01522 527 544 / 07377 135 747 info@optimum-safety.co.uk

COVID-19

Welcome to our Coronavirus (COVID-19) page

We have been working extensively to supply COVID-19 documentation to both our existing and new clients throughout this pandemic.  Chris has completed a number of webinars for Lincolnshire Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), South/East Yorkshire & Humber FSB as well as the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce. From the positive feedback we have received from the FSB and the Chamber of Commerce these have been of great benefit to all that have attended.

This page is dedicated to the ongoing updates and guidance being introduced by the government and the HSE as well as providing you with our own tips and advice on how to keep yourself, your employees and your company safe during the current pandemic.

To stay informed on our regular updates you can bookmark this page. We shall also be reporting on other health and safety matters on our blog page alongside our monthly newsletter.

At Optimum Safety Management we are very aware of the profound affect the current COVID-19 pandemic is having on every one of us, both professionally and personally. We would like to begin by reassuring all of our clients that we have put sufficient measures in place to continue to bring you your normal service.

Our main priority is to keep our employees and clients safe. In order to do so, we have had to make small changes to the way we work as a team, meetings with clients and 3rd parties (where possible) are held over live streaming services or via telephone.  If we visit your premises for an inspection or an audit the 2 meter social distancing is being followed at all times.

It is important to remember; this current situation will pass. However, we do know how vital it is for you to keep your company and employees protected and ready to go once “normality” returns. We shall be posting regular updates and tips on the ever-changing guidance and how it affects you as a business and ways you can implement it efficiently.

We have produced a full suite of COVID-19 documentation that we can tailor to your business requirements. For more information please click here.

We shall continue to post blogs, send out our monthly newsletter and email bulletins on all matters health and safety. If you don’t currently receive our newsletters and you wish to subscribe, please click here.

If you can’t find what you are looking for or would like advice and documentation, you can contact us via email info@4be3c55ea0fc91af1e5da8fab-18570.sites.k-hosting.co.uk alternatively you can give us a call on 01522 527 544.

Finally, we would like to wish the best to you all during these difficult times. Stay safe, alert and positive, we hope to hear from you all soon.

Latest Updates

14th May 2021

COVID spot checks and inspections continue as lockdown measures are lifted

As lockdown eases, HSE is continuing to carry out spot checks and inspections on businesses in all areas to check they have COVID-secure measures in place. 

Being COVID-secure means being adaptable to the current guidance and putting measures in place to manage the risk of coronavirus and making sure workers follow them. 

During the spot checks and inspections, HSE will provide guidance where required but, where businesses are not managing the risk, immediate action will be taken. 

Making your workplace COVID-secure

Every workplace should have a COVID risk assessment and it should be updated regularly. Using the risk assessment you should put workplace control measures in place with include: 

  • Working from home 
  • Social distancing 
  • Adequate ventilation 
  • Frequent cleaning and handwashing 
  • Vulnerable workers 

You should also talk to your employees and involve them in the measures you are putting in place when making your workplace COVID-secure. 

To read more on this you can visit the HSE’s website here. 

24th March 2021

How the rules will change on 29 March 

Some of the rules on what you can and cannot do will change on the 29th March. 

From the 29th March: 

  • You will be able to meet outdoors either in a group of 6 (from any number of households), or in a group of any size from up to 2 households (each household can include existing support bubbles, if eligible) 
  • You will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports with any number of people (outdoor sports venues and facilities will be able to reopen) 
  • Childcare and supervised activities will be allowed outdoors for all children.
  • Formally organised parent and child groups will be able to take place outdoors for up to 15 attendees. Children under 5 will not be counted in this number.

From the 1st of April, if you have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable you will no longer be advised to shield. However, you should continue to take extra precautions to protect yourself. 

To read more you can visit the GOV website by clicking here. 

12th March 2021

COVID: A Year on

 

23rd February 2021

Prime Minister sets out roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions

Last night the Government  published a four-step roadmap to ease restrictions across England and provided a route back to a more normal way of life.

Each step is to be assessed against four tests before restrictions ease, starting with the return of schools on 8th March. This assessment will be based on four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  • Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally change by new Variants of Concern.

