COVID-19 Re-opening for business

During this lockdown many companies have had to think about ensuring their staff work from home in the first instance when planning to continue work safely.

Then there are long term plans…

COVID-19 Re-opening for business

Opening closed buildings backup for use:

In April I wrote an article sharing tips on the maintenance of work equipment and the expectation of the HSE during these restricted times.  I decided to add a bit more to this because there may be businesses that have closed their buildings entirely for many weeks and are wanting to put in place a COVID-19 Re-opening Plan ahead of restarting their business. 

As part of the re-opening plan implementing physical / social distancing measures along with additional sanitisation will need to be thought through, I discussed this within my previous article about risk assessment and control measures:  

However physical checks on both the building/premises and the management systems should be implemented before (or as part of) startup that are non-COVID related aspects, but are vital in ensuring the health and safety of employees and those you have responsibility for.  These might include:


Firstly, you might want to start with having a thorough walk around the outside of the premises identifying potential hazards such as your security equipment integrity or any breaches to fencing, is there any overgrown vegetation near fire exit routes or vegetation build up that might be causing a fire risk?  

Check any externally stored work equipment such as ramps, gas storage cages or waste containers are they still in good condition and secured? 

Do you need to contact your pest control company to do an extra check before start up to control the risk of any biological hazard to workers? 

What about your draining system?  Does this need checking depending on your business type?

Then inside:

You should consider your water systems – is your legionella risk assessment and in-house checking system up to date and logged including both the drinking water system and/or any cooling towers or work equipment?  

– If you don’t have this make sure all water outlets (taps, toilets, showers) are flushed through for about 10 minutes to change the water and reduce risk to workers health. 

Have your air conditioning or mechanical ventilation systems been adequately maintained to ensure they don’t introduce any health risks into the workplace? 

Electrical portable appliance testing may have fallen out of date, especially for those items taken out on site that are construction related. 

Make sure that your Fire Safety equipment such as fire alarms and emergency lighting are in date for their servicing agreements, then follow up with in-house testing (don’t forget to log them!) and plan a fire evacuation practice covering any newly revised staffing arrangements or shifts to make sure everyone has been considered.  (If you need any help updating your Fire Risk Assessment or emergency evacuation plans, just let me know).

General management aspects:

Other aspects that came to mind were: 

  • Checking fire doors open easily and seal closed and that extinguishers are present and in good order?
  • First Aid kit expiry dates – are all items present and still in date?
  • Spill kit contents, are they still in good order and all items present (especially ones stored outside).
  • Don’t forget to check fridges or freezers for temperatures, cleanliness and old food content. – I don’t want to think too much about this…


Work equipment and statutory testing.

Make a list of any work equipment you have that falls into this category and work through the list to make sure you are ahead of the game.  Include things such as: Lifting Equipment; Pressure Systems; Local Exhaust Ventilation equipment (extraction); Vehicle maintenance/MOT; Gas appliances; Fixed mains electrical testing. 

If you need any help with this, I am happy to help!