Social distancing is one of the key principles used to reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19. With a new, more infectious strain on the rise, it pays to revisit your approach to the social distancing measures across your builders merchant sites. 

Back to basics – a refresher on social distancing rules   

In line with government guidance, employees should aim to keep at least two metres away from customers and each other at all times. Where this isn’t viable, employers should consider if the activity can be redesigned to allow two metre social distancing or drop to one metre with effective mitigation measures in place. These may include: 

  • Installing physical barriers, such as Perspex screens on trade counters to separate staff and customers. 
  • Creating working ‘bubbles’ or partnering colleagues to reduce individuals’ circles of contact.  
  • Boosting cleaning procedures and handwashing frequency. 
  • Avoiding face-to-face working and keeping task activity times as short as possible.

Tips on stepping up social distancing precautions

  • Avoid physical greetings such as handshakes and elbow nudges. Instead, keep a clear 2-metre distance from colleagues and customers and opt for a verbal ‘hello’ instead. 
  • To minimise crowding in shared spaces such as kitchens and break rooms, stagger arrival, departure and meal times, place seating a safe distance apart and reduce the number of tables and chairs to meet maximum occupancy limits. 
  • Observe foot flow through your retail space, aiming to cut congestion and contact. Smart changes to your shop layout could include easy-to-follow signage, floor markings, one-way systems and queue management measures.
  • Review site processes and the placement of workstations – for example, spacing out tills on the trade counter. Floor tape and painted markings can also be used to create clear exclusion zones.
  • Avoid face-to-face meetings where possible. Instead, conduct meetings online or over the phone. If unavoidable, make sure that only absolutely necessary people attend and hold the meeting outdoors or in a well-ventilated room at a safe social distance from each other.
  • Post social distancing reminders at site and shop entrances and, during busy periods, aim to limit the number of people on the premises at one time. 

How to heighten cleaning and hygiene measures 

  • Dial up disinfection routines for frequent touchpoints including door handles, staff handheld devices, drinks machines, trolley handles and forklift controls.  
  • Ensure all employees end their shift by sanitising workstations, vehicles and canteen tables, where appropriate – and make suitable cleaning products or wipes readily available across your site. 
  • Use alcohol-based sanitiser to keep counters and card machines virus-free, particularly following customer chip and PIN payments.
  • Explore going cashless, requesting customers use debit or credit cards over the phone, online or by contactless pay.
  • Reinforce all entrance and exit points with handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser and display clear signage to remind staff and customers of good hygiene practices, from frequent handwashing to catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue. 
  • Promote meticulous hand hygiene by teaching team members to wash their hands with soap and hot water frequently, thoroughly and for a period of at least 20 seconds. The tap should be turned off with a paper towel to prevent hands from being re-contaminated.

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