Coronavirus has, of course, been the main topic of discussion around the world over the last few weeks.
Especially now that many businesses are forced to close, and we are in virtual shut down.
There are of course, many businesses that are still operating throughout this crisis. From hospitals and care homes to factories and construction sites plus, of course our supermarkets and corner shops. These businesses all have a duty of care to their staff as well as to their customers and the public in general.
So there are a couple of questions that all of these businesses must ask themselves and these are: ‘What extra controls and precautions must we take’ and, ‘If we decide or are forced to close for a while, what are our duties then?’
So, this week I thought that I would look at these questions and try and guide you as to what you should do…
Coronavirus – Controls you should apply if your business is still open.
So let us start by looking at the legal bit
The Principal piece of Health & Safety Legislation is The Health & Safety at Work Etc Act 1974. This act puts duties on Employers, including the Self-employed and Employees.
Section 2 requires Employers, So Far as is Reasonably Practicable SFARP, to ensure the health and safety of all employees. This covers both their Physical and Mental health.
Section 3 requires Employers and the Self-employed to ensure, SFARP, that their activities do not expose others to risks. Such as people they do not employ, visitors and the general public.
Section 7 requires Employees to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and of other persons who may be affected by their actions.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 places a duty on employers to assess and manage risks to their employees and others arising from work activities.
So when we consider all of these laws and regulations you will see that you must risk assess your workplace looking at such areas as: Illness at work, Travel, Access points, Hand washing, First Aid, Toilet facilities, Canteen/eating Arrangements, Changing facilities, Close working and Cleaning.
In addition to these points, which I am going to discuss in this newsletter, you also must identify Vulnerable Workers, these can be older workers, workers with underlying health problems or even fit and healthy workers who have a vulnerable relative at home.
You must consider how the latest Government guidance might impact your existing safe systems without creating additional risks.
You must also consider the risks to those who are now working from home.
Illness at work
You must enforce the rule that workers MUST NOT come to work if they have symptoms of a high temperature, a persistent cough, or if they are themselves a vulnerable person or living with someone who is self-isolating or vulnerable.
Should a worker develop these symptoms they should
- Return home
- Avoid touching anything
- Follow guidance for coughing and sneezing
They should NOT return until a period of self-isolation has been completed.
What do you do if somebody becomes ill whilst at work and needs to be taken home?
If they are too ill to drive themselves home you MUST NOT put them into a car and have you or somebody else drive them home as there is a risk to the driver and others who may use the car. If they cannot get home by themselves safely then you must call 999 or 111 and follow their advice.
Travel to and from work
- It is very important that everybody should travel ALONE using their own transport. However, this may, in itself cause problems for you to risk assess. For example, will you need to make arrangements for additional parking for cars and bicycles?
- Everybody should avoid public transport if at all possible
- You should provide additional hand cleaning facilities at entrances and exits. Ideally with soap and water otherwise with antibacterial, at least 70% alcohol hand gel or wipes.
- You need to stop all non-essential visitors to your workplace
- Look at introducing staggered start and finish times so as to prevent workers bunching up to get in and out of doorways, site gates etc.
- You may need to monitor access points to ensure that everybody follows “Social Distancing” requirements.
- You must disable entry systems that use fingerprint scanners as these are a potential virus hotspot.
- Require all workers and visitors to wash/clean their hands before entering or leaving site.
- Regularly clean all common contact surfaces in receptions areas, entry points
- Consider outdoor inductions and briefings to allow distancing. Reduce numbers
- Delivery drivers should remain in their cabs wherever possible and safe to do so.
- You must increase the number of hand washing points especially if your site or factory is a large spread out one
- Ensure that the soap and water is always readily available and topped up
- Provide hand sanitiser, ideally at least 70% alcohol based, where soap and water not available
- Increase your cleaning regime of surfaces, floors etc as well as checks on soap and sanitiser levels
- Increase the number of bins for disposal of paper towels and regularly empty and dispose of contents
Gloves, aprons and masks should be disposed of after use and eye protection thoroughly cleaned
- Restrict the numbers of those using facilities at the same time – you can’t have two urinals being used that are less than 2metres apart.
