Since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, UK businesses have had to drastically change their working procedures to help tackle coronavirus in the workplace.
Every employer has a legal duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure the safety of employees in the workplace. This means that they need to ensure that the way work is carried out does not have any negative impact on the health of their employees or others affected by their work, including customers and members of the public.
This has seen most businesses putting new plans in place for the safe working of their staff that could include working from home or social distancing measures in the workplace where working from home would be impossible.
However, for tradespeople working in the community such as repair services, fitters, meter readers, plumbers, cleaners, cooks, visiting childcare providers, and surveyors, working safely during the pandemic in other people’s homes presents more risks because they are not working in strictly controlled environments such as permanent offices or workplaces.
The UK government issued guidelines published on 11th May 2020, called Working safely during COVID-19 in other people’s homes. They have since updated this guidance on the 24th June to cover the new guidance on support bubbles, social distancing and feedback from industry.
The newly updated guidelines give employers more clarification about guidance on test and trace service, guidance on safer travel and to provide guidance on managing security risks.
Basically, the new guidelines recommend that workers maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) wherever possible.
Handwashing is also recommended on arrival as is regular cleaning of vehicles using gloves and cleaning products, travelling with the same individuals, allocating the same workers to a household where jobs are repetitive, and maintaining social distancing when entering the home.
Issues faced by tradespeople
There are risks posed for some in-home services, such as tradespeople entering people’s homes to carry out their work. It is recognised that it will not always be possible to maintain a safe physical distance from customers in their own home.
Under these circumstances, extra attention needs to be paid towards cleaning and only carrying essential equipment to get the job done to help reduce risks to both employee and customer.
Employers can discuss with householders ahead of their visit to ensure that social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) are maintained if possible.
The householder can be asked to leave all internal doors open to reduce contact with door handles for the visiting worker. You should also advise your employee to take their own food and drink and to take their break outdoors where possible.
Automating your work procedures
Automating your working procedures during the pandemic will help your business to stay on track with this ever-changing situation. To continue to maintain the health and safety of your workers you can control or eliminate risks in the workplace by setting up a system that everyone is aware of, understands and can operate safely.
This will help to reassure your employees that you have their health and safety at heart and that there are measures in place to protect them. This is a critical move at this time where the situation is so fast-moving and new information is being released on an almost daily basis.
Using your corporate language and having all your line managers repeating the same message will help to reassure your employees working in the community that you are handling the situation smoothly and safely.
How to automate your coronavirus safety processes
Workforce has produced a very useful guide outlining the steps your business can take to automate and simplify your Coronavirus health and safety procedures. This guide will help you set up an automated system that makes your working procedures much easier for your employees to follow.
The comprehensive guide produced by Workforce covers seven key points of automating your working processes, such as:
- Customer confirmations (sending an automated email to each customer before the work takes place)
- Revising work schedules (to make sure cross-contact within teams is kept to a minimum)
- Assigning tools (to prevent potential cross-contamination)
- Using cleaning checklists (to not forget some of the items they need to clean)
- Customer communication (using automated text messages to remind clients of their preparation tasks for the visit)
- Creating posters for vans (to remind employees of your PPE rules)
- Utilising training apps ( to brush up on safe COVID-19 practices)
Workforce provided a real-time management solution for Field Service & Service Management businesses. This software solution helps to enforce your health and safety guidelines, increase productivity, reduce paperwork, save admin time, and helps to reassure your employees that you have safe working practices in place to protect them from risk.