The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has consolidated its COVID-19 guidance through the issue of their new COVID-19 Workplace Protection and Improvement Guide. This provides guidance for businesses and employers on how to improve their ability to protect against, respond to, and recover from COVID-19 related disruptions in the workplace. While much of the guidance is available elsewhere, the format used by the NSAI is particularly practical, and written in ‘plain English’ with helpful infographics and tables. Outlined below are some of the top tips for employers and key takeaways highlighted by the NSAI.
1. Defence – How to identify and mitigate the risks to business continuity caused by COVID-19
To defend against the risks caused by the current pandemic, businesses should implement and maintain the following measures:
- Stay Informed
Regularly refer to the latest public health advisories as the situation evolves, by checking the HSE, the Department of Health and the WHO’s website for the most up to date information and advice.
- Provide training to employees
Identify and provide the necessary training to ensure that employees have the competence to implement and maintain the measures needed to prepare for and protect against COVID-19 related disruptions. Employees should be provided with information and training on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, how the virus is spread, hygiene measures, physical distancing, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical equipment (e.g. thermometers, disposable gloves, masks, and disinfectants) as relevant.
- Working from Home
Implement a Work from Home policy and put in place ICT infrastructure to support working from home where practicable.
Ensure that a robust communication strategy is in place to provide up-to-date information to employees, suppliers and customers. Essential suppliers and customers should be identified, and continuity issues discussed. A plan on how and when to activate alternative suppliers and/or alternative delivery means to customers should also be put in place if necessary.
2. Exposure – Management and Reduction of Detected Cases
Where a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified in a business, the following measures should be put in place:
Implement a COVID-19 business continuity plan to minimise disruption to operations and ensure that the business remains viable during the virus outbreak. The plan should specify the immediate steps to be taken during a disruption and be flexible to respond to the changing internal and external conditions of a disruption.
- Business Impact Analysis and Risk Assessment
Assess the impact that a further disruption of activities would have on the business and identify which areas of activity should be prioritised when taking steps towards resuming activities.
3. Recovery – Recovery of Processes and Business Functions
To re-establish business activities and to support a return to normal working following COVID-19 related disruptions, businesses should plan for the eventual return through a business recovery policy and ensure that employees and suppliers are aware of the policy and its objectives.
An analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the business will enable it to set a timeline for resuming activities that have been disrupted. The business should identify in advance and classify as “priorities” any activities where failure to resume them quickly could result in an adverse impact on the business and its quick recovery.
The time frame for resuming a business activity should take into account any dependence on related activities and the complexity of the recovery process.
4. Useful Links and Other Resources
Useful links to websites are also included in the NSAI COVID-19 Workplace Protection and Improvement Guide as well as information about training and consultancy support offered by the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and others. Access the Guide here.
We will continue to keep you up to date on developments through our dedicated COVID-19 Hub.
If you have any specific queries in relation to COVID-19, please get in touch with your regular William Fry contact.
Contributed by Órlaith Ní Mhadagáin