There will be a minimum of 5 weeks between each step; four weeks for the data to reflect changes in restrictions; followed by seven days’ notice of the restrictions to be eased.

From the 8th March: 

  • All children and students will return to face to face education in schools and colleges.
  • Wraparound childcare and other supervised children’s activities can resume where they enable parents to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care or attend a support group.
  • Care home residents will be allowed one regular visitor provided they are tested and wear PPE.
  • The Stay at Home requirement will remain, but people can leave home for recreation outdoors such as a coffee or picnic with their household or support bubble, or with one person outside their household.
  • Some university students on practical courses will be able to return to face to face learning.

From the 29th March: 

  • Outdoor gatherings of up to either 6 people or 2 households will be allowed. This includes in private gardens.
  • Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts will be allowed to reopen.
  • At this point, the Stay at Home order will end, although many lockdown restrictions will remain. You should continue to work at home where possible.

From the 12th April:

  • Non-essential retail, personal care premises, such as hairdressers and nail salons, and public buildings, such as libraries and community centres, will reopen.
  • Most outdoor attractions and settings, including zoos, and theme parks, will also reopen although wider social contact rules will apply in these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households. Drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances will also be permitted.
  • Indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools, will also reopen – But only for use by people on their own or with their household.
  • Hospitality venues can serve people outdoors only. There will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcohol, and no curfew – although customers must order, eat and drink while seated. 
  • Self-contained accommodation, such as holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen. 
  • Funerals can continue with up to 30 people, and the numbers able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15. 

From the 17th May:

  • Outdoors, most social contact rules will be lifted – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal. 
  • Outdoor performances such as outdoor cinemas, outdoor theatres and outdoor cinemas can reopen. Indoors, the rule of 6 or 2 households will apply – although we will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this. 
  • Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen. 
  • Larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is lower) will also be allowed, as will those in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4000 people or half-full (whichever is lower).
  • In the largest outdoor seated venues where crowds can spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower). 
  • Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals. Other life events that will be permitted include bar mitzvahs and christenings. 

From the 21st June:

  • It is hoped all legal limits on social contact can be removed. 
  • We hope to reopen nightclubs, and lift restrictions on large events and performances that apply in Step 3.
  • This will also guide decisions on whether all limits can be removed on weddings and other life events. 

In the meantime, the vaccination programme continues at pace, with the announcement of a new target to offer a first dose of the vaccine to every adult by the end of July. 

To read more on the latest information you can click here. 

 

19th February 2021

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

The Government have now released guidance on apprenticeships and how to keep apprentices safe during the current pandemic. 

This document is for providers, employers, assessment organisations and apprentices. 

It describes:

  • The temporary flexibilities which have been applied during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
  • How and when apprentices can safely train and undertake an assessment in the workplace and educational and assessment settings.

To download your copy of the guidance or to read more you can click here. 

10th February 2021

IOSH Podcast: COVID-19 and its impact on the enforcement 

The latest episode of the IOSH magazine podcast features a discussion with regulatory lawyer Rhian Greaves on the impact the pandemic has had on the service of our safety, health and environmental regulatory agencies are providing. 

Rhian gives and overview of how enforcement shifted in 2020, what she believes regulatory interventions will look like in 2021, and offers advice on how to deal with regulators.

Click here to listen to the latest podcast.

8th February 2021

HSE has published updated guidance on disinfecting premises during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The guidance on disinfecting premises during the pandemic has been updated to include joint advice on risks to health that can be created by using walk-through spraying or misting systems. 

Spraying people with disinfectants is not recommended under any circumstances (including in a tunnel, cabinet, or chamber). The World Health Organisation has also confirmed that it could be harmful and does not reduce the spread of the virus. This is because transmission is usually through droplets or contact, so the effectiveness of these systems is likely to be minimal. 

To read the updated guidance click here.

1st February 2021

UK government secures additional 40 million does of Valneva Vaccine 

The UK Government has today (Monday 1st February 2021) signed a deal for a further 40 million doses of Valneva’s promising vaccine candidate. 

The latest deal will bolster long-term vaccine production in Scotland and brings the total UK vaccine portfolio to 407 million doses over the next 2 years. 

