Going back to a new normal?
At the beginning of 2021, almost a year after the first wave of Covid-19 and lockdown impacted us all, the UK government announced a roadmap for the easing of restrictions. With the vaccination programme currently in full swing with over 70,000 vaccinations being given as of 14 June 2021[i], there has been a shift in people returning to the workplace. As the latest Deloitte CFO survey shows, the largest share of leaders at major UK companies believe the majority of their staff will be back in the office in Q3 this year.[ii] However, a hybrid model of working between the office and home is also looking to become commonplace.
With this is mind, the UK government and HSE have set out guidance on what employers need to do to make the work environment as safe as possible for their returning employees.
Covid-secure? The UK HSE[iii] has said that being 'Covid-secure' means businesses need to put in place workplace adjustments to manage the risk and protect workers and others from coronavirus.
Concerns about returning to the workplace
There has been some reluctance from employees in returning to the workplace due to Covid-19. While it is widely understood that Covid-19 is mainly spread through close contact from person-to-person, different routes of transmission continue to be studied. Evidence now confirms that Covid-19 can remain airborne for longer times and for further distances than originally believed and that Covid-19 particles spread between individuals more readily indoors than outdoors.
While employers will have gone to considerable efforts to make their workplaces Covid-secure, many people are still uncomfortable with commuting on public transport. This is more prevalent for people who may need to travel longer distances outside of their local area and concerns about mixing outside of existing support bubbles remain.
Finally, the occurrence of new variants of Covid-19 are also a cause of concern. Currently, the Delta variant is thought to be more transmissible, and a newer variant, Gamma, has also been reported. It is likely that new variants with differing levels of infectiousness, fatality and immunity to vaccines will continue to appear and make individuals wary.
Covid-secure work environments with SilverGuard
While it should be recognised that no product, innovation, or cleaning regime can be 100% effective at eliminating the risk of Covid-19 in the workplace, there are measures that can be put in place to minimise this risk.
SilverGuard offers a wide range of antimicrobial products that provide an added level of safety assurance for both you and your colleagues. All our products are made using Noble Biomaterial’s proprietary IONIC+™ silver thread technology which inhibit the growth of microbes, even drug-resistant bacteria and viruses, on the surface of fabrics. The efficacy of IONIC+ has been tested against a wide array of bacteria, viruses and fungi including SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19).[iv] Like antibiotics, silver ions inhibit pathogen growth and reproduction. These silver ions create a zone of inhibition around itself which disrupts DNA/RNA within a virus in addition to destroying the outer cell membrane which means the virus is no longer viable. This happens as the virus passes through the filter material containing IONIC+ and the zone of inhibition created by the silver ions.
- Air filters: incorporating SilverGuard’s antimicrobial air filter into an existing HVAC system is a practical and straightforward solution to make an indoor environment more Covid-secure. SilverGuard antimicrobial air filters have been specifically tested against several viral pathogens including SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) in accordance with the ISO 18180:2019 standard for antiviral testing on textiles. Our antimicrobial air filters can be fitted alongside any existing filters to provide an added level of antimicrobial protection with a negligible loss in air flow.
- Face coverings: health organisations and governments have advocated the use of face coverings when outside of the home, and it has been acknowledged that any face covering that covers the nose and mouth will be of benefit in reducing the spread of Coronavirus and other airborne pathogens. The added benefit of SilverGuard face coverings, both face masks and snoods, is that they both offer self-sanitising antimicrobial protection. Our face masks are three layers, in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and have a filtration efficiency of over 90%. Face coverings offer employees protection in the work environment and the commute to and from work.
- Uniforms: for workplaces that require their employees to wear a uniform, these can be made using antimicrobial fabric. Clothing is a high touch surface and is continuously exposed to pathogens between launderings, so SilverGuard antimicrobial uniforms work to eliminate cross contamination by this route. The self-sanitising silver thread technology also ensures no behavioural modification is required by employees and with our ability to work with your existing suppliers there is no loss of functionality or design.
- Other soft touch surfaces: SilverGuard can deliver a variety of soft touch surface solutions. These include aprons, hand towels and linens, which all incorporate the IONIC+™ antimicrobial silver thread technology. We are able to work with your existing fabric supplier to incorporate the antimicrobial silver thread into your existing fabric products such as upholstery and curtains.
Covid-secure, the new normal
With the ongoing pandemic, talks of third and even possibly fourth waves, Covid-19 is not going to go away in the short to medium-term. Ensuring Covid-secure workplaces is becoming the new normal. SilverGuard can offer a number of immediate, practical and cost-efficient solutions to make yourself, your employees and your customers feel safer. Please contact us today to discuss your Covid-secure workplace needs.
For information about SilverGuard see here.
SilverGuard face masks, snoods and air filters are all made in Britain.
[i] Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the UK, https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/vaccinations
[iii] UK HSE, www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/index.htm
[iv] SilverGuard, www.silver-guard.co.uk/news/ionic-dramatically-reduces-the-viability-of-microbes-on-soft-surfaces/
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