- Encourage hand washing before and after use
- Enhance cleaning regimes to include door handles, locks and the toilet flush
- On building sites try and avoid portable toilets if possible. If not possible these need to be cleaned and emptied more frequently
- Increase the number of bins for disposal of paper towels and regularly empty and dispose of contents
Canteens / Eating Arrangements
You already have a requirement to provide means of heating food and hot drinks, however, in these exceptional times further steps should be taken
- Kettles, microwaves etc should be cleaned between uses
- Additional eating areas should be provided
- Break times should be staggered
- Hand cleaning facilities at entrance of any room or area
- Ask workforce to bring pre prepared meals and refillable drinks bottles from home
- People MUST sit 2 meters apart
- Drinking water should be provided with enhanced cleaning of any taps
- Tables must be cleaned between use
- All self-generated waste to be disposed of by individuals
- Enhanced cleaning of areas including chairs handles etc
- Introduce staggered start and finish times
- Enhance cleaning regimes
- Consider increasing number or size of facilities on site
- Determine on size of each facility how many people can use it based on distancing rules
- Provide additional rubbish bins
Close working should be avoided wherever possible; however, some tasks cannot be completed safely by following the 2 metre rule. If these tasks are essential, then some basic rules should be followed
- All skin to skin contact to be avoided by correct use of clothing and PPE
- You must plan work to minimise any close proximity working
- All PPE to be personal and not shared. Remember the P of PPE stands for Personal
- Use Gloves, Masks and eye protection as a minimum
- Single use PPE to be disposed of so it cannot be reused
- Re usable PPE to be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared
To avoid close working generally the following should be adopted
- Non essential work requiring close contact should not be carried out
- Use stairs rather than lifts or hoists if not possible reduce capacity
- Regularly clean touchpoints, door handles buttons etc
- Increase ventilation in enclosed spaces
- Regularly Clean inside of cabs especially if different operators share machines
- Reduce / eliminate site meetings by use of digital technology or hold meeting outside
Cleaning is of greater importance during this pandemic. Even very good well maintained clean sites will require enhanced cleaning procedures at this time and should cover as a minimum the following:
- Taps and washing facilities
- Toilet flush and seats
- All door handles, locks and push plates
- Hand rails on stairs and in corridors
- Lift and hoist controls
- Machinery and equipment controls (provide wipes in cabs)
- Food preparation and eating surfaces
- Telephone equipment
- Key boards, photocopiers and other office equipment
- Increased rubbish collection
- Reduce hot desking if possible, enforce clean desk policy
What if the workplace must close?
As of today, there are still some factories, construction sites and shops etc open and working as they carry out essential works as deemed by government policy.
Although this in the main appears to be broad it is clear that other factors will come into play over coming days and weeks which means such sites may need to shut down at short notice and it is therefore essential that those
in charge of sites plan now for such an eventuality.
The sort of things that may cause a shut down include:
- Change in government advice/policy
- Lack of materials because suppliers cannot deliver
- Dwindling workforce which results in making the works unsafe
- Lack of adequate supervision because supervisors are off ill or self isolating
- Client decides, in case of construction works, to suspend works until crisis is over.
Now most of you will already have controls in place that you use at times such as Christmas Holidays. However these plans need to be adapted for sudden or short notice closure and take account of the uncertain period any closure may remain in place.
It is important that discussions about these plans are discussed at board level or, for construction sites, held between the PC and Clients to establish what actions are needed and possible impact on Clients own activities.
Those activities that are safety critical must be identified so contingency plans can be put in place if the remainder of the site ceases work.
If some employees or contractors are required it may be necessary for Clients to provide letters to these people confirming the essential nature of the work.
Extra things to consider BEFORE closing a construction site
The following is a list of actions to be considered. It is not exhaustive but an indication only of some of the things to consider.
