How to keep your staff safe during the coronavirus pandemic if you are an essential business

Your employees’ health and wellbeing is of paramount importance and if you are the owner of an essential business, you have a statutory duty of care for people’s health and safety in the workplace. Businesses that are essential are those that the public rely on in their every day life including supermarkets, local food shops, pharmacies, off-licences, newsagents, home and hardware stores, pet shops, banks, garages and post offices. The full list of businesses which can remain open and those who should close can be viewed here. Here is our helpful guide to keeping your staff safe in the workplace, including practices you should adopt and why you should do them. It also contains information from the Government, World Health Organisation (WHO) and NHS on safe practices that every staff member should adopt.

What you can do as the retail business owner in the workplace to keep your staff safe

  • Provide soap and hand sanitiser gels to reduce the spread of infection
  • Ensure all staff have hand sanitisers
  • Increase the frequency and intensity of cleaning
  • Frequently wipe down counters, handrails, door handles, drawer knobs etc.
  • Ensure staff are well equipped with tissues
  • Advise your staff to stay at home if they are feeling unwell
  • Display Health & Safety notices relating to COVID-19 prominently
  • Stagger shifts or set up teams so fewer people are in the workplace
  • Regulate the number of customers allowed onto the premises at any one time
  • Adopt queuing rules outside your business making sure they are at least 2- metres apart
  • Take contactless payments and avoid cash payments if possible
  • Keep payment terminals clean

Keeping staff as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic

During these challenging times, it is vital to prioritise procedures that will protect your employees as much as possible from contracting coronavirus. As a business owner, you must take extra precautions to keep your employees safe in their dealings with the general public. You must have plenty of supplies of soap, hand sanitisers and tissues and they must be available in all places that staff use. You will also require lots of cleaning materials and the frequency and intensity of your cleaning programmes should be increased.

Take adequate precautions to limit the number of customers in your retail premises

In order to apply social distancing regulations, you must adapt a controlled queuing system to be monitored by a member of staff and only allow a safe number of customers into your retail premises. Also set up a shift system or adopt a team rota so that fewer employees are on the premises at any given time.

Cleaning payment terminals will reduce the risk of the transmission of coronavirus

Wherever possible, take contactless payments, which will eliminate the need to enter a PIN code. The limit has increased from the current £30 to £45 in order to reduce the need for physical contact. If at all possible, avoid taking cash payments as banknotes change hands frequently and are rarely cleaned or sanitised. Payment terminals should be kept as clean as possible with hand sanitisers available at payment points.

What you should do if an employee or customer appears to have coronavirus symptoms

The main indications of coronavirus are a new, continuous cough and a high temperature. If an employee becomes unwell whilst at work in your retail business, they should be sent home immediately and follow the guidelines for self-isolation. If a member of your staff has helped someone who has become unwell and appears to have COVID-19 symptoms, the Government advice is for the employee to wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after the contact, but they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves.

The World Health Authority has suggested these protective measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus to all essential workers

  • Wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based rub
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Practice respiratory hygiene
  • Wash your hands when you arrive home

Visit the World Health Authority website for more.

Wash your hands more frequently and for a minimum of 20 seconds

Washing your hands frequently in the workplace will kill viruses that may be on your hands. It’s your hands that are the most likely to touch surfaces, counters and door handles and once contaminated can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth.

Social distancing regulations during the coronavirus pandemic

It is crucial to create an environment that fosters social distancing. This measure reduces social interaction between people. Employees should keep a distance of 2m (6ft) between themselves and a customer wherever possible and if staff rest areas are used, the same rules are applicable between staff members.

Catch coughs or sneezes in tissues or on your sleeve to practice respiratory hygiene

If you do need to cough or sneeze, use a tissue to catch it and dispose of the tissue straightaway or use your sleeve. Droplets spread the virus. It is recommended that you do not cough into your hands, but if this happens, wash your hands immediately.

What can The Retail Mutual do for my business?

As you can image in these uncertain times, we have received with enquires about the coronavirus. We have done our very best to respond to everyone in a timely matter. To help answer some of the recurring questions, we have created a coronavirus resource hub. In this hub we have FAQ’s, useful Government links and information, as well as other useful content that can assist you through this time of crisis.

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