Josie Broadstock is head of Altum HR. She gives advice on socially distancing at work

LAST week I looked at some of the legal aspects to the return to work.

Key to this is ensuring that staff can work at a safe social distance. This week’s tips should help fulfil your obligations from a practical aspect.

The Health and Safety at Work Act, informs employers that they have a responsibility and duty to maintain the safety and wellbeing of not just their employees but also anyone who attends their site. This could be a mix of members of the public, consultants, third parties and agency workers.

The business needs to conduct a risk assessment. You can do this yourself without the need for professional help.

The most practical way to do that is to go around the workplace while nobody else is around. Put yourself in the shoes of each employee and think about issues like what door are they going to need to touch and open? Are they going to be able to wash their hands after they have done that? Do they need to have full access to the kitchen facilities? Does that present too much of a risk to multiple people?

A walk around of the site will give you an idea as to whether you’re going to need to provide additional PPE. For example, you might need to place hand sanitizer stations, where there aren’t hand washing facilities. Consider pinch points like entry areas in and out of an office door, for example, where at certain times of the day, people might kind of do the dance that we’ve all done in a supermarket because you’re a little bit too close to each other. Those pinch point areas could be areas of conflict, so you could create passing points marked on the floor with tape where no-one is to enter unless the way is clear.

Document and even photograph it all to provide the basis of your risk assessment. In doing this you have identified risks and ways to mitigate them. If you can’t mitigate a risk you might not be able to bring some, or any staff back to the workplace.

You need to ensure that your social distancing policy is written and implemented properly in your business. Staff should be thoroughly trained in the implementation of the policy. Ideally, get the staff to sign to say that they agree and understand to adhere to the policy. This is important as staff will largely have to police themselves. Similarly, think about visitors to site.

Any Social Distancing Policy breaches should be dealt with and enforced in the same manner as you would deal with any other policy breach.

In short, for a safe return to work everybody needs to stay away from each other. Just because everyone is beavering away in work doesn’t mean that they are well. As we all know, this awful disease can be passed on very easily.

As always, we are here at Altum HR to guide and support. If you think we can help, call or email and one of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.