measures to mitigate the risk.
In addition, at all alert levels, businesses need to meet all public health guidelines. These include, at a basic level:
Regular disinfecting of surfaces;
Encouraging good hand hygiene by allowing frequent hand washing and sanitising;
Not having sick people in the workplace; and
Meeting physical distancing requirements. Physical distancing at work could include:
Placing a solid barrier between workers e.g. plastic sheeting, solid partitions; and/or
Allow additional space between people e.g. empty desks.
If there is still risk, then administrative controls may used, and if the risk remains then personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used. PPE should not be the first or only control used.
Businesses should carefully consider how to safely operate at each alert level based on their individual circumstances. So, what else could Alert Level 3 look like in terms of Health, Safety and Wellbeing measures? Here are a few ideas:
Re-introduction to the Workplace
Consider how you will communicate changes to workplace operations or protocols, without having one big group meeting on the first day of work. Preferably your workers will have most of the information before they return to work e.g. through a Zoom meeting, accompanied by clear written instructions. This gives them a chance to ask questions before they start, and everyone knows what is expected of them as soon as they arrive.
Contact Tracing Records
Under Alert Level 3, for each location of work (e.g. office, warehouse, building site, client site) a register of attendance will be required, for providing the Government with any information related to Contact Tracing for COVID-19. This means that there must be an accurate record of:
Each person who has been on each site
When they have been on each site
Who they have been on each site with
Think carefully about how these will records be managed. For example: What is the sign-in/report in (and out) process? Does this contain enough detail, and could it be contactless?
You will also be responsible for keeping accurate records of contactless customer deliveries or collections, for the purpose of Contact Tracing.
Review your communication modes, frequencies and effectiveness for the new environment.
Ask your team what they need to know more or less about
Consider signs, posters or other visual reminders of safety precautions. There are many already designed online and that can be printed and hung.
Employee Facilities Management
Think about all your communal spaces e.g. lunchrooms, bathroom facilities, smoking areas, and whether they are adequate for the new conditions.
Are there enough hand-washing stations?
Do you have supplies of hand-sanitiser?
Do you have a revised cleaning schedule for kitchens and bathrooms?
Do you need to set up additional sheltered space where people can physically distance themselves during breaks etc.?
How will upcoming Autumn/Winter weather such as rainfall affect your workers and the spaces they can use whilst still be physically distant?
What appliances can be used e.g. will communal fridges be used?
What hygiene practices must be observed in lunchrooms? e.g. everyone must wash hands on entry and before exit, touchless rubbish bin lids
How many people may be in a lunchroom or smoking area at once? e.g. phased break times
How can you ensure only one worker at a time in bathrooms?
Is there adequate ventilation systems or heating?
This may be one of the most complex areas because it may also involve consulting with employees over a temporary change to their normal hours of work, or break times.
Limit the number of people who share a space (even with physical distancing) – where possible, the same people every shift
Split shifts or activities – making smaller “work bubbles” to limit exposure to others
Reduce handovers or cross over between shifts
Clean between shifts e.g. entry door handles, bathrooms, kitchens etc.
Remember your Remote Workers. It would be easy in all the complexity of returning some workers to work locations, to loosen contact with those who remain working from home. These people still need your regular communication and connection. They begin to feel more isolated as they lack visibility to what is happening for those who have returned to onsite work.
WorkSafe, the Ministry of Health and also Industry organisations have issued specific guidance for certain sectors and kinds of workplaces. If in doubt, you can contact WorkSafe, your Industry organisation or your local chamber of commerce or BusinessNZ for what they are recommending.
If you want to consider how to consult with your Employees and/or your Health and Safety obligations, communications, wellbeing options or potential solutions, short or long-term, then please feel to call us at K3 Consulting.