The UK is getting back into business. Gradually, sector by sector, we are beginning to embrace the ‘new normal’, and businesses are raring to go. After the most recent loosening of lockdown measures, many pubs, bars, and restaurants have opened their doors to the public again. The likelihood is that it won’t be too long before most offices will begin to reopen as well, and the 8.4 million people who were furloughed and the many working from home will return to their workplace, ready to make up for lost time.
However, it won’t be quite as simple as wandering back to your old desk, greeting your colleagues, and carrying on as if nothing has changed. Workplaces are set to undergo a complete transformation, adjusting to the legal requirements of social distancing and the ethical requirements of supplying employees with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to enable them to feel safe. The new workplace will involve many essential measures, but from squirts of sanitiser to mandatory face masks, how much is this all going to cost? Let’s take a closer look at the breakdown of PPE costs and find out how much the UK is going to have to spend on the safety and wellbeing of its workers over the following months.
Two pumps of hand sanitiser per hour for every worker: £3,058,560
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, hand sanitiser has become an essential item, and many wouldn’t leave their home, let alone re-enter the workplace, without one in their bag. The Health and Safety Executive has set out guidelines for the use of hand sanitiser, including tips on how to identify a suitable product for your workplace, but how much is this product really going to set us back?
For every full-time employee to be supplied with two pumps of hand sanitiser for every hour they are at work, the overall cost for one day back in the office will amount to £3,058,560. And it looks as if this measure will certainly be needed for the foreseeable future.
Two face masks for each worker: £72,000,000
Face masks are absolutely essential for frontline workers and they are now also a legal requirement for anyone travelling on public transport in most parts of the UK. It will be at the discretion of each business as to whether facemasks are essential. But for service industry workers in particular, face masks are of great importance and could play a vital role in protecting staff.
In total, the UK would have to pay out £36,000,000 to ensure that every full-time worker has access to a face mask every day. For two masks each, which would be more appropriate, the cost would amount to £72,000,000.
Floor markings in all commercial spaces: £1,234,309,789
Social distancing is set to remain in place as we return to our places of work, with 2m being the original rule, and 1m distancing coming into play when necessary (‘1m-plus’). However, when there is a large number of employees or customers in one space, temporary floor stickers are necessary to uphold the social distancing regulations.
In the UK today, there are 678,192,192m of commercial space. So, to have social distance markings at every 2m, it will collectively cost £1,234,309,789 for businesses to comply.
A deep clean of all commercial spaces in the UK: £2,373,672,672
As well as getting all the PPE in place as employees gradually re-enter the workplace across the country, businesses are going to have to step up their hygiene efforts. Naturally, this will call for regular deep cleans.
For every business to conduct one thorough deep clean, covering every inch of commercial floor space in the country, the overall cost will come to £2,373,672,672.
Finally, we have the cost of training staff in essential health and safety procedures. Thankfully, the World Health Organization is offering online training courses free of charge. The courses include subjects such as infection and prevention control, health and safety briefings for respiratory diseases, and operational planning guidelines.
Overall total: £3,683,041,021
So, for day one back in the office, the collective cost to the UK will be an astonishing £3,683,041,021. The costs may seem steep, but for the businesses that are beginning to reopen, health and safety must be the priority.