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The route back to work is different for everyone. As a result, reopening can present hazards which if not properly managed, can result in damage, injury and legal action causing further disruption to your business.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the steps to reopen business premises safely.


Where do you draw the evidence to determine whether your area is high or low risk?

The best way to determine is to visit the Scottish Government website. The whole of Scotland is broken into national health service regions and each region reports on the live cases at any one time. Depending on the volume of cases - an area is determined as high or low risk.


Will airborne transmission spread more in an office or workplace?

Most infections are spread through close contact yet respiratory infections can be transmitted through droplets of different sizes. In any working environment, it is important to have as many doors and windows open as much as possible to create a change of air.
Keep a free flow of air going through the premises as this is a very critical mitigation method. However, in the winter months, this will obviously have its challenges.


In the 3rd sector, we are not just bound by HSE and Scottish Government guidance but also Care Commission requirements. How do we ensure that we are doing the right thing to meet all requirements?

HSE, Scottish Government and Care Commission guidance is not contradictory, and it is there to protect providing support and those receiving it. What is required is a review of the facilities and then put in some guidance that will help everyone. If we can reduce the number of people that need to come into an office, by using technology, whilst that won't work for everyone, there is a methodology to continue the support.


Should we be using the air conditioning on the premises?

No. Please do not use air conditioning. As above, have as many windows and doors open as much as possible to keep a free flow of air.


Can we look at wedging open fire doors to keep airflow if the air conditioning is off?

Yes, if there are people present, that is acceptable. However, somebody needs to be accountable for closing them in the event the fire alarm goes off, and at the end of the day before closing.


What information should I be asking for from our property factor/landlord for the common areas in a building i.e. toilets, shower, stairs, and lifts?

Asking for the sight of their COVID-19 risk assessment and their most recent fire risk assessment.


How often do business premises/voluntary organisations legally have to be cleaned?

There is no current legislation, so the cleaning must occur as often as is required for the activity on the premises. The function of the organisation will dictate what amount of cleaning needs to be carried out. Hot desking, as a practice, should not be used in any shape or form as it increases the level of risk and the need for deeper cleaning.


Do I just need a risk assessment for COVID-19 to re-open?

Yes, to re-open, but the legislation states you need all the other risk assessments in place and up to date. The risk assessments are now required to be reassessed to include COVID-19 and the appropriate control measures.


How many steps are in a risk assessment?

This is entirely dependent on the nature of the organisation. A risk assessment and health and safety documentation measures need to be appropriate for the business. If you have a simple business, i.e. people sat at desks, the requirement for safe systems at work and documentation is less than if you’re running premises manufacturing something using tools, equipment, machinery.


Can you show me an example of risk assessment to give me an idea of what I need to do before I re-open?

Looking at examples of other assessments will give you a rough idea as a similar business will have similar issues. Although you must ensure you follow guidance from an assessment specific to your organisation.


When should you perform a risk assessment?

As a rule of thumb, it should be reviewed as a minimum once a year and whenever there are any changes to the business processes. It is best practice to hold an annual review of all your HSE arrangement and review the documentation. This ongoing review should be discussed at the board level every quarter.

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