- Agree with plant suppliers minimum off hire notice period as you don’t want to be hit with additional charges for hire of equipment you are not using.
- Stand down/off hire all plant until further notice
- If Plant cannot be collected identify secure lockable facilities to deter theft and vandalism
- Remove all small tools from site either off hire or place in secure lockable containers
- Ensure all materials are store correctly ideally in a secure fenced area.
- Ensure all trip hazards and loose material are removed
- Have skips removed from site so as to reduce risk of arson etc
- Fill in all excavations or securely cover wherever possible
- Any pedestrian or other barriers that need to remain are securely tied down, sandbagged etc to take account of possible adverse weather conditions
- Make scaffolds safe remove access wherever possible All site boundary hoardings/ heras fencing is properly braced and panels clamped
- All temporary welfare cabins to be locked including any generators to be turned off and secured
- Agree key holders so that all keys for remaining plant, stores, welfare, fuel, COSHH and site offices can be kept off site
- Ensure any pedestrian walkways are clear and free of debris
- Remove all waste, flammable material etc
- Clear all fridges and clean all desks tables etc
- Clear and sign off any permits
- Photograph Site before leaving
- Agree site remobilisation procedure
This is going to be a trying time for most of us, but I am sure that we will all come out of it at the other end. Until then please all think hard about what you can do to reduce the spread of this virus. If you want guidance as to your duties or anything else regarding Health & Safety, please contact us by phone 01458 253682
Email [email protected] or via our Facebook page or by Twitter.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) and Pandemic Awareness E-Course
This online eLearning course is the essential Coronavirus (Covid-19) and pandemic awareness training that has been developed to provide vital awareness for staff and employees of any business.
Using a combination of text, images, video and interactive content the eLearning course looks at how pandemics and epidemics are spread and the potential risks in the workplace as well as how to protect yourself from being infected. It includes the latest health advice for Coronavirus as well as the symptoms to look out for and what to do if you think you’ve been infected. Crucially, it also provides a practical video on how to wash your hands.
In addition, the course covers information on how viruses are transmitted and the control measures to take to reduce transmission and infection. It looks at high risk groups, isolation as well as the chain of infection.
Importantly, the online training course will help to minimise the impact to your business and staff. The information contained in the course provides advice on preventative measures and what to do if further action is required.
As with our CPD accredited courses the SCORM compliant Coronavirus (Covid-19) and pandemic awareness training allows businesses to quickly and easily deploy pandemic training to a workforce. The simple-to-use learning platform provides an audit trail for all employees and stores their training records.
By the end of the Coronavirus and Pandemic Awareness course you will have learned about:
- Description of the Coronavirus
- Proportionate measures
- How to stay safe – Hygiene advice
- Facts or fiction
- What to do if you feel unwell
- Covid-19 advice
- Bulk buying – Fact or fiction
- Self-isolation advice
- Touching your face – fact or fiction
- The difference between an endemic, epidemic and pandemic
- Recent pandemics
- High risk groups
- Introduction to viruses
- Transmission from hard surfaces
- Hygiene advice
- Flu vaccinations
- Treating symptoms
- Face masks advice
- The chain of infection
- Incubation and infection
- Sources of information
Pandemic Awareness: COVID-19 course content
- Understanding Pandemics
- How Viruses Spread
- The Chain of Infection
Who should complete this course?
The Pandemic Awareness: COVID-19 course is designed for all employees at all levels.
Prior Learning? – None required
Pre Course learning? – None required
Certification – All learners who successfully complete the module will be issued with a certificate of learning
Duration – Approximately 20 minutes
What is the cost of this course?
Companies will be able to buy credits. Each of these credits will allow 1 allocated person access to 1 course. The cost of these credits will reduce based on the number of credits purchased. See pricing chart below:
All online training courses are reduced by 20% for the next few weeks. The discount will be applied at the checkout automatically.
Remember – There is no limit on the time it takes to use the credits