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Planning for a return to work

Around the nation, businesses are eager to return to the workplace. For those intending to send employees back to commercial buildings, the challenges are numerous. Adjustments to long-held procedures and protocols are needed to ensure the health of the building, and those who work within it.

Returning to the ‘business as usual’ of the past may not be possible for some time, as restrictions to capacity, proximity and access are at an all-time high. But organisations of all types and sizes will still need a plan to ensure pandemic safe measures are implemented and maintained, if they are to return to the workplace successfully.

Assess the risks   

The swift nature of the Coronavirus impact has meant that businesses have had to abruptly cease or change their trading model. The building that businesses will return to will be a very different one to the one they left at the start of the pandemic.

The differences will need to be accounted for in a risk assessment for any businesses returning to a commercial site. Businesses will need to take a few steps to properly assess the risks moving forward.

Review existing operations  

Existing safety procedures need to be changed to meet the challenges of COVID-19. Before any new plans are put in place on-site, a review of the existing risks and safety measures are needed.

During this review process, businesses need to:

  • Understand potential risks to the building and those within it
  • Assess the current security measures in place to protect physical assets and building personnel
  • Assess the changes in security practices and procedures
  • Determine any new risk treatments or gaps that may exist and need to be accounted for in a new plan.

Recommend changes to operations   

Most existing security operations will need to include new measures to properly contend with the threats presented by the pandemic. New plans need to take into account COVID-19 risks including:

  • How to identify risks that may have shifted in light of the pandemic
  • Control measures, checkpoints and protections that need to be updated or added
  • Organise testing and review processes to ensure the plan remains relevant and agile.

Once a risk assessment is complete, the next step is to minimise the risks of COVID-19 in the commercial space.

Instigate a clear return to work plan

According to the national principles agreed by Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, businesses and employees must work together to actively control against the spread of COVID-19 while at work. To help fulfil this directive, security will need to work closely with businesses and landlords to manage numerous return to work factors.

A scaled return to the workplace

The more people in a space, the higher the risk of infection and spread. To help contend with this risk, many businesses are opting for a scaled or reduced return to the workplace.

Managing the number of employees and visitors on-site is a logistical task that needs expert input. Security managers will play a key role in a scaled return to the workplace, chiefly by ensuring staff and visitors don’t exceed the maximum allowable numbers.

After all, managing the security risks associated with COVID-19 will be critical to protecting workplace health. 

Management of building access

Even with a scaled approach, there’s still a risk posed by many people entering and exiting a building. Plans need to be considered for:

  • The most suitable entry and exist points to maintain physical distancing rules
  • Ingress options that involve the least amount of physical handling
  • Monitoring common congregation points such as lifts and stairwells
  • Staggered start and end times to reduce bottlenecks and threats from community transmission.

Managing incidents and emergencies

While the workplace has changed and the way that we operate in the workplace will continue to change, incidents and emergencies will unfortunately continue to occur in the workplace.  How we have responded to incidents and emergencies in the past will need to be reviewed. Ensuring that our reporting, response and recovery arrangements are viable, capable of being implemented and protect staff and visitors from further risk is critical.

Rethink physical spaces

More often than not, pre-virus workplaces will be unsuited to the new physical distancing restrictions. Businesses will need to take steps to reconfigure physical spaces to ensure:

  • Workplace risks are identified assessed and understood
  • Treatment plans are put in place to address these risks
  • Clear responsibility and accountability measures are put in place to ensure that plans are enacted

Your vigilant return to work partners

Returning to work won’t be easy for many businesses, especially with tougher physical distancing guidelines. But with tight transition and contingency plans in place, Australian businesses can feel more certain that a return to work is the right decision.

As one of the nation’s leading security providers, Wilson Security is here to support your business to get back to work safely. Contact Wilson Security to discuss your commercial property’s return to work plan.

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