In recent days, many businesses have been busy conducting Covid-19 risk assessments and considering the measures they need to put in place before they can safely open up their premises to essential workers and contractors.
Employers have a legal responsibility to protect workers as well as visitors and contractors, from risk to their health and safety (including from Covid-19) and to do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them.
So if you are a contractor visiting a customer’s premises to do essential work such as conducting a fire risk survey or installing or maintaining fire extinguishers or other fire safety equipment, what health and safety measures can and should you expect to have been put in place for your protection?
What to expect
According to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) measures are likely to include redesigning work processes and practices to allow for physical social distancing and ensuring that adequate ventilation, hygiene arrangements and personal protective equipment are available.
Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Regulatory Engagement at IOSH, commented: “Health and safety must come first. People should not re-enter workplaces until employers are certain that they are properly managing the risk of infection and providing the support that workers need.
“Prevention has to be the focus because, if organisations don’t get this right, workplaces can become places of transmission’.
The Government has issued more specific guidance in its publication ‘Working safely during COVID-19 ’ which includes the following measures:
- Explaining site guidance on social distancing and hygiene to visitors on or before their arrival.
- Minimising the number of people required on the premises at any one time for example by limiting visitors to a specific time window or even arranging for essential services and contractor visits to done at quieter times of the day or during the evening to reduce interaction and overlap between people
- Providing different entry and exit routes for visitors and contractors to reduce contact with other workers in the building
- Creating safe one-way systems around a building to avoid people crossing each other in corridors
- Providing hand washing stations or hand sanitiser at entry/exit points and not employing the use of touch based security devices such as keypads or doorbells/buzzers
- Restricting access between different areas of a building or site
- Reducing maximum occupancy for lifts, providing hand sanitiser for the operation of lifts, and encouraging use of stairs wherever possible.
- Regulating use of high traffic areas including corridors, lifts turnstiles and walkways to maintain social distancing
- Implementing frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, as well as surfaces that are touched regularly, such as door handles
- Having arrangements in place for any suspected cases of Covid-19 going forward, requiring those with symptoms not to enter the workplace.
What steps should you take yourself?
Before visiting a site, we suggest that you follow best practice by:
- Arranging a specific date and time to carry out the work on site
- Asking for information and guidance regarding the on site hygiene and social distancing measures in advance of your arrival
- Checking if the fire exit routes for the building/site have been changed should a one way system have been introduced as part of the social distancing measures
- Protecting yourself and your customers by purchasing a Medichief handy ‘grab and go’ Workplace Sanitising Kit. This is a tough plastic bucket with a tamper-proof, resealable lid which contains:
- 1 x pack of 100 dry wipes
- 1 x 250ml Medichief Surface Sanitiser
- 1 x pack of disposable gloves (25 pairs)
- 1 x 50ml hand sanitising gel
- 2 x pocket tissues pack (10 tissues per pack)
- 1 x clean room tape for marking off a safe working space
- 10 x sealable plastic bags for disposal of used/contaminated gloves, wipes etc
- 15 x sanitised status labels – green
- 1 x marker pen
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