Since the BRC released its guidelines for non-essential retailers earlier this month, jewellery retailers have been busy preparing for the moment they can reopen their store doors.
Now the government has also released a guidance on how business can work safely in the UK.
In a document for ‘shops and branches’, the category jewellery retailers fall into, the government provides practical considerations, but advices each company will need to translate the suggestions into specific actions which relate to the nature of their individual business.
“This document is to help employers, employees and the selfemployed in the UK understand how to work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping as many people as possible 2 metres apart from those they do not live with. We hope it gives you freedom within a practical framework to think about what you need to do to continue, or restart, operations during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the document cites in the intro.
While a lot of the content is similar to that outlined by the BRC, here’s a break-down of measures the government advices jewellers take this month in preparation for potentially reopening in June.
Think about risk – all employers must carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
Ahead of reopening, all jewellers need to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19 in their place of work.
As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety.
This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.
You must make sure, however, that the risk assessment for your business addresses the risks of COVID-19, using the government guidance to inform your decisions and control measures.
A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace.
If you have fewer than five workers, or are self-employed, you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment.
All employers, however, do have a duty to consult their workforce on health and safety. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work and how you will manage risks from COVID-19.
The government notes: “The people who do the work are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace and will have a view on how to work safely. Involving them in making decisions shows that you take their health and safety seriously.”
Here jewellers can find interactive tools to support their risk assessment: https://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/assessment.htm.
Jewellers must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers. As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be.
Jewellers should consider publishing the results of their results on their website – with jewellery retailers with employees of 50+ been expected to do so.
Jewellers should also displace a notice in their window to show they have followed government guidance.
Who should work? Employers must protect their team
The government still advices that everyone should work from home, unless they cannot work from home. For jewellers – this means considering if any team members (perhaps those working on the digital side) can continue to work from home when stores reopen.
All jewellers should consider who is essential to be on the premises and plan to have the minimum amount of people needed for the store to operate safely and effectively.
Employees should also consider if any of their workers fall into the vulnerable categories and, where possible, make allowances for them to work from home.
Jewellers will also need to make sure employees with Covid-19 symptoms– or living with someone showing symptoms – does not come to work.
Social distancing at work – people must maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible
This has already been outlined in the BRC guidelines and has been affirmed in the government’s work safety document.
All jewellers need to ensure staff and customers maintain 2 metres apart when the stores reopen. This includes all areas of the business – from the front, to the showroom, to back offices and staff rooms.
Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.
Similarly to the BRC, the government recommends:
- Staggering arrival and departures times to reduce crowds in and out of the workplace
- Reducing congestion, for example, by having more entry points to the workplace in larger stores.
- Using markings and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points.
- Providing handwashing facilities (or hand sanitiser where not possible) at entry and exit points.
- Providing alternatives to touch-based security devices such as keypads.
- Reducing movement in the store by discouraging by, for example, restricting access to some areas and encouraging use of radios or telephones, where permitted.
- Introducing one-way flow through the store.
- Providing floor markings and signage to remind both workers and customers to follow to social distancing wherever possible.
The government also advices giving employees ‘workplace’ stations – meaning staff will be assigned to specific areas of the store/ back office to work in. For example, one employee may stay behind the fashion jewellery counter, while another looks after the bridal lounge.
Jewellers should also consider how they do their morning meetings whilst adhering to social distancing measures.
Managing your customers, visitors and contractors
Again, this part of the document is similar to the BRC guidelines.
As expected, jewellers may need to make physical changes to the store, to enable social distancing to take place, and the number of people able to be in a store at a given time whilst staying 2 metres apart should be considered.
The government advises jewellers:
- Define the number of customers that can reasonably follow 2m social distancing within the store and any outdoor selling areas.
- Limit the number of customers in the store, overall and in any particular congestion areas, for example doorways between outside and inside spaces.
- Suspend or reduce customer services that cannot be undertaken without contravening social distancing guidelines.
- Encourage customers to shop alone where possible
- Remind customers who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines.
- Look at how people walk through the shop and how you could adjust this to reduce congestion and contact between customers, for example, queue management or one-way flow, where possible.
Whatever steps a jeweller takes, these will need to be clearly communicated to staff and customers to ensure everyone understands the new rules.
All companies should make the guidelines on social distancing and hygiene clear to all who enter their premises.
Cleaning the workplace
Before reopening the government says retailers should assess cleaning procedures and check whether they need to service or adjust ventilation systems.
Once open, stores will need to be frequently cleaned, with particular attention paid to any surfaces that may be touched.
Jewellers will also need to clean work areas and equipment before use.
Furthermore, the government says objects that are regularly touched by customers must be frequently cleaned, meaning jewellers will need to be prepared clean jewellery pieces after they have been tried on.
Most of the advice on cleaning is common sense – but the main message is to clean frequently and pay particular attention to anything or surface being touched by staff or customers.
To help keep the store safe, jewellers should also provide a way for staff and customers to keep their hands clean – either through a bathroom where they can wash their hands or hand sanitiser.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and face coverings
When managing the risk of COVID-19, the government says additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial. This is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.
Workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. Unless you are in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it.
There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms. A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. It just needs to cover your mouth and nose. It is not the same as a face mask, such as the surgical masks or respirators used by health and care workers.
Additionally to the above, the document enforces the message that communication is key. Staff must be fully informed of changes and regulations in their place of work at all times.
Read the full guidelines for shops and branches HERE.
Read more about what jewellery stores will look like below: