We are calling on schools and workplaces reopening under new Government guidelines to consider our multi-disciplinary expertise to help interpret and implement major changes to adhere to ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidance and help protect the community and businesses.
Associate and CDM Manager Francis Hunter, who heads up our health and safety teams, says it is impossible for offices, classrooms, construction sites and manufacturing sites to return to normal whilst following social distancing rules and other health and hygiene measures related to the coronavirus without fundamental operational changes.
The government has already announced a return to work for eight key industries, as well as a phased reopening of primary schools on June 1 as part of new measures to ease lockdown. Non-essential shops have been given the go-ahead to reopen on June 15.
All workplaces must complete a health and safety risk assessment of coronavirus and display new ‘COVID-19 Secure’ certificates before staff can return.
Firms that fail to take action risk enforcement proceedings by the Health and Safety Executive or local authorities that could result in fines or criminal prosecution.
Francis said: “It’s almost impossible for schools and workplaces to go back to how they were before and maintain social distancing at all times.
“Corridors aren’t wide enough, staircases are too narrow, kitchens are too small, entry and exit points don’t have one-way flows. In addition, there is work needed to review internal air changes and air conditioning systems required.
“It just can’t be done and everyone including the government acknowledges this.
“We are therefore advising worried headteachers, property managers, business owners and others sat on the fence about reopening to follow government advice to inspect and find out just how exposed they are to possible coronavirus outbreaks and share their findings honestly with employees.
“Risk assessments are not new concepts, especially for schools and businesses, but implementing social distancing and other coronavirus health and safety measures is new territory and a real challenge that could require sweeping changes to physical layouts and work cultures.
“We must not fall into the trap of underestimating or ignoring these coronavirus-specific risk assessments. Wrong action could lead to devastating health, legal and economic effects.
“Everything we took for granted needs to be recontextualised and redesigned, and if employers do not feel 100% confident in becoming ‘COVID-19 secure’ then we advise them to get a sense check – a second expert opinion – to find out now how to mitigate risks in their specific environments and reopen as safely as possible whilst adhering to the guidance.
“This expertise will focus around space planning and a review of air changes by building services engineers.”
Our multi-disciplinary services for COVID-19 specific risk assessments include:
- - Re-occupation Assessment Report:
- Tenant’s demised areas and Landlord’s common parts.
- Space planning to assess social distancing requirements to include: (a) overall workplace/building capacity, (b) circulation routes, (c) useable desks, (d) signage, (e) hygiene stations, (f) protection screens etc.
- Services engineering review of HVAC systems and air changes to meet BCO and CIBSE guidance.
- Health and Safety assessment in accordance with Workplace Regulations.
- Setting our procedures to be included within Re-occupation Plan and staff Handbook.
- Efficient obtaining of contractor’s quotations and swift implementing of any modification works required.
- Interim inspections to ascertain if the plan is being adhered to and reporting to property manager.