The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected the British economy. A large number of businesses were forced to close during the lockdown, which, unfortunately, led to them failing to reopen. Others were able to operate in some way or had their staff work remotely, helping business to continue without a physical site. Support also came from the government through emergency relief, such as Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme that ensured most businesses were able to receive the majority of their staff’s basic wage, which staved off unemployment and closure.
As the lockdown ends and restrictions on preventative methods are easing, businesses are beginning to reopen their sites after a summer of closed doors. Some larger offices and stores are doing so with reduced staff, operating with social distancing measures, while others have fully equipped themselves with PPE and returned to full operation.
After such an unusual extended closure, it is important for businesses to reopen safely. This means doing more than simply putting the lights back on. Risk assessments need to be reevaluated and not only for COVID-related measures but also for the safety of a site that has remained out of operation for weeks or months.
After a period of time away from routine, it can difficult for a staff member to return to their previous role. To ensure that few mistakes are made and that safety protocols continue to be followed, it is important to have a refresher course with your employees. Not only is this an opportunity to ensure that each team member is able to perform to the best of their ability but it allows time for reuniting team members, which is a great way to support staff morale.
Site Safety Review
It can be easy to miss the ongoing and necessary checks to ensure that your site is compliant to legislation. Fire extinguishers require regular checks to maintain their effectiveness and electronic devices require PAT testing to ensure their continued safety. As part of your initial walkaround the site, be sure to review the expiry dates of such items.
Additionally, reopening a site can be the ideal time to take on important tasks, such as a fire door survey. During a time of high risk, it is important to ensure that all bases are covered when it comes to safety, so be sure to contact your necessary contractors and technicians.
While your operation may be ready to return, those supplying your stock or your essentials may not be. Delivery times have changed for many companies and stock availability may be more limited than you realise. So, before you open, it is essential that you communicate with all your suppliers to evaluate your operational capability.
Other suppliers, such as electrical and water, may have changed their tariffs or be offering discounted rates to support businesses. It is in your financial interests to enquire with both your own and competing suppliers to find out if there is a better offer available.