The vaccine candidate is currently in phase 1/11 trials and will still need to meet the necessary safety and effectiveness standards and receive regulatory approval from the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before it is rolled out at the end of the year. 

However, if it is approved, manufacturing at risk now mean that the UK can roll the vaccine out across the country quicker.  

For more information, click here.

27th January 2021

Spot checks and inspections continue during national lockdown

With the high level of coronavirus cases and national lockdown restrictions in place, all businesses that continue to operate must ensure their workplace is COVID-secure.

To protect all workers, visitors and customers, employers must make sure that everyone is following the measures that have been put in pace to manage the risks from coronavirus. 

During the lockdown the HSE will continue to carry out spot checks and inspections on businesses and will be increasing the number of calls and visits to check COVID-secure measures have been implemented in accordance with government guidance. 

This includes all businesses which are continuing to operate with people coming into the workplace during this critical period. 

Please ensure your workplace is safe by following the guidance on being COVID-secure. For further information on the latest guidance click here.

26th January 2021

Spot checks and inspections from the HSE – What to expect

19th January 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus. 

Who can get the vaccine?
The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus. In England, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at hundreds of local vaccination centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres. More centres are opening all the time. It’s being given to:

  • People aged 80 and over 
  • Some people aged 70 and over 
  • Some people who are clinically extremely vulnerable 
  • People who live or work in care homes 
  • Health and social care workers

You also need to be registered with a GP surgery in England. You can register with a GP if you do not have one. The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Read the latest JCVI advice on priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccination on GOV.UK

How the COVID vaccine is given
The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm. It’s given as 2 doses. You will have the 2nd dose 3 to 12 weeks after having the 1st dose.

How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.

Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.

So far, thousands of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported. To find out more about the vaccines approved in the UK, see:
Pfizer vaccine information 
Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine information 
Moderna vaccine information

How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the 2 doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.

There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccine side effects
Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

  • A sore arm where the needle went in 
  • Feeling tired 
  • A headache 
  • Feeling achy 
  • Feeling or being sick

To read more information on all the latest COVID vaccines click here.

7th January 2021

Summary: what you can & cannot do during the national lockdown

You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home and protect the NHS and save lives.

We should all follow this guidance immediately. The law will be updated to reflect these new rules.

Leaving Home
You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

  • shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
  • go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
  • exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
  • meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
  • seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • attend education or childcare – for those eligible

Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.

Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work

Going to Work

You may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home.

Where people cannot work from home – including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing – they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.

Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.

Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes – for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople – you can do so. Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 Secure measures may not be in place.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

Businesses and Venues Which Must Close
To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services. The full list of businesses required to close can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:

  • non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.
  • hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery.
  • accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites, except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for providing accommodation or support to the homeless, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes
  • leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts, fitness and dance studios, riding arenas at riding centres, climbing walls, and golf courses.
  • entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks
  • animal attractions (such as zoos, safari parks, aquariums, and wildlife reserves)
  • indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open for outdoor exercise.
  • personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes
  • community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities, as set out below. Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services

Some of these businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities. A full list of exemptions can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:

  • education and training – for schools to use sports, leisure and community facilities where that is part of their normal provision
  • childcare purposes and supervised activities for those children eligible to attend
  • hosting blood donation sessions and food banks
  • to provide medical treatment
  • for elite sports persons to train and compete (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), and professional dancers and choreographers to work (in fitness and dance studios)
  • for training and rehearsal without an audience (in theatres and concert halls)
  • for the purposes of film and TV filming

Businesses and Venues Which Can Remain Open
Other businesses and venues are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 secure guidelines. Businesses providing essential goods and services can stay open. The full list of these businesses can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:

  • essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences
  • market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open
  • businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services
  • petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses
  • banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses
  • funeral directors
  • laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • medical and dental services
  • vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals
  • animal rescue centres, boarding facilities and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes)
  • agricultural supplies shops
  • mobility and disability support shops
  • storage and distribution facilities
  • car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas
  • outdoor playgrounds
  • outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise
  • places of worship
  • crematoriums and burial grounds

Going to School, College and University
Colleges, primary (reception onwards) and secondary schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term.

