Worries and risks
As lockdown eases many organisations will be turning their attention to reopening premises. It is important to think carefully about these decisions and consult about the best approach. Many staff, volunteers and beneficiaries will be worried about how safe it is to be inside, and might not feel ready to visit physical premises for some time.
Any reopening must take into account the up to date guidance from the Scottish Government. This is set out in broad terms with the routemap, but specific advice is being continually updated for different types of setting. There is also the possibility of different advice in local areas where an outbreak has been detected.
It is also important to reiterate that where employees or volunteers can work from home they should continue to do so.
The first step in this process is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, involving employees in the process. The assessment must:
- identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
- think about who could be at risk
- decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
- act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk
If you have more than five employees this must be written down, but it is good practice for all organisations to record what has been agreed. It is also important to agree how often the assessment will be reviewed- it should not be a one time exercise.
Detailed guidance and template assessments are available on the Health and Safety Executive website.
Physical distancing, hygiene and PPE
Government guidance around physical distancing and good hand hygiene apply to all citizens. NHS Inform explain steps we should all be taking and provide materials to communicate this information to the public. It’s important to ensure employees, volunteers and users are following this advice.
Guidance on face coverings should also be followed by all citizens. However, it is important to be aware that discretion is allowed in some cases, for example where a face covering could prevent someone from communicating.
Depending on the outcome of your risk assessment, it is likely that your organisation will implement additional measures to help limit the risks of coronavirus transmission in your premises.
Some of the more common measures could include:
- Limiting the number of people in the building, and in particular spaces such as toilets, at any given time
- Making hand sanitiser and face coverings available
- Providing screens between people, for example at desks or reception counters
- Floor markings to help people maintain physical distancing
- More regular cleaning, with particular care given to communal spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms
- Introducing a one way flow to reduce people passing one another in small spaces
- Display public health messages throughout the premises
Staggered start times and flexible working
To reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, it is advised that organisations stagger start and finish times. This will help to reduce the burden on public transport, and reduce the pressure on pinch points, like reception areas.
You should discuss the best way to stagger start and finish times with employees and volunteers as part of the risk assessment.
If you are inviting external people to your premises you should also consider how you can stagger their arrival and departure.
Community buildings and village halls
If your organisation runs a building or hall that is used by a range of different groups you will be considering a more complicated set of risks.
In this clip Jason Leitch (National Clinical Director) outlines the key points to consider if you are responsible for a shared use community building:
You should check for any guidance available from Scottish Government as it applies to the types of activity covered in your premises, and you may find the links to more detailed information and resources below helpful.
These may need to be adapted to fit your situation, but some key areas to consider include:
- Adding new requirements around distancing, hygiene and cleaning to any hiring agreement (see the information sheet from ACRE below for a template that can be adapted).
- Considering requirement to store personal details of customers as part of the Test and Protect scheme.
- Whether or not the physical distancing rule could be reduced to 1m in line with Scottish Government guidance.
- Whether people in the clinically vulnerable category can be supported to participate in activities safely to reduce isolation. You may find it helpful to carry out a individual risk assessments to help with this decision.
- How activities that involve donated items, food preparation or handling money can be made safe.
- What procedures are in place if someone becomes unwell.
Charity shops should refer to, and follow the Scottish Government guidelines for the retail sector. This includes an operational checklist, template customer notices and information about deliveries and distribution.
As charities shops have a high volume of donated stock, and may see a big influx in donations as people come out of lockdown it will be important to consider how to safely handle these items. This information from Money Saving Expert outlines how some of the bigger charity shop chains are responding to the risks.
Guidance and template forms to help you plan for staff returning to the workplace during the coronavirus
by Healthy working lives
Guidance on the hygiene measures around the opening of public and customer toilets during the coronavirus
by The Scottish Government
This guidance covers: advice on how to prevent spread of COVID-19 including cleaning and PPE information, and advice
on what to do if someone is ill in a workplace or other non-healthcare setting.
by Public Health Scotland
Detailed guidance, including checklists and template risk assessments.
by Church of Scotland
Guidance on risk assessments for small businesses with links to templates.
by Federation of small businesses
Top ten tips for IT systems and security when you reopen your office.
by Alison Stone
Practical guidance to help English village halls plan for reopening. Includes templates and checklists that can be
adapted for Scottish halls.