Where should you place sanitisers in the workplace to keep your staff safe? What are you obliged to provide for staff returning to work to ensure staff safety?
What employers are legally and ethically obliged to do to keep workplaces safe is unclear, so we've put together a handy guide to help you understand where sanitisers should be placed within your building.
What are employers' obligations in respect of COVID-19?
Employers health and safety obligations relevant to COVID-19 include those under the following legislation:
Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974;
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999; • The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992;
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992; and • The Control of Substance Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
Employers have health & safety obligations to best ensure they can keep staff safe in the workplace. Current Health & Safety Legislation requires employers to take as much care for employees and others affected by the business as is reasonably practicable, and this extends to the use of handwashing and hand sanitisation in the workplace.
The legislation additionally requires employers to undertake risk assessments as to the necessary measures that they need to adopt with Covid-19 to ensure that they can keep their staff safe in the workplace. The UK Government notes that failure to complete a risk assessment that takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of health and safety law.
Getting the risk assessment right as to where sanitisers should be placed is of critical importance, and CIPD, the professional association for human resource management professionals, similarly advises that employers have a
fundamental duty of care for their employees’ physical and mental health and wellbeing.
If employees’ health and wellbeing is supported, they are likely to be more engaged, motivated and effective at work.
What if a company fails to meet obligations?
If an employer fails to take reasonable care to keep its staff safe, an employee may be able to make a number of claims against the organisation, including resigning and claiming constructive unfair dismissal, and personal injury, if they catch Covid 19 in the workplace, or are at risk of catching Covid-19. For this reason, it is important for organisations to demonstrate that they are adopting all reasonable measures to best ensure that they keep their staff safe.
Employees also have a duty of care in the workplace
Employees themselves have a duty under health and safety law to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work.
These requirements summarise why it is extremely beneficial for the employer not only to undertake proper risk assessments as to where sanitisers are placed in the workplace to enable high-level hand hygiene protocols to be adopted, but also, alongside their employees, make every reasonable effort to ensure that each employee, contractor, and visitor to any premises uses the hand sanitisers to reduce the risk of Covid-19 being spread by transmission from hands to communally touched surfaces.
The SAVORTEX® Smart Sanitiser Solution
SAVORTEX® created its smart sanitiser products to enable organisations to not only adopt the highest protocol levels of hand hygiene in the workplace but additionally to remotely monitor compliance to ensure that measures not only have been implemented but they are being followed by all staff and visitors into a building.
SAVORTEX®'s smart sanitiser can also message staff in real-time if they walk past key sanitiser areas without sanitising as to the importance of doing so and reminding them to go back and sanitise their hands.
This is the best way to keep staff as safe as possible and be able to ensure that everyone in a building is undertaking the measures that the risk assessment sets out as being required for an optimum hand hygiene regime on an ongoing basis. This will enhance wellbeing and additionally result in the organisation being less vulnerable to claims being brought for failure to adopt appropriate hand hygiene measures.
Where sanitisers should be located
CIPD states that each organisation must ensure that its hand hygiene measures are customised for their own operations as no two businesses operate in the same way. In undertaking risk assessments, CIPD notes that the UK government has produced guidance, which is a good starting point to help organisations create a safer, healthier workplace, but no two organisations have the same occupational safety and health culture or management systems. The core framework and intent is common to most, but details need to be customised for each organisation, for individual sites and possibly for individual teams.
There are locations in any building that present a heightened risk of contact, infection, and cross-contamination. They vary according to the type of building, the size of the workforce and the kinds of work that are being performed. Consequently, employers should ideally undertake a thorough survey of their premises and identify any heavily trafficked contact points that would benefit from having a hand sanitiser dispenser set close by. There is no substitute for applying careful thought on-site. However, as a rule of thumb, there tend to be certain locations that commonly present a higher risk.
With proper assessment of the workplace, and staff movements within it, organisations will be best placed to undertake an appropriate risk assessment of where sanitisers should be placed!
Corridors and communal spaces
Popular, well-used areas such as reception areas, corridors and other communal spaces are logically one of the most high-risk zones, simply because more people increases the potential for cross-contamination. Providing clearly visible dispensers in these areas not only enables effective hygiene, it also acts as a constant reminder of company policy and individual obligations. For this reason, it is especially important to situate hand sanitisers in reception areas. Doing so encourages good hand hygiene immediately, before any distractions take hold, so it acts as an effective ‘safety induction’ to the premises. Here, as with all the following locations, it is important that any dispensers are clearly visible, supported by signage where feasible, and that they are accessible without obstruction. Using hand sanitisers should be made as easy and convenient as possible.
Stairwells and lift areas
It’s natural that when someone uses the stairs, he or she will use the handrail. From a general safety perspective, it’s important that they do, but the presence of such a commonly touched surface does inevitably increase the risk of infection. Consequently, it is good practice to situate hand sanitiser dispensers at the top and bottom of every stairwell, and on any landings in between.
Much the same is true of lifts, stairlifts and escalators. Lifts require the user to touch a number of buttons, escalators have handrails, and stairlifts may have safety bars or belts as well as the controls themselves. In all cases, a hand sanitiser dispenser should be provided on every floor so that regardless of the journey, users can always keep themselves protected.
Shower, changing and locker areas
In premises that feature changing areas or shower facilities, employees will typically be touching doors, lockers, basins and shower controls, together with other surfaces. At a minimum, hand sanitiser should be made available immediately outside any entrances and exits, and by doors to any partitioned areas.
Production and manufacturing areas
Businesses with on-site plant and machinery should take particular care to understand how these items are used and where any contamination risks can arise. Where there are simple, short rows of workbenches (or similar), it may be sufficient to place dispensers at the end of each row.
However, manufacturing areas vary considerably in design and usage, so any decision on the placement of dispensers needs to be the result of careful scrutiny. That said, entrances and exits are obvious hot spots, as are any handrails, gantries, machine consoles or other controls that may be touched by multiple employees. Consider how operatives act and move through these areas, and where dispensers may be safely situated – taking into account visibility, convenience and avoidable risks such as trip hazards.
Washrooms present similar challenges to shower rooms and changing rooms. Again, as a minimum, dispensers should be placed outside the washroom doors so that they can be used before and after visiting the room and coming into contact with door handles. Washrooms will already have basins, dispensers and hand drying facilities inside so no duplication of washroom equipment is likely to be necessary; only sensible monitoring to ensure that supplies of soap and any paper towels are reliably maintained.
Kitchen and canteen areas
Key contact areas in kitchens and canteens include worktops, serving counters, trays, tables, chairs and doors. Kitchen staff should be equipped with their own supply of hand sanitiser and a separate dispenser is useful on any serving counter, where trays and other items may be passed from hand to hand. It may be impractical to install dispensers at or by every table but, as a minimum precaution, they should be installed in visible, easily accessible parts of the room such as against empty walls and by entrances.
In smaller meeting rooms, a single dispenser just inside the entrance door(s) may be adequate. In larger rooms such as those used for seminars and larger presentations, dispensers should be installed by all doors and, if necessary, at the ends of any aisles between seating. This also assumes that other safety measures, such as proper distancing, are also being observed.
Office layouts vary. For rooms with individual cubicles, dispensers should be placed at regular intervals in any through ways and they should be made accessible to passing colleagues without creating a risk of infringing safe distances between staff. For more open plan environments, dispensers should be placed at the end of each row of workstations, presuming of course that the office design also allows for safe distancing. As with other commonly used areas, dispensers should also be situated by any exits.
Getting in Touch
SAVORTEX® would be happy to discuss your specific requirements in more detail and we are available to assist you to keep your premises as safe as possible.