In the circumstances, we do not think it is possible for all exams in the summer to go ahead as planned. We will accordingly be working with Ofqual to consult rapidly to put in place alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly.

Public exams and vocational assessments scheduled to take place in January will go ahead as planned.

Meeting Others
You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).

You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.

You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.

Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.

When You Can Leave Home
You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes:

  • Work – you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home, including but not limited to people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance
  • Volunteering – you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.
  • Essential activities – you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.
  • Education and childcare – You can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend. Access to education and children’s activities for school-aged pupils is restricted. See further information on education and childcare. People can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes childcare bubbles.
  • Meeting others and care – You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work, and not to enable social contact between adults), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, to attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.
  • Exercise – You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.You should maintain social distancing. See exercising and meeting other people.
  • Medical reasons – You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies.
  • Harm and compassionate visits – you can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse). You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.
  • Animal welfare reasons – you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.
  • Communal worship and life events – You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony. You should follow the guidance on the safe use of places of worship and must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble when attending a place of worship. Weddings, funerals and religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to someone’s death are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend, and weddings and civil ceremonies may only take place in exceptional circumstances.

There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.

Exercising and Meeting Other People
You should minimise time spent outside your home.
It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
  • or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • playgrounds

Outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, must close.

When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household – meaning the people you live with – or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).

You must wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport, unless you are exempt. This is the law. Read guidance on face coverings.

Travel
You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes). If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to:

  • work, where you cannot reasonably work from home
  • accessing education and for caring responsibilities
  • visiting those in your support bubble – or your childcare bubble for childcare
  • visiting hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
  • buying goods or services that you need, but this should be within your local area wherever possible
  • outdoor exercise. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
  • attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services

If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.

Avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble. See the guidance on car sharing.

If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance.

If you break the rules 
The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).

You can be given a fixed penalty notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

14th December 2020

The Impact of COVID-19 on Work Related Stress and Mental Health

The changes and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and the associated local and national restrictions have greatly increased the risks of work-related stress and mental health.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have now developed two short surveys – one for workers and one for the employer or the people that represent the business or organisation. The surveys aim to improve their understanding of the impact across all work sectors. 

The worker’s survey is open to any worker, whether you think COVID-19 has or has not, had an impact on you or your job role. 

The employer’s survey is targeted at decision makers within the organisation – owners, board members, directors etc, and those involved in the organisational response to health and safety and the pandemic. 

Worker’s Survey 

Employer’s Survey 

The HSE will also be doing some further research into how employers are assessing the risks from work-related stress, what interventions are being used to tackle identified risks and the effectiveness of those interventions. This may be done either by a targeted survey or by telephone surveys. 

To read the full article and get involved you can click here. 

28th November 2020

PM sets out new COVID winter plan

Speaking via video link to the House of Commons on the 23rd November, the Prime Minister confirmed that gyms, shops, hairdressers and places of worship will be able to reopen in England. 

The country will once again be divided into three tiers, with different rules on social distancing and hospitality venues depending on the local prevalence of the virus. 

Larger proportions of England are expected to be placed in the tougher tiers, two and three, as the crucial reproduction rate – known as the R – remains above one across the country, meaning the virus continues to grow. 

Under the new regional system, due to come into effect at a minute past midnight on 2nd December, if approved by MPs in a vote at the start of next week, the “rule of six” limit on the maximum size of social contacts will be reintroduced indoors and outdoors in tier 1 areas. Indoor mixing of households and support bubbles will be banned in tier 2 and tier 3, mingling of households will only be allowed in parks and other outdoor public spaces.

Tier one pubs and restaurants will be table-service only, while hospitality venues in tier 2 will only be allowed to open if they are serving substantial meals, while in tier three it will be takeaways and deliveries only. 

A new curfew for pubs and restaurants will allow last orders at 10pm, with closing time at 11p, in a bid to avoid the scenes of crowds in the streets seen under earlier arrangements. 

On the 2nd December, across all of England, regardless of tier: 

  • The stay at home requirement will end, with travel being permitted again subject to guidance in each tier. 
  • Shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector will reopen. 
  • Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume. 
  • People will no longer be limited to seeing only one other person in outdoor public spaces – the rule of 6 will now apply outdoors as it did in the previous set of tiers.

