With news that businesses can re-open if they can follow government advice, many business owners and employers are working out how they can best balance health and safety with the operation of their business. This will be different for each company and industry, but one thing that seems clear is that to stick with the social distancing rules employees will have to stagger their start and end times.
Access control systems make this possible by providing every staff member with the access requirements they need for their role. With an RFID fob system the access rights can be changed centrally, and fobs de-activated if they’re lost or stolen which is very important for security. This no contact style of access also removes the infection control issues around people using the same keypads to gain entry.
Staff can be given the rights to disarm and set the alarm and access the parts of the premises they need to, whilst being restricted from areas they don’t need that access and sensitive areas. This is important if you have to take on new temporary staff to cover the workload of those who may be self-isolating or shielding.
The records that an access control system generates can provide good data that evidences how you’re complying with the requirements and shows how this is impacting your business. It’s also great for managing timesheets and payroll, when people aren’t working their normal hours. On a site with multiple areas, this data can also help with tracking and tracing any confirmed cases of Covid-19, by generating a list of all the people who have accessed the same area.
At the time of writing we are still waiting for clear guidance for businesses, and we expect that this will change as the recommendations are put into place and evaluated for efficiency and feasibility. Your access control system, alongside CCTV footage will be a valuable asset in determining how well you can stick to the guidelines, and whether you can make the workplace more secure by restricting access to areas that are not used much, or by opening these areas up as workstations to help with social distancing measures.
It is likely that PPE will be recommended for staff working where social distancing is not feasible, but with PPE hard to procure and in high demand in the NHS, employers may find it impossible to provide this for their staff. Homemade masks may help to some extent, but this won’t be suitable for all businesses. If your staff travel in on public transport they may be required to wear a mask, and it’s unclear who is expected to provide these – not all homemade masks will be up to the same standard and this begs the question – should we be relying on homemade PPE to provide adequate protection for staff and customers? If you are providing PPE for staff then it’s important to control access to these stocks, to ensure they’re being used properly and that the stock will distributed evenly.
There may be lessons to learn from other countries that have begun to ease their lockdown restrictions as we see how the virus spreads under more relaxed rules, but it’s important for business owners to keep abreast of these developments and to put in place measures that they think will benefit their staff and keep their business going. Getting an access control system installed will help kick start your planning and will give you a degree of flexibility over how you apply other measures advised by the government or requested by your staff.