5 Step ‘Return to Work’ Plan for Northern Ireland Businesses
Re-opening any business can seem a laborious task. In these unprecedented times, this task can seem overwhelming. However, whether a resumption of operations remains weeks or months away, it's always best to have plans in place to ensure a smooth transition for both your business and staff. That’s why we have put together our 5-step ‘Return to Work’ plan to provide you with guidance on how to effectively manage back to work processes.
1 Preparation and Planning are Key
Like any business objective, we know that the key to successful implementation is in the planning. To begin, try to determine when your business will likely be re-opening. This will give you a clear idea on how to formulate and conduct a COVID19 risk assessment and action plan. Ensure you review the most up to date Government guidelines to fully understand when a safe opening should be planned for or liaise with enforcement authorities, legal professionals and insurers as to the most up-to-date information.
2 Create an Internal Response Team
The safe and successful management of staff against exposure to COVID19 within the workplace requires a team effort. To be successful, you will need to create an internal business response team. From team leaders, sanitation supervisors to communication advocates; the expressed aim of this team should be to ensure the business continues to implement health strategies to reduce the potential spread of COVID19 within the workplace.
3- Reshape and Adjust Workspaces
Consider all spaces where your staff pass through, congregate or occupy throughout the normal working day. If workspaces have been closed for the past number of weeks, consider deep-cleaning to minimise potential COVID19 spread.
Factor in the workspace. You may need to separate workstations or adjust floor plans to keep employees distanced. In doing so, plan for occupancy. This may involve staggering arrivals and departures or sequencing tasks so that risks are reduced.
In areas used by staff throughout the day- be that food preparation areas, washrooms, or meeting rooms- assess the risk of COVID19 exposure and take appropriate action; ensuring daily cleaning schedules are followed and re-enforced. This also applies to main touch points through the workplace, for example- door handles, stair rails and lift buttons- it is crucial to identify these hotspots and provide sanitation stations to ensure minimal spread.
In addition to social distancing through demarcation, screening and task sequencing; enhanced cleaning schedules and regular handwashing will be critical after re-opening. Ensure that all equipment is regularly cleaned, and that hand sanitizer is available and used by employees. Reinforce the message that cleaning is considered a core activity.
4- Keep Employees Informed
To ensure all staff are fully aware of the actions the business will be taking to safeguard safety; compile information detailing what the business is doing and what staff are expected to do. This should re-enforce the need to maintain a healthy and COVID19 free workplace; be that through social distancing within the office, handwashing, surface disinfecting and cleaning.
Equally important, is the requirement to reassure staff returning to the workplace. Whether they have continued to work remotely or if they have been furloughed; all staff should be ‘re-inducted’ into the business with a key focus on health and well-being. This will also give you the opportunity to inform staff of new business protocols and brief them in respect of new rules and PPE requirements.
5 Plan, Review, Adapt, Repeat.
‘Return to work’ plans should be monitored, assessed and updated. Rushing a return to the workplace may increase the risk of employees being exposed to COVID19. Therefore, all policies and procedures should be subject to regular monitoring and review. Where necessary, work with the corresponding departments such as HR, health and safety or external advisors, as well as government websites.
It is important to remain flexible at this unprecedented time to ensure the successful re-opening of your business and a healthy, reassured work force.
ABL Group provide tailored Return to Work plans that are bespoke to the client risk profile and will highlight the organisations legal compliance, protect employees and visitors and satisfy enforcement authority standards.
For further information, please contact:
David Sinnamon, Risk Manager
T: 028 9099 3673
M: 073 8481 8145
ABL Group offer clients assistance in establishing the controls required to return to work in compliance with the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (NI) Regulation 2020. Our Return to Work plans are bespoke to the client risk profile and will highlight the organisations legal compliance, protect employees and visitors and satisfy enforcement authority standards.
ABL Group offer a careful balanced combination of risk management and insurance solutions – all designed around the specific needs and budget of each individual client