The UK is getting back into business. Gradually, sector by sector, we are beginning to embrace the ‘new normal’, and businesses are once again 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, in the coming weeks and months, many 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 getting back to normal 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 PPE to feel safe in the workplace. 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 fork out for the safety and wellbeing of its workers in the following months.
2 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. Health and Safety England have 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 single full-time employee to get 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 like this measure will certainly be needed for the foreseeable future.
2 face masks for each worker — £72,000,000
Next up, we have face masks. 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 each business’s own discretion whether or not facemasks are essential in the workplace. 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 fork out £36,000,000to ensure that each and every full-time worker has access to a face mask. For two masks each, which would be more appropriate, the cost would amount to a staggering £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 two metres being the original rule, and one metre 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 [DK1] are necessary to uphold the social distancing regulations.
In the UK today, there are 678,192,192.00 square metres of commercial space. So, to have social distance markings at every two metres, it will collectively cost £1,234,309,789 for businesses in the UK.
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 dramatically step up their hygiene efforts. Naturally, this will call for regular deep cleans so that every surface is left sparkling.
For every business to conduct one thorough deep clean, therefore covering every inch of commercial square foot in the country, the overall cost will come to £2,373,672,672.
Training — Free!
Finally, we have the cost of training staff in essential health and safety procedures. Thankfully, the World Health Organization is offering online training courses completely free of charge. These courses include subjects such as Infection and Prevention Control, health and safety briefings for respiratory diseases, Operational Planning Guidelines, and more.
Overall total — £3,683,041,021
So, for day one back in the office, the collective cost for the UK will be a staggering, £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 above all else.
In relation to a safe return of the workforce, Gary Peeling, Chief Executive Officer at Where The Trade Buys, said: “With shared office spaces gradually reopening, businesses will require numerous health and safety products to ensure the safeguarding of their staff. Ahead of office doors reopening, careful planning will be needed in order to put the necessary protective equipment in place and enhance health and safety measures before employees return to the workplace.”
Gary Peeling is CEO at UK commercial print company: Where The Trade Buys, currently producing PPE for UK workplaces, hospitality venues, retail stores, education spaces, charity shops, the NHS and more. The company has also been involved in manufacturing face visors for NHS essential workers in the fight against Covid-19.