We understand this is a difficult time for everyone with the uncertainty about how it will affect businesses, jobs and our loved ones, so we would like to share with you our advice and answer some questions that we have recently been asked.
First and foremost, our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Our main priority is the health and wellbeing of our staff and clients. We are continuing to offer support, advice, consultancy and training to provide clients with the health and safety support they need whilst ensuring our staff remain safe themselves and do not pose a risk to any of the customers who we visit. We are continuing to visit client sites to carry out work as normal whilst following the social distancing guidelines. For more advice we have written a contingency policy which you can read on our website or download for free.
What is Social Distancing?
Social distancing is about keeping two meters apart from people because the virus spreads through the droplets that are produced when people cough, sneeze or even talk. If enough distance is kept the droplets will not spread far enough to reach the other person.
Social Distancing at Work
Maintaining 2 metres distance at work, especially if working on a busy conveyor system, can sometimes be a problem. Some simple measures can help to ensure that there are not too many people in the same place at the same time. Consider:
– Staging start and finish times so people to reduce the number of people leaving/entering simultaneously.
– Offering hours outside of rush hour to reduce crowded trains, buses etc.
– If some people can work at home, enable those at work to spread out.
– In industrial premises, alter break times so less people are using refreshments and welfare facilities at the same time.
– Rearrange work areas so people are not standing directly next to each other. The minimum should be 1.5 metres if the full 2 metres cannot be achieved.
– If colleagues still need to work closely, consider provision of FFP3 face-masks to contain water droplets /vapour being emitted into the atmosphere where they can spread.
Can Good Hygiene Stop the spread?
Washing hands is the key factor in reducing spread of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases. This is better than hand sanitiser overall as when done properly any germs/bacteria on your hands are washed down the sink.
How to wash hands correctly:
Step 1: Wet hands with warm /hot water.
Step 2: Use soap and rub vigorously for 20 seconds.
Step 3: Rinse hands thoroughly.
Step 4: Dry hands with an air dryer or disposable towel.
Step 5: Turn off tap with towel (or tissue) to prevent reinfection and then dispose.
Should We Provide Sanitiser?
Sanitiser is important in particular for those who do not have quick and easy access to hand-washing facilities. So, if you have workers who are travelling, or are not close to welfare facilities, you should consider providing sanitiser as a priority. In addition, provision of sanitisers at reception for anyone entering the premises is important, as is having it accessible for those entering rest areas/canteens and break-out rooms where people take their work breaks. This should be an additional control, over and above the discipline of frequent hand-washing.
Are Face Masks Necessary?
Provided people maintain ideally a minimum of 2 metres distance, and a minimum of 1.5 metres, a face mask should not be necessary in most workplaces to protect from Coronavirus. Some workplaces, such as those providing health and social care services, or medical services will have much higher need for use of a mask. Further guidance can be obtained from here https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance
A mask is a good safety measure to use if you have COVID-19 or you are showing symptoms because it will help you to minimise the risk spreading the virus. However, wearing a mask will not necessarily protect you from getting the virus but will help with reducing transmission through droplets and vapour entering the atmosphere whilst talking, coughing or sneezing.
Can We Still Run Training Sessions?
Classroom sessions have almost stopped during the current outbreak; however, they can still be run provided good social distancing protocol is followed and those attending are not displaying any symptoms (dry cough, fever etc). This may be subject to change, however, if the government advice becomes more restrictive.
You will need to ensure there is a room large enough to enable distance between attendees, and those attending will need to follow high levels of personal hygiene (coughing/sneezing into a tissue or into their sleeve/elbow), sanitising hands immediately afterwards or even leaving the room to wash their hands. A ready supply of tissues and hand sanitiser is recommended to facilitate the highest levels of hygiene, and assurance to everyone, that everything reasonably practicable is being done.
While many of you have staff working from home, now is the time to renew and update their health and safety training. We provide health and safety e-learning courses please click here to find out more. We can also train your people whilst they are less busy via bespoke training sessions tailored to your organisation, via video-conferencing media such as Teams and Zoom. Please call us on 01622 717700 if this is something you are interested in.
Should People Travel in the Course of Their Work?
The Government is stating that only essential travelling should occur. Travel to and from your workplace is regarded as essential travel (unless you can reasonably complete work from home). Many employees cannot complete their work from home, or need to visit their workplace for specific reasons and this is currently deemed to be acceptable.
Work to other locations requiring overnight travel should be minimised. Indeed, due to the closure of hotels, restaurants etc finding suitable accommodation is likely to be a very limiting factor in the person being able to travel distances that require overnight stays.
Where people need to travel, it is advisable (provided they have business insurance) to use private vehicles and to drive to their location rather than to use public transport as this maintains isolation whilst in transit.
Where public transport is needed, then this should be arranged outside of busy periods to reduce exposure to crowded spaces.