As an employer, you must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus (COVID-19).
Coronavirus can transfer from people to surfaces. It can be passed on to others who touch the same surfaces.
Keeping your workplace clean and frequent handwashing reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread and is a critical part of making and keeping your business working safely.
It is important, now more than ever before, to organise your work and workplace, to ensure optimum hygiene standards are maintained, surfaces are clean and people are provided with the right facilities to control the risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).
There is separate advice from HSE on the following links:
- use hand sanitiser products and surface disinfectants
- disinfecting premises using fog, mist and vapour
Handwashing and using hand sanitiser
Consider using signs and posters to help your workers practice good handwashing techniques and to remind them to catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue or the crook of their arm and avoid touching their faces.
- handwashing facilities with running water, soap, and paper towels or hand dryers
- hand sanitiser in areas where people are unable to wash their hands, such as sanitising stations in shops
- hand sanitiser nearby for people getting in and out of vehicles or handling deliveries, if they are unable to wash their hands
- information on how to wash your hands from NHS.UK
Additional handwashing facilities
When completing your risk assessment, consider if you need to provide additional handwashing facilities so that people can wash their hands frequently.
Consider how often people should wash their hands, depending on where they work and how many contacts they have with others.
This will also help you to decide if and where you need to provide additional washing facilities.
If you cannot provide additional handwashing facilities, you may need to provide hand sanitiser instead near to frequently used areas.
When you complete your risk assessment, think about:
- providing handwashing facilities at entry/exit points so people can wash their hands when they arrive and leave work – if this is not possible, provide hand sanitiser
- where to have extra handwashing facilities so people can wash their hands frequently
- making sure your handwashing facilities have running water, soap and paper towels or hand dryers
- identifying where extra hand sanitiser points are needed in addition to washing facilities
Cleaning the workplace
You may need to increase how often and how thoroughly you normally clean your workplace, as well as cleaning surfaces that you do not normally clean.
If you are cleaning because of a known or suspected case of COVID-19 in your workplace you should follow the GOV.UK guidance.
You should determine what cleaning regime is suitable for your business based on your risk assessment.
Your risk assessment will help you to identify what your cleaning regime will look like, but you should consider these examples:
- keep surfaces clear so that cleaning can be carried out more effectively
- clean areas regularly in line with your cleaning regime
- set clear guidance for the use and cleaning of toilets, showers, and changing facilities to make sure they are kept clean
- clean work areas and equipment between uses
- frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly
- if equipment like tools or vehicles are shared, then clean them after each use
Identify frequently touched surfaces
Doors, banisters, buttons, and anything that is frequently touched, especially if it’s touched by lots of people, may need more regular cleaning than normal. Examples of frequently touched objects include:
- work surfaces like desks, platforms, and workstations
- handles on doors, windows, rails, dispensers, and water coolers
- common areas like toilets, reception, changing rooms, corridors, and lifts
- vehicle handles, steering wheels, seat belts, and internal surfaces
- control panels for machinery, control pads, and switches
- computer keyboards, printers, touch screens, monitors, and phones
- taps, kettles, water heaters, fridges, microwaves, and cupboards
- shared equipment like tools, machines, vehicles, pallet trucks, and delivery boxes
- post and goods coming in or being shipped out
Consider putting in place measures to clean surfaces and objects after each use, for example, phones and conferencing facilities in a meeting room. If it’s not practical to clean after each use, such as lift buttons that are used continuously throughout the day, make sure they are cleaned often.
Cleaning regimes could involve deep and periodic cleaning.
Deep cleaning is a thorough clean of all frequently touched surfaces at least once a day.
Periodic cleaning is cleaning at different times throughout the day. It can include cleaning items immediately after use as well as cleaning surfaces on a regular basis throughout a single day.
Workstations can be cleared at the end of the day or shift to make cleaning easier. Clean workstations in accordance with your cleaning regime.
As part of their COVID-19 risk assessment, employers who provide accommodation for their workers should determine a suitable cleaning regime. For example, considering:
- accommodation units
- shared communal areas
- bathrooms, toilets, and washing facilities
Reduce the need for cleaning
Reducing people’s contact with surfaces and objects can reduce the amount of cleaning needed once contact has taken place.
Think about how you can change the way you work to reduce people’s need to touch surfaces or objects, including:
- allocating specific work areas or vehicles to specific people
- creating small groups that can work independently on tasks
- closing off spare workstations and putting away items that you don’t need
- propping open doors to avoid the need to touch handles (excluding fire doors or other doors that must be kept closed)
- fitting automatic sensor operated doors or footplates to doors so they can be opened with feet rather than hands
- issuing door hooks to workers so they don’t have to touch handles
- reducing equipment available to reduce the amount that needs to be cleaned
Your usual cleaning products should be effective. If you change your usual regime then check that products are suitable for the surface and environment. Clean cloths and other reusable cleaning products in soap and water after use.
Store cleaning products safely and always use them at the concentration as recommended by the manufacturer.
Disinfecting premises using fog, mist, vapor or ultraviolet (UV) systems
Fog, mist, vapor or UV treatments may be suitable options to help control the spread of the virus, by cleaning and disinfecting a larger space or room.
Bathrooms, toilets, and washbasins
When completing your risk assessment, review the provisions you have in place to make sure they allow people (including visiting workers) to wash their hands frequently. Consider whether you need to provide any additional washing facilities.
To protect people when using existing washing facilities, you should:
- keep the facilities well ventilated, for example by opening windows and vents, where possible and making sure any mechanical ventilation systems are working effectively
- decide how and when to clean bathrooms, toilet,s and handwashing facilities
- provide running water and soap
- decide who will replenish soap, paper towels, and hand sanitiser
- provide hand drying facilities – paper towels, continuous roller towels or electrical dryers
- consider using signs and posters to increase awareness of good handwashing technique
Consider cleaning vehicles regularly, particularly between different users. Cleaning could include commonly touched areas in vehicles including:
- handles (inside and out)
- steering wheel and starter button
- centre touchscreen and stereo
- handbrake and gearstick
- keys and key fob
- indicators and wiper stalks
- windows, mirrors and mirror switches, seat adjusters, and any other controls
Encourage people to practice good hygiene before and after using the vehicle. Provide hand sanitiser where necessary.
Cleaning – staff arrangements
Some organisations may decide to have full-time cleaning teams. Smaller organisations may need fewer cleaning staff. Other workers can also play a part. You should determine what is needed for your business based on your risk assessment.
Provide cleaning staff with their usual personal protective equipment (PPE) for cleaning where this is necessary.
Cleaners should wash their hands regularly with soap and water, including when they finish work. Consider providing hand sanitiser when washing facilities aren’t close by.
Ensure cleaning staff receive good instructions and understand the importance of carrying out thorough cleaning safely.
Talk to your workers and provide information
Talk to all your workers and encourage them to co-operate with cleaners. They can make sure that surfaces are left clear at the end of the day so that deep cleaning can be done more effectively. Papers or items left on surfaces might make cleaning less effective.
Keeping people informed about any changes to cleaning, and the reasons for it reduces the chance of uncooperative staff. It may also reassure your workers that you are doing what you can to keep them safe.
You could use posters to inform people that regular cleaning will take place and that they should co-operate with cleaners.
Where you expect equipment users to clean their equipment after use as part of your cleaning regime, posters can help to remind them of their responsibilities.