Up to 4,000 spectators will be permitted in outdoor sport in tier one and 2,000 in tier two, up to a maximum of 50 percent of venue capacity, but audiences will continue to be banned in tier 3.

To read more you can visit the government website.

11th November 2020

COVID-19: Updated reporting guidance for employers

As the UK begins to adapt to another blanket lockdown, it is timely to look at the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) further guidance for employers struggling to determine whether confirmed COVID-19 cases within the workforce are reportable under RIDDOR. 

Who must make the report?

RIDDOR requires “Responsible Persons” to report certain matters to the HSE. Typically employers, the self-employed and others in charge of a workplace will fall into this definition depending on the circumstances. 

What must be reported? 

The HSE has identified three COVID-19 specific circumstances in which a Responsible Person should make a report: 

  • An accident or incident at work has, or could have, led to the release or escape of coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence. 
  • A worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19 attributed to an occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a case if disease. 
  • A worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a work-related death due to exposure to a biological agent. 

RIDDOR typically requires diagnosis by a medical practitioner. However, given that most COVID cases are diagnosed following a laboratory test, the HSE is taking what it calls a “pragmatic approach in these highly unusual circumstances”. Responsible Persons are therefore on notice to treat any “official confirmation” of infection as being equivalent to the diagnosis of a registered medical practitioner. 

How does an employer determine when a report must be made?

The new detail added by the HSE has helpfully (and finally) given some clarity. The need to report a dangerous occurrence is, on the whole, restricted to those organisations working directly with the virus itself, either because they are handling it in a laboratory setting or because they are dealing with samples from patients. 

However, most difficulty for employers appears to have arisen in determining when a case of occupational exposure to the virus has happened. We now know that when deciding whether to report this as a case of disease: 

  • A report is only required where it is more likely than not that the work was the source of exposure (rather than general societal exposure); 
  • There must be reasonable evidence linking the person’s work with an increased risk of becoming exposed to the virus, for example:
  • Did the work being done increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19?
  • Was there a specific incident that increased the risk of exposure?
  • Did the work bring the person directly into contact with a known COVID-19 hazard without effective control measures in place (such as social distancing, PPE, etc)?
  • Has a medical professional highlighted the significance of work-related factors when communicating a diagnosis? This seems unlikely given diagnosis is largely by laboratory test.  

The judgement is to be made on available information; there is no need for a detailed investigation. 

Interestingly, the HSE has determined that work with the general public, as opposed to work with persons known to be infected, is not considered sufficient evidence to indicated the a COVID-19 diagnosis is likely to be attributable to occupational exposure and such cases do not require a report. 

What does this mean in practice?

Determining that work is more likely than not to have been the source of infection is more straightforward for some employers than others. Those running laboratories seeking a vaccine or operating residential care homes may find this an easier process than a business in retail, manufacturing or construction for example. This is particularly so in times when the prevalence of the virus within the community is higher as it is now. 

The guidance is clear that the employer does not have to conduct extensive enquiries to reach a conclusion as to whether an infection is work related. The HSE is openly stating that the decision can be reached on available information and warns against precautionary reports where there is no evidence that work is the likely source. 

In reality, employers will need to consider each positive report and reach decisions based on the circumstances as they are known. This will vary workplace by workplace and local individual factors may also be relevant, for example infection rate locally, means of travel, etc. 

Where there are multiple cases in a workplace, clearly it is important to determine whether they are related and therefore whether the COVID risk assessment and resulting control measures need to be revisited in response. 

How is the HSE responding? 

The HSE is receiving hundreds of COVID – related RIDDOR reports each week, albeit numbers are around half that seen during the April peak of the pandemic (1183 reports per week at the peak compared with the 530 reports in the week to 17 October). 

It is perhaps telling that almost three quarters of reports have been from the health and social work sector, However, following the re-opening of large parts of the economy in the summer and thr return of education in September, other sectors have begun to contribute to the total too. 

