To help ensure a safe return to work following the Covid-19 lockdown, business owners need to familiarise themselves with the Government’s recently published Return to Work protocol, says Nikki Johns.
Businesses across every sector of our economy have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic with many experiencing a significant loss of turnover due to the lockdown restrictions. With Covid-19 likely to remain with us for some time, the way businesses operate in future will need to change in order to keep people safe and prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
The Government recently published guidelines to help businesses who are preparing to reopen their workplaces. While it is important to read the full document, some of the key points relevant for employers are set out below. Checklists and templates to help employers adhere to the Protocol for returning to work safely are available on the Health and Safety Authority website.
Return to Work Safely Protocol — Key points for employers
- A Pre-Return to Work form must be completed by all employees at least 3 days before their return to work. Questions to include on the form can be found in the Return to Work Safely Protocol document which is available to download on the Government
- Each workplace must appoint at least one Lead Worker Representative who is responsible for ensuring that Covid-19 measures are adhered to at work.
- Businesses must develop a Covid-19 Response Plan. This should include protocols for cleaning and hygiene in the workplace, social distancing measures, and protocols for dealing with suspected Covid-19 cases.
- Staff must be provided with Covid-19 induction training. This should include up-to-date information on what to do if they develop symptoms and information on how the workplace is addressing and mitigating the risk of Covid-19.
- A contact log must be maintained to assist with contact tracing containing contact details of affected individuals and details of prolonged contact between employees, or visitors to your premises.
- All company policies will need to be reviewed and updated where necessary. This includes policies for Sick Leave, Annual Leave, and Working from Home.
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