Businesses in Dorset are being urged to update their risk assessments to ensure workplaces are Covid safe for returning employees as government advice changes.
The Dorset Chamber has warned that a wide range of new measures will need to be introduced to comply with health and safety. Its call comes as government advice changed with effect from August 1 giving employers more discretion about asking employees to return to the workplace.
Dorset’s voice of business, the chamber has led the way with a thorough review of its own offices and has placed its own risk assessment online. Businesses and organisations are being encouraged by the chamber to do the same.
Some of the new measures include:
- Limits on staff numbers in office and kitchen
- Perspex screens around desks
- Floor markers
- Work-station spacing
- Temporary halt on visits
- Sanitiser stations for such equipment as photocopiers
Chief executive Ian Girling has also offered to speak to any boss or business owner struggling with the new measures. He said: “Employers must ensure their workplaces are safe for their returning employees. There is a great deal of work involved in carrying out a comprehensive risk assessment and implementing the necessary measures. It is very different to a standard risk assessment and I understand that it may be daunting for some businesses, especially smaller ones, but it doesn’t need to involve a mountain of paperwork.
“Help is available and I am personally very happy to speak to anyone about the measures involved, especially with the change of government guidance from August 1. Protecting employees in this way will give them greater confidence to return, especially if they are apprehensive about going back. It will also help businesses operate as smoothly as possible in the testing times ahead.”
On July 17, the prime minister announced that the Government’s advice would change with effect from August 1. Instead of telling people to work from home, Boris Johnson said that employers would have more freedom to decide whether staff should remain working from home or return to their place of work when it is safe to do so.
According to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, 30% of adults were working exclusively from home at the start of July.
The Chamber – Dorset’s leading business support organisation – is providing a range of support for business and is lobbying at a national level. This includes the Dorset Gateway, delivered by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in partnership with Dorset Chamber, which provides free signposting to business advice and support.
Listen to a brief summary by Ian Girling of the issues: