As business owners who can operate in some capacity under Alert Level 3 am sure you have been frantically busy preparing your workplace for re-opening on Tuesday.
Have you compiled your COVID19 safety plan with all the requirements? Ensure you include all the risks associated with the spread of COVID but also any risks from being closed for 4 weeks (such as machinery needing servicing before operating / tools not been used / vehicles needing WOF) or risks from having to make changes (such as introducing rotating shifts). Where there is change, there is potential risk. So ensure you have that covered on how you are managing this risk. Remember psychological risk factors (such as stress and fatigue) also needs to be considered.
What does preparing look like?
1. Thorough clean of your workplace initially before re-opening, ensuring all surfaces are disinfected.
2. Supplies of soap/ sanitising products/ disinfectant available.
3. Engage with your workers on returning to work (how are you managing your workers are fit and safe to return to work? Perhaps issue a 'Return to Work declaration' ensuring your workers have not been exposed to COVID, have they been tested? Have they had COVID? If so, you will need a medical clearance ensuring they are fit to return to work. Do they have any flu-like symptoms?) These are the questions you need to be asking to ensure that COVID is not being introduced right into your workplace.
4. Prepare your areas to ensure the MINIMUM 1 metre physical distance (how will you ensure this? Are you using barriers, tape on the floor, staggering meal breaks, moving desks, splitting shifts, postponing some tasks/activities). For any work that is required, where there are members of the public around OR work in residential houses - the 2 metre distance must be maintained.
5. Develop your contactless operations (Are you taking online orders only and organising contactless couriers, are you a workshop organising contactless key drops and payments, are you scheduling virtual meetings with clients).
6. Develop your hand hygiene system (Are you relying on soap and water hand washing only, how and where will this be available, are you supplying sanitiser, supplying gloves - what, when and how will this be required).
7. Coming into winter season, develop a cough/sneeze etiquette system. (Are you supplying tissues and have a system for disposal of these?).
8. How often will you be cleaning your workplace and surfaces with disinfectant? Who will do this? How will you ensure you do not run out of supplies?)
9. How will you monitor your workers for any flu-like/COVID symptoms? (Periodic assessments? Temperatures checks?) How will you support any workers with flu-like symptoms? (Flexible leave arrangements? Work from home?) Remember any person who has flu-like symptoms MUST leave work in case it is COVID. what is your system for suspected COVID cases?
10. Do you have vulnerable workers? Either immune compromised or Over 70. How will you manage these workers? (Will they work in isolated areas? Have PPE?) Ensure you consult with them.
11. Have your contact tracing register system ready. Who will manage this? You need to ensure all your workers and the areas they are in are detailed, as well as any person who you come into contact with. (A daily sign in sheet for area?)
12. Do you have staff working from home? Have you got a system in place to ensure their health and safety in their home office? Do they have the right equipment? Are you ensuring they are not overloaded with work given children could be home? How are you ensuring they are safe from domestic violence? How are you checking in with them?
Ensure your COVID19 Safety Plan has all of these details. You must have a documented/written plan.
***Engage with your workers***
Engage with your workers on how you are managing risk to COVID - give them a say, chance to have a view. If you have H&S Reps, involve them.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY!! Communicate with your workers on ALL safety systems you are implementing, explain what you are expecting from them and WHY. The number one complaint Worksafe has had during Alert Level 4 is due to workers not UNDERSTANDING.
And keep in regular contact with your workers to keep them up to date and get any feedback from them.
Whilst we are still having NEW cases of COVID19 in NZ, we must tread carefully still.
As a PCBU (Person who Conducts a Business or Undertaking) ie a Director/Owner, any person who has influential control MUST ensure the health and safety of ALL your workers.
Worksafe are going to be checking on businesses under this level, ensuring they have the right information to open safely as well as seeking compliance that businesses are in fact operating safely and of course if they have their safe systems documented in a COVID19 safety plan.
Worksafe have a template COVID19 safety plan you can use if you wish - however you can use your own format, as long as all the required information is detailed on how you are operating safely.
I hope this has given you some clarity on re-opening requirements under Alert Level 3.
Review your COVID safety plan regularly, make changes if something is not working, consult with your workers. The Ministry of Health guidelines are the minimum and MUST be adhered to.
This is all new unchartered territory for all of us, we are all in the same boat, so be kind to yourself.
Kia Kaha. Stay safe. You've got this.
If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.