We are literally just 2 days away from wearing face coverings in all shops and indoor public spaces. It’s not been a popular change in Government policy, but with the pandemic continuing to spread and coming ever closer to tipping over the R, it poses the question, should masks also be made mandatory in the workplace?
As our understanding and knowledge develops many remain unsure exactly how effective and relevant guidelines are, and whether they really can help to protect us during these unprecedented times.
There are reports that claim it’s pointless to begin wearing masks at this late stage and that we should have been wearing them way back in March when the pandemic was declared. The government stance has always been that they ‘follow the science’, which is now supporting the use of face coverings in enclosed public spaces.
So as of the 24th of July, we will all be required to wear a face covering whilst in shops in
England; these rules are already in place in Scotland. Deemed pointless by many; the fact that the potential fine of £100 for not wearing a mask will no doubt persuade people to comply its seen as a useless exercise.
Although currently not within the new guidelines; offices and places of work are still required to carry out risk assessments and adapt work spaces in accordance with COVID-19 secure advice. Desks and workstations have to be sited at least 1m plus apart with the use of communal spaces, kitchens etc having to be re-thought to enable social distancing, adherence to strict rota’s and very detailed organisation for larger office numbers. Without these precautions though, it will be all too easy to ‘bump into’ colleagues without even meaning to which is a risk not just to the office workers but also their families and the wider public.
It is claimed that face coverings can prevent the spread of coronavirus by stopping contaminated droplets from breathing and talking, and being picked up by those around you by up to 65%. If so; surely it is fair and reasonable to ask employees to wear a face covering whilst in the office?
And the wearing of masks doesn’t have to be boring! There are many types of different face coverings available from disposable single use masks to reusable and washable coverings that include removable and disposable filters so you can certainly get creative!. (Add links to government guidance including how to do your own here)
For inventory clerks working alone, this is less of an issue as most are home based as their main ‘place of work’ is within empty properties and rarely work alongside one another. However, it is still important to wear the correct PPE to protect themselves from potentially contaminated surfaces in the property and also whilst interacting with agents, landlords and tenants.
Larger suppliers or property management services may require employees to be situated within the office environment and whilst (for some) face masks are uncomfortable, they remain necessary whilst out in public areas and shops.
Our advice would be that both office staff and those out in the field should always have access to adequate PPE. Not only for their safety, to prevent the spread of the virus, but also to ensure that staff feel safe and confident in going back to work
As yet; there are no plans to enforce coverings within the workplace but it makes sense to give all staff and contractors that option to help them feel safe and secure in this post COVID world.
As we continue to battle through these challenging times, it’s important for us all to do what we can when we can to safeguard each other.
If you need help or advice there are a number of support documents and guidance within our Covid-19 hub specifically targeted at property professionals, inventory clerks and letting agents. For more information visit