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Are you mixing more than tea in the tea room?

Right now when everyone is craving connection and social interaction, the tea room can be the place where Covid-spreads. If you have workers in the workplace, make sure they aren’t mixing more than tea in the tea room. Make sure your workplace is covid-secure. 

Data showed there were more than 500 outbreaks, or suspected outbreaks, in offices in the second half of 2020 - more than in supermarkets, construction sites, warehouses, restaurants and cafes combined. More than 60 suspected Covid outbreaks in offices were recorded in the first two weeks of the current lockdown in England, a BBC investigation has found.

Common areas have always been highlighted as higher risk areas for Covid-19 transmission, if control measures have not been put in place. We always knew this. After months of living with this virus, it’s easier to see how difficult it can be to not only put control measures in place, but to make sure that your employees follow them. 

There’s something about being able to be in the same room as others, especially if they are co-workers that you see on a regular basis. Somehow that can make us feel safe, and we let our guards down.  For a moment, work feels “normal” in the sanctuary of the tea room. And it only takes a moment, a tea break, to stand too close, to make tea for others and pass mugs around, or to put your hands on a surface where someone from another bubble was. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you aren’t mixing more than tea in the tea room and other common areas in your workplace. 

Common Areas 

Common areas are used by many people. The potential for spread of coronavirus is considered to be higher in these areas if proper controls are not in place. Identify and review the common areas within your workplace which includes your staff rooms, kitchens and restrooms. 

Also consider pinch points in your premises such as narrow corridors, staircases, doorways and storage areas. You may need to put in place a combination of control measures to keep people safe.

General control measures

Consider putting the following control measures in place for common areas:

  • Limit the number of people at any one time using any areas that may become congested.
  • Use floor markings to maintain social distancing.
  • Keep surfaces clear so that cleaning can be carried out more effectively.
  • Identify objects that may be touched more frequently, such as kettles, cooking equipment, phones, computers or tables and make sure that they are frequently cleaned.
  • Try to maximise ventilation.
  • Make sure that your workforce is clear on the rules when using common areas.
  • The areas should be regularly cleaned in line with your cleaning plan.
  • Minimise contact between people, using barriers or screens.
  • Provide hand-washing facilities or hand sanitiser near to frequently used areas.
  • Display signs reminding people to socially distance, wash hands and not touch their faces.
  • Work with landlords and other tenants in multi-tenant sites or buildings to ensure consistency across areas such as receptions and staircases.

Download our Guide to Creating a Covid-Secure Workplace for further guidance on how to put control measures in place in your tea room, as well as other common areas in your workplace. 

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