With the recent lockdown-easing roadmap announced by the Prime Minister, many businesses are now considering how they will safely return their staff back to the workplace.

Government guidance indicates that where staff are able to work from home, they should continue to do so until at least 21st June. Where staff are returning to the workplace sooner – in line with the Government roadmap for returning businesses and their roles being identified as business-critical – we have prepared a list of things to consider and discuss with staff prior to them returning to work. 

COVID-19

When staff are recalled back to the workplace, it will be essential that they continue to follow the controls outlined within your COVID-19 risk assessment. Whilst the vaccinations continue to roll out at pace, and the number of staff in workplaces with vaccinations increases, all staff must remain vigilant of the following:

  • All staff, including those who have received either their first or second COVID-19 vaccination, are still required to comply with social distancing rules and to follow the controls identified within the COVID-19 risk assessment.
  • All staff must continue to self-isolate immediately if they develop symptoms of COVID-19; all staff must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days if they test positive, whether or not they or their colleagues have been vaccinated.
  • The 2-metre social distancing rule remains in place for all staff, including both during work and during welfare breaks. Close contact work should be avoided, but where this does take place, ensure it is recorded within your risk assessment. 
  • Face coverings must be worn in the venue and for all staff working in all communal and public-facing areas.
  • All staff must continue to wash their hands and use the hand sanitisers provided regularly. 
  • The sanitising of common contact points after use remains critical.
  • Follow the capacity rules for restricted areas (e.g. limits on the numbers allowed in staff rooms and other recognised tight spots, such as dry stores) and set clear occupancy numbers for the venue. 

Site Changes and Emergency Procedures

Some staff may not have been on site for several months, and the operation and layout of the site may have changed. Similarly, you may have implemented changes to emergency procedures. You must inform the staff if they are likely to be affected by any changes to the layout or emergency arrangements at their place of work. 

Health and Safety Hazards

Whilst COVID-19 remains a priority for all businesses, over the past year, there has also been a spike in general accidents and injuries across many sectors. It is advised that all staff are reminded of the high-risk activities and controls at your venues. You should consider asking the staff returning to work to review the Health and Safety documentation and risk assessments relevant to their roles, which are in place. 

Near miss, reporting continues to be a key part of ensuring workplaces remain as safe as possible. Staff should be reminded of the importance of reporting near misses. If something doesn’t look right, then report it. 

Food Safety Hazards

Staff returning to work should review the Food Safety documentation in place, most significantly the food safety management system procedures and HACCP. Also, consider reviewing the allergen policy, including reiterating how allergens will be handled in both the front of house and kitchen sections. After considerable time away from work, these strict procedures may no longer be at the forefront of employees’ minds.

Mental Health Awareness

The pandemic has had an adverse impact on all of us; some have been affected more by personal circumstances and the challenges they have faced. All businesses should acknowledge mental health is important and provide their staff with access to the mental health awareness e-learning on Safety Cloud, or similar from your training and/or health services provider.