The HSE notes that “all cases that are reported…are being assessed and investigations initiated where incidents meet published Incident Selection Criteria”. While the regulator’s ability to respond substantively has to be in question given the sustained budget cuts it has suffered in the past decade, the threat of enforcement is there and should be heeded when positive cases are identified. 

To read the full article you can click here

3rd November 2020

DVSA Services in England 

From Thursday 5th November, the Government is introducing a new national lockdown in England to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. 

Vehicle testing

The new national restrictions do not affect our heavy vehicle testing service and ATFs can remain open. The DVSA can continue to provide the vehicle standards assessors needed to test heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and public service vehicles (PSVs) safely. 

You should only book your vehicle or trailer in for its test close to its MOT due date. This will make sure vehicles and trailers which legally need a test can get one. 

You should continue to manage the regular maintenance and inspection schedule for your vehicles and trailers. This is a legal requirement under your operator’s licence. 

Vocational Theory Tests

Vocational theory tests will be affected during the national restrictions in England. 

All theory tests will be suspended from Thursday 5th November and will restart on Wednesday 2nd December 2020. 

The DVSA are in the process of emailing everyone who has booked a test in England to them know their test has been put on hold and they will need to reschedule it. 

To reschedule your test you can click here.

30th October 2020

Government Guidance regarding working in office spaces

  • Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment and share this with all employees. 
  • Clean more often. Increase how often you clean your surfaces, especially those that are classified as common touch points. Ask your employees and any visitors to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently. 
  • Ask your visitors to wear face coverings where required to do so by law. That is especially important if your visitors are likely to be around people they do not normally meet. Some exemptions do apply. 
  • Make sure everyone is social distancing. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or introducing a one way system where possible for employees and visitors. 
  • Increase ventilation by keeping windows and doors open where possible. Fire doors may remain closed. 
  • Take part in the NHS tract and trace by keeping a record of all employees, contractors and visitors for 21 days. This is enforced by law. 
  • Turn people with Coronavirus symptoms away. If an employee (or someone in their household) or a visitor has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating. 

If you would like some further information you can click here. 

1st October 2020

Protecting vulnerable workers during the Coronavirus pandemic 

All employers have a legal duty to protect workers from harm.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced guidance on protecting vulnerable workers from Coronavirus (COVID-19).

You should make sure you consider the risk to workers who are particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and put controls in place to reduce that risk.

The HSE’s guidance explains what you should as an employer to protect vulnerable workers during the pandemic. It covers the following topics:

  • Supporting workers in higher-risk groups
  • Clinically extremely vulnerable workers
  • Supporting extremely vulnerable workers returning to work
  • Protections in local lockdown areas
  • Pregnant workers

There are also links to the latest information on shielding and protecting workers in England, Scotland and Wales.

Read the full advice and guidance on protecting vulnerable workers form COVID-19 here.

For further information and advice on the Coronavirus pandemic you can visit the HSE’s website.

24th September 2020

Government QR Codes 

We have been informed that certain businesses need a QR code for the new track and trace app which was launched today.

The government website states that you should create and display a QR code if you are:

  • A business, place of worship or community organisation with a physical location that is open to the public
  • An event which is taking place in a physical location

If you have more than one venue, you need to create a separate QR code for each location.

We feel if you have or could potentially have visitors to your premises you should have a QR code on display, I have put the link to generate your individual code below:

https://www.gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster

23rd September 2020

Spot checks and inspections to ensure workplaces are COVID-secure

8th September 2020

Tips to help you make your workplace COVID-secure 

With many employees now returning to the workplace for the first time in six months, we have put below some tips and advice on how to make your workplace COVID-secure.

Where it is possible you should keep people two meters apart. If this is not viable, keeping one meter apart with risk mitigation is acceptable.

These are the things you can do:

  • Use floor tape or paint to mark work areas
  • Provide signage to remind people to keep a 2 meters distance
  • Use screens to create a physical barrier between people
  • Have people working side-by-side rather than face-to-face
  • Limit movement of people
  • Limit rotation between jobs and equipment
  • Prevent the rotation of work vehicles
  • One way systems in high-traffic areas like corridors, turnstiles and walkways
  • Allow only essential visitors to the building.

For more information and guidance on working safely during the COVID-19 pandemic you can click here. 

