Returning to the workplace in a safe environment

Nick Holden MSyI  M.ISRM, Managing Director at NexusProtect provides Chamber members with an update on what employers need to be aware of and your obligations to ensure the Health & Safety of both employees and visitors… 

In May 2020, the government set out its “roadmap” to ease the current Covid-19 restrictions, set out in a document entitled Our Plan to Rebuild.

The governments approach involves various steps designed to gradually enable people to return to the workplace in a safe working environment. Some of the measures that have been implemented over the past months, include the reopening of non-essential shops and restaurants, bars and hotels. Now the emphasis is on businesses, if not already, making plans to get their staff back to work.

Alongside the plan, the government published eight separate guides containing information for businesses and workers, aimed at assisting them to safely manage the process of returning to the workplace. These have since been updated.

All employers have obligations to ensure the health and safety of both their employees and visitors to their premises. Implementing a carefully considered return to work plan and updating it in line with ongoing government guidance will be critical to your business.

Key Elements:

  1. Devise a ‘Back to Work’ plan using government guidance and local knowledge of your workspaces and working requirements. If required, please consult with Public Health England (PHE)
  2. Consult and include your staff and unions if required in the planning.
  3. Look at the sustainability of the plan both physically and financially (staff hours, cleaning routines, cost of PPE, cleaning products etc.)
  4. Incident Plan – What if you have an outbreak or there becomes a local lockdown.


Make sure everything you do is supported by risk assessments and if required advice from Public Health England (PHE) or other suitable subject matter experts.

Other things you should take into account is your businesses ability to continue to have home working on a more permanent standing.

  1. Have you got a suitable IT infrastructure to support prolonged home working, especially in areas of security and resilience.
  2. Have the staff been provided with the right equipment to work from home? Have you taken into account the security of their home Wi-Fi?
  3. Welfare – How are you looking after your staff’s welfare? You used to be able to have a face to face meeting, see how they are etc. This may not be as easy now. Arrange ‘safe’ face to face meetings.
  4. How are you monitoring their productivity?
  5. Do you now need your current office space?

There are many questions that need to be asked but this could be an ideal opportunity to review the way your business operates, how it looks now and what it needs to look like in the future. Although I have no doubt that there will be pain, the outcome could be a more streamlined and effective business with happier employees as well as clients.

Take this opportunity to look at new ways of working, better ways of working and do not be frightened to ask other businesses how they have coped and adapted to the new world we live in.

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