Covid-19 related guidelines for offices published

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister recently published guidelines for the workplace in order to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 once workers start returning to their place of work.

Measures indicated in the guidelines include:

Social distancing

  • The need for office workers to have at least four square metres of space each and keep a distance of at least two metres from colleagues
  • When this is not possible, acrylic or tempered glass screens are to be used, and masks or visors must be worn at all times
  • All staff members must have a personal working space
  • In open-plan environments, employers should be considering installing one-way systems in walkways, to create better physical circulation within the workspace
  • Employers should also consider shift patterns or part-remote working to reduce the overall number of staff in the office at any one time. In general, remote working should continue to be encouraged where possible to reduce face to face contact
  • Different teams or groups should keep contact between them, both at and away from the office, including breaks, to an absolute minimum
  • Shared spaces, such as kitchens and meeting rooms, should be redesigned to allow for appropriate distancing measures to be carried out, including floor markers and signage to help guide staff to maintain social distance
  • Computers and work equipment should be individually assigned
  • Non-essential visits to the office should not be allowed
  • Use, and ask clients and contractors to use, electronic paperwork where possible

Sanitisation and hand hygiene should be a priority

  • Workers should wash their hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or with a 70% alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • The workplace, particularly common surfaces such as handles, desks, and chairs, lift buttons, shared printers, and copiers, will need frequent cleaning and disinfection throughout the day
  • Restrooms must be sanitised frequently

COVID-19 best practices

  • All employees should be aware of COVID-19 symptoms, and employers should make sure workers do not come to work if they are unwell
  • Each morning, all staff members must have their body temperatures checked before entering the workplace. Individuals displaying fever (37.2 degrees or more) shall not be allowed to enter
  • If individuals begin to show symptoms in the workplace, they must return home alone and remain there
  • Persons suffering from COVID-19 infections, or their contacts, must be cleared by the public health authorities
  • Signs and posters should be visible at the workplace to remind workers and others of the risks of COVID-19. Employers are also responsible for communicating all measures
  • Businesses shall designate someone responsible for safety at work, whom the staff may contact
  • Businesses should have contingency and continuity plans in place, to ensure that the offices are kept running in case of an outbreak. These plans should also consider the mental health and social consequences of contracting COVID-19

Publication date: 02 June 2020