August 4, 2020

How to Ensure Business Continuity as Lockdown Eases: The Need for Ongoing Review

Friday 31st July saw the Prime Minister delay further easing of lockdown measures and the Chief Medical Officer warned that the country may have reached the limits of lockdown easing if the spread of COVID-19 is to be controlled.

This came in the same week that large parts of North West of England had tighter restrictions imposed on social gatherings within the household.

For businesses that have already re-opened, or those that continue to operate normally through lockdown, there may be no immediate impact from easing these measures. However these actions should be seen as a reminder that the virus is here to stay with us for some time. With this in mind, business owners should consider how they may need to further adapt to the longer-term implications of operating through this global pandemic.

How Businesses Can Be COVID-Secure

The Prime Minster went on to state that guidance for those able to work from home has not changed and where possible people should continue to work from home. However, employees should not be concerned about returning to a workplace if it is COVID-secure. The Prime Minister also reminded everybody that the Health and Safety Executive have the powers to take action against employers who had not implemented the COVID- secure protocols.

Whilst the devolved governments have slight variations, broadly speaking the five key requirements for a COVID-secure workplace are:

  1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
  2. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures
  3. Help people to work from home if they can
  4. Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible
  5. Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk

What is Expected of Employers

As the pandemic continues, scientists are learning more about the virus, its transmission routes and the best ways to limits the spread. This means that government guidelines and restrictions are frequently evolving in line with scientific advice.

Health and Safety regulations require risk assessments to be reviewed regularly, and one of the triggers for a review is changing technical guidance. This means that risk assessments completed a few weeks ago may already need to be reviewed and updated. Similarly, any business currently completing a COVID risk assessment should look to review their assessments in a few weeks’ time.

Another trigger point for a review is when the risk assessment is no longer deemed to be valid. Normally this is triggered by a workplace accident, near miss or hazard report. The COVID protocols an employer puts into place will be new to employees and initially will be untested. It is likely that these may need to be changed or tweaked in the early weeks of implementation and it would be prudent to ensure your document risk assessment accurately describes the controls in place today.

With homeworking now turning into a longer-term arrangement, there are some key health and well being concerns to consider as these measures continue, primarily mental health and musculoskeletal disorders. Employers should start to look at the arrangements they have in place to protect the health of their workers.

Alternatively, returning to the workplace after lockdown may be daunting to some workers and trigger new stresses. Employers will need to consider how returning to work can be handled to reduce stress and encourage communication around their employees’welfare.

Local Lockdowns and Business Continuity

The current local restrictions haven’t yet prevented people from attending work, but that doesn’t mean that future restrictions won’t see the closure of workplaces such as specific shopping centres or industrial parks.

Employers need to keep their Business Continuity Plans updated and take simple steps to mitigate against short term disruption, such as:

  • Look to ensure all laptop users take their laptops home to allow a return to homeworking if necessary.
  • Keep staff working in bubbles, limiting the number of people who may need to self-isolate if a colleague tests positive.
  • Split work between two locations if possible, allowing for continued output should one location be closed or subject to strict local lockdown.

How can Moorepay Support Businesses

Since the middle of March, the Health and Safety team at Moorepay have supported hundreds of businesses owners with their COVID risk assessments through a variety of approaches, from over the telephone to onsite support. Our Health and Safety experts are therefore well placed to understand the operational requirements of your businesses and able to assist in the ongoing review of procedures that keep your workers, customers and others safe whilst minimising the impact on your day to day operational requirements.

Speak to our Health and Safety team to find out how we can support you.

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About the author

Karis Lambert

About the author

Karis Lambert

Karis Lambert is Moorepay's Digital Marketing Executive, having joined the team in 2020. Karis is CIM qualified, and keeps our customers up-to-date with Moorepay's market-leading knowledge and advice through our digital channels, including the website.

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