Freedom Day’: What is a Facilities Manager’s Responsibility?
Since 19th July, otherwise known as ‘freedom day’ in the UK, businesses have had to carefully consider how stage four of the government roadmap will affect their ways of working. With many people returning to the office post-lockdown, facilities managers have a considerable part to play in ensuring that employees are kept safe in the workplace.
But, despite the lockdown ending, COVID remains widespread across the country and will need to be carefully managed for some time. So, what is the role of a facilities manager during this transitional period, and how can they ensure worker safety maintains a priority?
In this article, we explain why facilities management is so important and share the role of a facilities manager in a post-lockdown workplace.
Why is Facilities Management so Important?
Facilities Managers play an essential role in any workplace because they manage the day-to-day organisation and delivery of services on behalf of your business. They aim to reduce running costs and enable your company to meet all its objectives.
The role of a facilities manager may include the following:
- Staff safety
- Ensuring that all facilities comply with UK legislation and guidance
- Ordering stock
During COVID, facilities management has become more vital than ever before. Since March 2020, workplace health and safety practices have been under a magnifying glass, putting pressure on facilities managers to adhere to the latest government guidelines.
However, measures designed to protect against the spread of COVID, such as social distancing and work from home restrictions, have come to an end. Therefore, facilities managers have to deal with a new set of challenges. Now, they must consider ways to keep everyone safe on-site during a pandemic when there are no official guidelines in place.
Post-Lockdown: What is a Facilities Manager’s Responsibility?
Employers have a legal duty to manage risks associated with their workplace, including any COVID-related threats to worker health. Subsequently, you must take appropriate steps to mitigate any issues before they arise.
That’s where facilities management comes in. Here are some measures facilities managers should take to ensure the workplace remains a safe environment for staff:
Carry Out a Risk Assessment
The first stage of protecting everyone in your building is to carry out a workplace risk assessment, which highlights potential hazards to health and safety. Once you’ve completed the evaluation, you can decide whether you have taken enough precautions to prevent harm.
All measures must comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and associated regulations. But, during the pandemic, you may need to consider some additional risks. For example:
- Is the building well ventilated?
- Is there enough room to maintain distance between workers?
- Do you have adequate hand sanitising facilities?
You will also need to consider those at higher risk of infection, such as the clinically vulnerable or people who haven’t yet received both doses of the vaccination. Facilities managers will need to make reasonable adjustments for anyone who could be adversely affected by the virus.
Remember, if you employ over five people, you must document your findings. With a 5-in-1 workforce management system like BigChange, you can easily keep an electronic record of all your risk assessments for future reference, saving you from having to file and store your findings manually.
Communicate Health and Safety Measures to Staff
Following a risk assessment, the role of a facilities manager is to communicate their findings — along with any preventative measures they’ve put in place — with employees. Strong communication will ensure that everyone is aware of their role in maintaining health and safety in the workplace.
Some steps facilities managers may wish to take to prevent the spread of COVID could include:
1. Planning a Gradual Return to the Office
Although mandated working from home restrictions have ended, the government still recommends a gradual return to the workplace over the summer. Therefore, you should consider scheduling return dates for your staff and communicating them clearly with each individual.
2. Encouraging a Respectful Environment
It’s worth communicating to employees that ‘freedom day’ doesn’t have the same meaning for everyone, and some people still may not be comfortable with contact. Encourage staff to be respectful of other people’s wishes and to maintain distance to prevent the spread of COVID where possible.
3. Maintaining Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
It’s no longer mandatory to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces. However, COVID still poses a threat to public health, so the government advises people to use ‘personal risk-based judgements’. As such, they suggest that everyone continues to wear a mask in crowded and enclosed spaces.
Workplaces will need to ensure that they’ve taken all reasonable steps to minimise health and safety risks, so facilities managers may want to encourage all non-exempt employees to wear a mask when they’re not sitting at their desks.
Make the Role of a Facilities Manager Simpler with BigChange
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BigChange gives you the power to keep your employees working safely and ensure their personal information is secure and up-to-date.
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