How to create a safe environment when staff return to work

Keeping your employees safe and healthy is now a priority for every business. And with 67% of people admitting they’re more afraid of germs and more conscious of hygiene than before the pandemic, that will remain true long after we can control COVID-19.

What is needed now are long-term solutions, especially for blue collar workers and sectors such as the hospitality industry. So we thought we’d share with you our thoughts and tips on returning to the workplace safely.

It’s more than just washing your hands

Yes, washing hands is a great – and simple – way to avoid contamination. But there’s so much more to consider. An increasing number of businesses are looking to disinfect high touch surfaces rather than merely clean them. Transport for London is a good example, where continuous UV cleansing of escalator handrails is being trialled. Designed to reassure nervous commuters, the company is using “long-lasting hospital-grade cleaning substances that kill viruses and bacteria on contact”.

And tap manufacturer Grohe has seen a steep rise in orders for non-touch taps, whilst the trend for second sinks for hand-washing (traditionally found only in restaurant kitchens) is now being integrated into aspirational domestic kitchens.

Going forwards, there is a need for a complete hygiene solution to protect against virus transmission in shared spaces. And that solution must cover three essential facets: hand washing/surface sanitisation, air cleaning and social distancing.

Hospitality and other workforces more exposed

Whilst office-based employees are clearly in need of protection, the situation is even more precarious for those that don’t work in the “office”. These people have always been exposed to increased health risks in crowded workplaces such as warehouses and workshops. And for hospitality workers who come into close contact with members of the public, the dangers posed by COVID-19 transmission are increased yet further. Add to this the impracticality of 2m social distancing in many manual workplaces, and it’s easy to see how nonoffice workers face special problems.

Any health regime must be broad enough to cover all workers in all workplaces. So let’s begin with the basics: cleaning and hygiene…

Cleaning and hygiene

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 demands that all employers protect the health and safety of employees and others – as far as is reasonable and practicable. But since the pandemic, employers will also need to support employees experiencing poor mental health as a result of COVID-19. Andrew Milner, Pelsis Group Chief Executive, summed it up when he said: “Businesses and organisations must build trust with the public and give them confidence to return to their premises”.

So it’s vital not only to keep your workplace clean – but to be seen to be implementing a deep-down cleaning and hand-washing regime.

Such visible action is not only for the benefit of your workers. 58% of shoppers have changed their habits because of how safe or unsafe they perceive individual shops to be. And in a recent study, it was found that over 70% of diners now avoid any restaurant/café/bar experiences if first impressions don’t give them confidence that the business is protecting customers’ personal hygiene.

Ramp up your cleaning regime

Let’s start with the obvious: make sure you provide things like face masks, gloves, face shields, glass walls and hand sanitizers. And display your sanitisation and cleaning regime for all to see.

Our return to work COVID-19 safety packs do that for you – they have been put together to provide each member of your team with enough PPE and hygiene essential products to protect whilst at work and during their commute. Our packs contain enough face masks, hand sanitiser gel, gloves and wipes to protect one, three or five individuals for 5 working days.


You can purchase our COVID packs on our website


Introducing health screening protocols for anyone entering the workplace is also something we recommend, then step-up your office sanitation procedures for janitorial staff and employees.

Be sure to keep any kitchen areas spotless and well-stocked too – ditto your restrooms. You can check out our full range of sanitisers and cleaning products here.

We are also offering a new range of automatic no-touch hand sanitiser dispensers, suitable for retail, restaurants, pubs and a range of commercial installations and properties. These battery powered units have been designed for quick and easy installation, allowing them to be installed and powered without the need for a permanent installation.


Our range of automatic no-touch hand sanitiser dispensers, available on our webstore


But don’t go over the top.

Washing your hands too often strips the skin of its natural oils and protective layer which act as a barrier to germs and bacteria. What’s more, the over-use of sanitisers and disinfectants damages our environment. So it’s important to clean effectively. One way to do this is to clean surfaces first before you disinfect them so that the germs aren’t hidden by dirt. Remember, though: never mix cleaning and disinfecting che­micals together. For example, if bleach and ammonia are mixed, they produce toxic gases that can be lethal.

There is an increasing demand for more sustainable sanitisers too. The risk associated with storing high volumes of alcohol-based products is a huge fire risk, making it difficult to maintain insurances. There is now a growing market for 0% alcohol sanitisers that are a lot more sustainable for the environment and businesses. Here at Upstream we’ll be more than happy to recommend the best for you.­


That’s part 1 of our top tips on maintaining a clean and healthy workplace. Here at Upstream we’ve a huge selection of all the finest health and safety products, including all the biggest brands from around the world. And we haven’t even touched on air quality yet…


Share this page

Reddit Facebook LinkedIn Twitter

Upstream’s response during the pandemic has been impeccable, supplying us with 2 million face masks at short notice has helped us to continue providing food to supermarkets nationwide.

Leading UK Food Company

Explore Our Clients

Let's Work Together

Get in touch today. We're ready and waiting to show you how we can help your business to flourish.

Join Us Today


61-96 Greenway Business Centre
Harlow Business Park,
Harlow, Essex CM19 5QE

Our website uses cookies to help improve your experience.
Find out more by reading our Cookies Policy.