Reopening your business post-lockdown
The last year of lockdowns have been tough for business owners and self-employed people. As the world went into lockdown and businesses shut their doors, our world changed overnight. As things start to open once again following lockdown three, now is a great time to look at rebooting your business safely.
There are plenty of things you can do to reopen as safely as possible – three of the key things you should do to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission include:
- Having a COVID-19 risk assessment
- Using NHS Test and Trace
- Reporting any cases of COVID-19 connecting to your business
Carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment
As an employer or someone who regularly works with members of the public, you'll need to put together a risk assessment to outline how you'll mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission throughout your business. This could be updating your existing risk assessment, or creating a new COVID-specific one.
If you have five or more employees, you'll need to make sure your risk assessment is done in writing.
Here are four easy steps to create your COVID-19 Risk Assessment:
- Identify what work or activities could risk transmitting Covid-19. Consider spread via contact with contaminated surfaces and breathing in droplets.
- Consider who is at risk and who has a higher risk if they're contaminated. Consider making changes to the roles or positioning of high-risk people. Higher risk individuals include:
- Older men
- Those with long-standing illnesses like asthma or diabetes
- Some ethnic minorities
- People who are overweight
- Discuss how likely someone is to be exposed to the virus through their role
- Remove any dangerous activities or control their risk by bringing in additional measures. Additional measures may include:
- Regular deep cleaning
- Social distancing
- One-way systems
- Masks and PPE
- Reduced numbers
- Staggered start, lunch and finish times
- Hand sanitiser stations
- Avoid unnecessary noise so people don't need to raise their voices
- Avoid sharing equipment
Keeping records for NHS Test and Trace
To help prevent and limit outbreaks of COVID-19, the UK Government has asked all businesses to use the NHS Test and Trace service. This requires you to take some information from your staff, customers and visitors to make it easier to identify anyone who may have come into contact with the virus.
What information do I need to collect?
- Contact number
- Date and time of contact
- Who they have interacted with – if they engaged with a specific individual
What if people don't want to give their information?
At the moment, the test and trace system is voluntary, although strongly advised. If people are a little nervous about sharing their details, make sure they understand they don't have to, but doing so will help limit any outbreaks and keep everyone safe. Explain that their information will only be used for NHS Test and Trace and will not be shared with any other companies.
How do I make sure I'm still complying with GDPR?
Because you're collecting information for the benefit of public health, it is considered a 'legitimate interest' and is therefore covered under GDPR rules.
To make sure you comply with the full GDPR guidance, dispose of this information safely after 21 days – unless you would usually collect information for other legitimate purposes.
Reporting COVID-19 incidents under RIDDOR
As an employer, you'll likely be used to reporting any workplace accidents or injuries prior to COVID-19. In this new normal, you'll also have to understand how to report any COVID-related issues under RIDDOR.
Although there is currently no specific guidance on how to report cases of COVID-19 in the workplace, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has put together some general advice.
What do I need to report?
You'll need to report any cases of COVID-19 or deaths caused by the virus that can be traced back to a direct result of the work the affected individual has been carrying out.
When should I report cases of COVID-19 in the workplace?
You'll need to make a report to RIDDOR if:
- A worker is diagnosed with COVID-19, and their case can be attributed directly to their work.
- There is an A worker dies following a case of COVID-19 that could be linked directly to occupational exposure.
We understand that this has been a confusing and challenging time for everyone. If you need more information on support available to our policyholders, you can visit our COVID-19 help and guidance page.
The IPSE coronavirus hub also has plenty of information to support and advise you on any concerns about how lockdown and coronavirus have affected your business.
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