This was a document I never imagined I’d ever be writing and it felt like an overwhelming task. Where should I start? Well, I started by googling ‘Covid Risk Assessment’ for guidance and found…..nothing! Because of course this is relatively new.
We’re very grateful to have been busy enough (after a short furlough period) to need the team back at work. Some of us can work from home and we’re lucky that our premises are relatively large, which allows everyone else to keep appropriate safe distancing. But is that safe enough?
We’ve introduced several measures to keep things as safe as possible and many of these could be applicable to your workplace too. Our Risk Assessment is a work in progress and we will regularly update the document as we have new ideas. But, right now, there’s little guidance out there and some of our ideas could be helpful to you.
1. Sanitiser stations
We have chosen to set up sanitiser stations in 3 key areas:
By the front door – everyone is to use this before coming in and as they leave
Outside the toilets – everyone is to use this before and after using the toilet
Outside the kitchen – everyone is to use this before entering or using the kitchen
This doesn’t have to cost a lot. We’ve sourced 500ml bottles of sanitiser and screwed push-down dispensers onto the top for easy dispensing. I’ve ordered clips, so that these will be attached to the wall. We’ve ordered a 5L bottle of sanitiser so that we can top up these bottles, rather than ordering more. We don’t want to waste plastic by ordering fresh bottles each time.
2. Separating the work area into “zones”
We have separated our workplace into “zones” that include the office, the artwork room, the pre-production area, the DTG room, the screen printing area and the post-production area. Every person has their designated zone and each zone only has one person working in it at a time, with the exception of the screen printing area, which is large enough to do this safely.
If someone is moving into a zone other than their designated zone and they expect to need to touch something, it is their responsibility to use hand sanitiser first. Everyone has their own bottle of sanitiser on them, in their tool belt! We will add signs and hazard tape to help remind people at the point between zones, if this seems necessary.
3. Tool belts
Covid-19 can be transferred from one person to another via surfaces and so it’s super important to minimise the number of surfaces touched by more than one person. We use tool belts so that each person can carry around their own items, all the tools they might normally need in a day. For some people that might include spanners and tape measures, for others that might be pens, tape and scissors. Everyone has their own personal bottle of hand sanitiser.
My geeky side is really enjoying this one – I could colour code for England.
Now that everyone has their own tool belt, we have divvied up all the biros, sharpies, scissors, tape measures, rulers, Stanley knives and mini sanitiser bottles so that everyone has their own. I actually think this will more than pay for itself in time saved, looking for lost items.
We’re using electrical tape to colour code everything. Everyone has their own colour, that will generally relate to their zone. Their tool belt and water bottle will also be colour coded.
We do have three phones on the system at work but we’d never bothered to learn how to transfer a call and it was about time we learnt! There are only really 3 people at work that talk on the phone so, guess what, the phones are going to get colour coded too! Everyone is to use their phone only or, if they do end up using the wrong phone, to sanitise the phone and themselves afterwards.
5. Bring your own
No more popping to the shop at lunch time. Everyone brings their own packed lunch, their own water bottle and their own cutlery for eating it.
6. Wiping down shared surfaces
The last person to leave the building is generally responsible for checking that everything has been properly switched off and shut down properly, to reduce energy use and for safety reasons. We have a shutdown checklist and everything has to be ticked and initialled at the end of each day.
We have added to the shutdown list to ensure that door handles, taps and light switches are wiped down at the end of each working day.
7. Fresh air
Easy and pleasant in the Spring, Summer and Autumn – we open the fire door and the giant roller door at the front of the building. This might not be appropriate in the winter but it’s great to have a through draught of fresh air, whenever possible.
8. Keep out
Normally we love having visitors but that just isn’t appropriate, or necessary, right now. For courier collections, we put boxes right at the door so that, ideally, the courier doesn’t even have to cross the threshold.
We now have a notice on the front door to discourage visitors. We also have hazard tape on the floor 1.5m in, to highlight the threshold, which visitors cannot pass.
9. Clean as a whistle
We have a cleaner that comes in regularly to deep clean the kitchen and the toilets. This encourages everyone to keep their areas clean and tidy and it also feels good to be in a clean and (usually) tidy space.
10. Keep your cool
One of the first symptoms of Covid-19 is a high temperature. Everyone has been given a thermometer to keep at home, so that each of us can take their temperature every morning before work. They have been asked to notify us and to stay at home if their temperature is high (more than 37.8°C or significantly higher than usual). Everyone has a temperature chart to record their temperature, to act as a reminder but also to highlight any irregularities.
I’m writing this during lock down, the number of daily deaths due to Coronavirus are dropping, and people are starting to starting to think about a gradual return to some normality. That loosening of lock down will bring benefits but it will bring dangers too. It’s our responsibility to look at all areas of our lives, put measures into place to protect ourselves and others. Be creative – think beyond masks and 2m spacing. Many of the changes won’t be that difficult and they might just save lives. Good luck!