Creating a Covid-secure workplace is all about stopping the transmission of the virus, making it as hard as possible for it to pass from one person to another.
We are required to demonstrate that our workplaces are Covid-secure. Risk assessments should be in place in both clinical and non-clinical environments and updated to reflect changes in guidance.
Creating your Covid-secure workplace
You should work with your team to think about how you can best organise your work area, including considering whether staff are able to work from home.
To ensure social distancing, colleagues should always work two metres apart. You can also arrange your seating so that you can sit side by side or back to back, to avoid facing one another, however, in all set-ups, colleagues should maintain a distance of two metres.
Quick desk checklist
You should ensure that your work stations are cleaned regularly, particularly if you are working in an office that requires you to hot desk. You must keep a log to demonstrate that cleaning has occurred.
At the start and end of each day you should:
• Clean the following with a disinfectant wipe:
- Work surface
- Chair arms
- Keyboard and mouse
• Remove any rubbish, cups and dishes you have used and clean or dispose of them appropriately
• Wash your hands after cleaning your desk
If you are hot-desking, you should not leave any personal items on the desk overnight.
Frequent cleaning and surface decontamination
The coronavirus can live on surfaces longer than 72 hours (three days). It is important we are following strict cleaning measures in both clinical and non-clinical areas, paying special attention to used equipment, furniture and high touch points.
A study found people touched their face an average of 23 times per hour. Nearly 50% of those touches were to their mouth, nose and eyes which are known to be 'gateways to infection.'
Think of the power of a sneeze. A sneeze can spread microscopic droplets as far as eight metres and land on surfaces, furniture and other objects waiting for someone to come into contact with them. By then touching their eyes and mouth that person could become infected with the virus if the person who sneezed was already infected.
When thinking about frequently used touch points in your work area, consider all the items, objects and surfaces that will need regular cleaning. These might include:
- Light switches
- Cupboard and door handles
- Backs of chairs
- Jars of coffee, boxes of tea, etc.
De-cluttering the workplace and reducing surfaces
Another way we can slow the spread of this virus is by reducing the number of surfaces for it to land on. By removing cupboards, desks and other objects that are not being used and putting them into storage we are the virus less space to live on.
Storing your personal belongings in lockers or locked drawers, and storing clothes in changing rooms, means you won't be taking the virus home to families and household members, or vice versa. Similarly, avoid touching other people's clothing if they are stored in a communal area.
Research shows that being in a room with fresh air can reduce your risk of infection from particles by over 70%, as fresh air disperses the particles.
Dependant on the work environment it is not always possible to open windows and doors to encourage airflow. Where this is possible and permitted, increasing the air circulation will reduce the viral load in the air, reduce the potential dosage, and not give the virus the opportunity to stick on surfaces.
Please take a look at this short film on the importance of ventilation from the Government on the Trust's YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/Etat68UENZs
- If your work allows, work with your team to agree specific shift patterns for ‘groups’ of colleagues (sometimes known as a cohort), so that a small number of you work the same shifts as the same teams, limiting social interaction.
- You can limit the number of ‘desk side’ meetings by communicating with your colleagues by telephone, email or Microsoft Teams instead.
- Where possible, you can stagger the times that you arrive at and leave work and your lunch breaks or arrange a working at home rota with your line manager.
- Ensure that shared equipment, such as printers, is cleaned regularly.
Workplace assessments for safer working
These workplace assessments are designed to help staff and managers create a safe working environment. It is important that managers work with their team to identify solutions together, as colleagues may have some good ideas of their own or may be willing to work differently to accommodate social distancing requirements.
- Enhanced Workplace Assessment [13/10/2020]
- Working safely with COVID-19 Room review [09/10/2020]
- Assessment Tool for Working Safely during COVID-19 [09/10/2020]
- Download guidance about hygiene measures [17/09/2020]
Staff cohorting guidance
Staff cohorting further complements the use of PPE, hand hygiene and environmental cleaning to further reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission in the workplace.
Posters for staff areas
For information on social distancing whilst on site, head to the Social distancing section