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As many firms begin the gradual process of returning from lockdown, they will need to plan for what is likely to be a staged return to the workplace.

The following should act as a useful guide for firms in preparation of reopening and operating under tight protocols 

1. Risk Assessment

  • It is vital you conduct a thorough risk assessment – when the government allows your business to reopen.  Some firms may have a greater exposure to COVID-19 than others, so its vitally important to carry out a risk assessment before you open the business.
  • Check out the latest information from the BSI, which has published new safe working guidelines to help businesses manage a safe return to work and reoccupation of their facilities.

2. Reopening preparation

  • It is likely that your business will need to make social distancing protocols, which will be specific to your industry sector. It may also be necessary to change the layout of your workplace.  In addition you will be required to clean and disinfect the workplace thoroughly.
  • You should consider introducing new rules and procedures for staff at the workplace, to include for in-person interactions and physical contact. Depending on the nature of your business, it may also be necessary to introduce employee scheduling.
  • If your firm uses commercial vehicles it’s vitally important to enforce social distancing, cleaning and hygiene practices while operating them.
  • Establish a response team that recommends and oversees workplace protocols to control the spread of COVID-19

3. Employee screening

  • Consider implementing a screening procedure for staff before they enter your workspace so you can identify any potential Covid-19 cases. Employees who test positive or believe they have been infected should be instructed to follow the advice of a medical professional and self-quarantine. Staff who are symptomatic or who have tested positive should not return to work until official government conditions are satisfied.

4.   Training materials

  • Provide staff with safety information, which clearly explains the protocols around social distancing, use of PPE, personal hygiene, workspace cleaning responsibilities, and any industry-specific considerations.
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BSI, in its role as the UK’s National Standards Body, has published new safe working guidelines to help businesses manage a safe return to work and reoccupation of their facilities.

The guidelines are intended to become a consensus of good practice and BSI encourages the business community and members of the public to have their say and share their learnings and insight on safe working to help protect public health. Version 1 of the guidelines is available for immediate use.

It provides a framework for business owners, senior leaders, managers and workers to protect people at work from the ongoing risks related to the coronavirus.

Comments are invited on Version 1 until 12 June by following two simple steps:

1. Review Safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic – General guidelines for organizations V.1

2. Submit comments

Working with an Advisory Group*, BSI will revise the document as frequently as necessary to reflect the dynamic situation businesses are in today, taking into account the comments, government guidance, the level of risk and emerging knowledge. A second Version of the guidelines will be published at the end of June with the revised sections clearly highlighted to assist easy implementation.Each Version of the evolving guidelines will be sector neutral and aligned to and complement the current UK Government guidance.

Scott Steedman, Director of Standards at BSI said, “Since the UK Government announced gradual easing of the lockdown, business leaders across the country have been taking steps to ensure that their working environment is safe. Now it is imperative that they come together to achieve their shared goal.

“Our role as the National Standards Body is to bring people together so they can share their expertise and knowledge and agree what good practice looks like. Together we can help to make the working environment safe for all.”

The freely available guidelines use the Plan – Do – Check – Act approach (PDCA). The guidelines provide a framework to enable ongoing continual improvement and ensure the organization responds to changes as the business community learns more about safe working and government requirements evolve.

The guidelines include examples in relation to workplaces such as:

  • Plan one-way systems in corridors, stairways and other common areas and taking other actions to mitigate the risks where this is not possible
  • Do implement processes to stagger arrival and departure times to reduce crowding at entry and exit points
  • Check how effective safety measures and controls are
  • Act to take immediate actions to improve or change safety measures and controls that are not effective

To download Version 1, have your say on the safe working guidelines and/or sign-up to be alerted for the latest versions visit: https://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/topics/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-guidelines/

 

IFM is working to ensure we limit the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and our team are available to answer any questions you may have. A list of IFM contacts can be found by clicking here

We have also provided some useful information to help you and/or your business through this difficult time.

 
Government Support

There is a range of support available from the government to help local firms through the coronavirus pandemic.  This includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and business support grants to help with business rates. 

