How to work safely in your sheds during the pandemic

12 January 2021 COVID-19
Belvoir Park's maintenance facility. Image taken pre-COVID.

 

For greenkeepers during most of the year, day-to-day duties require you to be outdoors, which greatly reduces the risk of virus transmission. However, there are certain instances when you will be required to work indoors. This may be due to poor weather, team meetings, training, taking breaks or any number of other situations. 

There are things that can be put into place to ensure you and your team remain safe and the information below is taken from the UK Government’s official guidance relating to working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19). Personal responsibility is incredibly important at this time so if you feel uncomfortable in your working environment at any team, speak to your line manager. If that isn’t possible, BIGGA’s regional team is on hand to offer support and assistance.

Do you need to wear a face mask?

Face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, a number of which are detailed below. These other measures are the best ways of managing risk in the workplace, so do not rely on a face mask to protect you if no other measures are in place.

Face masks are not mandatory in the workplace, but people are encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings possible and wash your hands before putting them on and before and after taking them off. 

Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. This means telling workers:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and before and after removing it
  • When wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
  • Change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
  • Continue to wash your hands regularly
  • Change and wash your face covering daily
  • If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If not, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste
  • Practice social distancing wherever possible

Moving around maintenance facilities and storage sheds

  • Reduce movement by discouraging non-essential trips within buildings and sites. Some areas may need to be restricted and telephones or other electronic devices should be used to communicate, with cleaning taking place between use.
  • Reduce job rotation and equipment rotation, for example, by assigning single tasks to staff members for the day.
  • Implement one-way systems where possible on walkways around the workplace
  • Use signage such as ground markings to help people comply with social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not possible)
  • Reduce occupancy of vehicles used for onsite travel
  • Separate sites into working zones to keep different groups of workers physically separated as much as practical
  • Plan site access and ‘area of safety’ points to enable social distancing
  • Reduce the number of people in attendance at site inductions and hold them outdoors where possible
  • Manage use of high traffic areas to maintain social distancing

Workplaces and workstations

Workstations should be assigned to one member of the team as much as possible. If they need to be shared, they should be shared by the smallest number of people possible. If it is not possible to ensure workstations comply with social distancing guidelines, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate. If so, take all mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission.

  • Review layouts and processes that allow staff to work further apart from each other
  • Avoid people working face-to-face. Instead, work side-by-side or back-to-back.
  • Use screens to create a physical barrier between people
  • Use a consistent buddy system if workers have to be in close proximity.

Meetings

  • Use remote working tools to avoid in-person meetings
  • Only absolutely necessary participants should physically attend meetings and should maintain social distancing guidelines
  • Avoid sharing pens, documents and other objects
  • Provide hand sanitiser in meeting rooms
  • Hold meetings outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms whenever possible
  • Use floor signage to help people maintain social distancing

Common areas

  • Stagger break times to reduce pressure on the staff break rooms or places to eat and ensure social distancing is maintained in break rooms
  • Use safe outdoor areas for breaks
  • Create additional space by using other parts of the working area or building that have been freed up by remote working
  • Provide packaged meals or similar to avoid fully opening staff canteens
  • Reconfigure seating and tables to optimise spacing and reduce face-to-face interactions
  • Encourage workers to remain on-site during working hours
  • Consider use of social distance markers for other common areas such as toilets, showers, lockers and changing rooms

Accidents, security and other incidents

In an emergency, people do not have to comply with social distancing guidelines if it would be unsafe. People involved should pay particular attention to sanitation measures immediately afterwards, including washing hands.

  • Review your incident and emergency procedures to ensure they reflect social distancing principles as far as possible
  • Consider the security implications of any changes you intend to make in response to COVID-19 as any revisions may present new or altered security risks
  • Follow government guidance on managing security risks

Keeping your workplace clean

  • Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products
  • Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, such as equipment and control panels, and make sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products
  • Clear workspaces and remove waste and belongings from the work area at the end of shift
  • Sanitise all hand tools, controls, machinery and equipment after use
  • If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then you should refer to the specific guidance.
  • Provide extra non-recycling bins for workers and visitors to dispose of single use face coverings and PPE.

Hygiene: handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets

  • Provide additional handwashing facilities
  • Use signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available
  • Provide regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards
  • Provide hand sanitisers in multiple locations in addition to washrooms
  • Set clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets
  • Enhance cleaning for busy areas
  • Special care should be taken for cleaning of portable toilets
  • Provide more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection
  • Provide hand drying facilities
  • Keep facilities well-ventilated, for example by fixing doors open where appropriate

Changing rooms and showers

  • Set clear use and cleaning guidance for showers, lockers and changing rooms to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and that social distancing is achieved as much as possible
  • Introduce enhanced cleaning of all facilities regularly during the day and at the end of the day

Head to the UK Government’s Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) information page for more.

Author

Karl Hansell
BIGGA | Communications Executive

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