More information can be found by visiting

www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/your-city-council/coronavirus-support-for-business

 
Reporting a claim

We would like to reassure our clients that we continue to handle their claims during the coronavirus lockdown period by providing the highest level of service. 

So if you have an ongoing claim or a new claim please contact our dedicated Claims Team who will be more than willing to assist.

You can reach our Claims Team as follows:

Vicky Linley This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0114 268 8627 
Jayne Carr This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0114 268 8625
Elaine Gilberthorpe This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0114 268 8605
 
Protecting your business premises

With many premises closed due to the coronavirus lock down, business owners should take measures where they can to protect their assets.

Business premises from offices to factories can contain a wide range of valuable items - from computers to expensive plant equipment.  Below is some basic advice to help make sure your building premises remain safe and secure during the current lock down.

  • Ensure doors and windows are secured, to protect against theft of equipment from inside a property.
  • Ensure locks conform to British Standard.  It is likely that a requirement of your office insurance policy is that your lock is to BS 3621.
  • Prevent unauthorised access and protect the perimeter of the site with the erection of temporary fencing, bollards, anti-climb paint.
  • Deploy an electronic security system and CCTV cameras.  If you have an intruder alarm system, ensure that this is suitably maintained and in good working order.
  • Undertake a simple risk assessment to ensure all plant items are in a secure, locked area and access is monitored.
  • Keep important documents in locked cabinets or drawers.   Back up virtual copies to an off-site hard drive.
  • Ensure utility and electric systems are switched off to reduce the risk of fire or water damage.
  • Drain all fuel and water tanks and systems.
 
Insurance and MOTs

It is usually a condition of motor insurance that motor vehicles; where the law states they must, should have a valid MOT and absence of such might cause problems in the event of a claim.

On 25 March Government announced its intention to grant MOT exemption in battle against coronavirus.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vehicle-owners-to-be-granted-mot-exemption-in-battle-against-coronavirus

The insurers response to the decision to extend MOTs on vehicles is positive.  We expect there to be no implications, as long as vehicles remain roadworthy and motorists are not ignoring obvious safety issues.

Motor insurance demands that any vehicle which requires one, must have a valid MOT however most insurers are saying that absence of an MOT certificate in itself, will not invalidate the cover.  It is important however to note that:

  • The vehicle would likely have been expected to have an MOT prior to the Government announcement of March 25; and
  • Insurers may reserve the right to satisfy themselves that the insured vehicle was roadworthy if an accident occurs, and no MOT is available, and the circumstances deem it prudent to do so.
 
Working from home

With the majority of us now working from home, we should all check that our home insurance policy covers us to do so.  Below are some keys points, which should help.

  • Working from home, due to the need to self-isolate should be covered by standard home insurance policies, assuming that the work is clerical in nature.
  • If individuals are working from home and receiving visitors to their home on business matters, they should check with their insurer. In some cases, there may be some restrictions in cover, such as loss of money and theft being excluded unless there is evidence of forcible and violent entry to the property.
  • Business equipment used (e.g. laptop) is likely not to be covered. However, in most cases the employer would be liable for ensuring their equipment is insured away from the office.
  • Working from home can present a cyber security risk and your computer could be open to a cyber-attack.  Read our top tips to protect against a cyber attack below. 
  • Ensure laptops and other computer equipment are securely stored when they are not in use.
 
Cyber-security tips for employees working remotely

To ensure your employees and your business remain protected from cyber hackers, below are some useful tips on mitigating the risk.

  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi.  Using Wi-Fi provides hackers the opportunity to position themselves between the user and the public Wi-Fi router so they can potentially intercept the user’s data.
  • Think about using a VPN.  Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) secure your data as it travels between your company's internal computer network and your employees' remote laptops and desktops.  VPN provide additional cyber security by hiding the user’s IP address, encrypting data transfers and hiding the user’s location. Only use a reputable, secure VPN service to access company portals and cloud environments.
  • Use up-to-date software.  Make sure employees working from home use the latest software updates.
  • Be careful when transferring company data.  Ensure that all office-issued laptops or other devices are configured to deny access to external storage devices.
  • Back up data.  Make computer-system backups mandatory within your company and ensure that you are using secure, company-managed online backup services.
 

 

 

 

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