2nd September 2020

Just a quick reminder…

With a number of people now returning to their work premises, the HSE has published guidance on how to keep your workplace safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here to read.

Remember the HSE are actively visiting work premises to ensure compliance with the safe working guidelines in protecting your employees and third parties.  Ensure you are up to date with the guidance and what is required of you.

1st September 2020

Face Coverings in Education

As many pupils and teachers are preparing to head back to schools for the first time in 7 months, the Department for Education have published new guidance.

All pupils, in all year groups, will return to education full-time from the beginning of the autumn term. This guidance is intended to support early years and childcare providers, schools, including alternative provision, and colleges with new advice on the use of face coverings.

The World Health Organisation published a statement on the 21st August about children and face coverings. They now advise that “children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least 1-meter distance from others and there is a widespread transmission in the area.”

Nationwide, the government is not recommending face coverings are necessary in education settings generally because a system of control, applicable to all education environments, provides additional mitigating measures. Schools and colleges will have the discretion to require face coverings in indoor communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed, if they believe that it is right in their particular circumstances.

To read the full guidance you can click here.

10th August 2020

Social distancing and making your workplace COVID-secure.

The Health and Safety Executive have recently published some documents giving you tops on how to maintain and encourage social distancing in the workplace. 

The documents cover: 

  • common areas (including break areas, bathrooms, toilets, meeting rooms and accommodation)
  • workstations 
  • arriving and leaving work 
  • movement around buildings and worksites 
  • where 2m social distancing is not possible 
  • using vehicles
  • emergencies, security and other incidents 

You can click here to read all the documents in full. 

4th August 2020

Did you know you have a legal requirement to wear a Face Covering in many different places and more places are being include from the 8th of August 2020?

What is the Legislation around Face Coverings?

A Face Covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020 were laid before parliament 23rd July 2020 and came into force on the 24th July 2020.

The Statutory Instruments 2020 No.791 states these new Regulations are made in response to the serious and imminent threat to public health which is caused by the spread of the respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in England.

Do I need to wear a Face Covering?

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020 Regulation 3(1) states;

No person may, without reasonable excuse, enter or remain within a relevant place without wearing a face covering.

Exclusions are as follows:

  • To a child who is under the age of 11
  • To a person responsible for a relevant place or an employee of that person acting in the course of their employment
  • To any other person providing services in the relevant place under arrangements made with the person responsible for a relevant place
  • To an employee of an operator of a public transport service acting in the course of their employment
  • To a person who enters or is within a transport hub in a vehicle (other than a vehicle being used for the provision of a public transport service)
  • To a constable or police community support officer acting in the course of their duty
  • To an emergency responder (other than a constable) acting in their capacity as an emergency responder
  • To a relevant official acting in the course of their employment or their duties.

Can I get fined for not wearing a Face Covering?

A person who contravenes the requirement of regulation 3 is committing an offence.

A persons who obstructs, without reasonable cause of reasonable excuse as directed under regulation 5(2) or regulation 5(5) is committing an offence.

If it can be proven that an offence was committed under this piece of Legislation, the authorised person may issue a fixed penalty notice of £100. The penalty notice is reduced to £50 if paid before the end of the fixed 14 day period.

Where do I need to wear a Face Covering before August 8th 2020?

In England, everyone must wear face coverings in the following settings:

  • Public transport
  • Indoor transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
  • Shops and supermarkets (places which are open to the public and that wholly or mainly offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • Indoor shopping centres
  • Banks, building societies, and post offices (including credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses)

You are expected to wear a Face Covering before entering any of the above settings and keep it on until you leave.

At this time Face Coverings are not required in a restaurant with table service, bars and pubs.

What happens on the 8th August 2020?

For members of the public, from the 8th of August 2020, the places where you will have to wear a Face Coverings will be extended to include:

  • Funeral directors
  • Premises providing professional, legal or financial services
  • Cinemas
  • Theatres
  • Bingo halls
  • Concert halls
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, or other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites
  • Nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers – other than where necessary to remove for treatments.
  • Massage parlours
  • Public areas in hotels and hostels
  • Place of worship
  • Libraries and public reading rooms
  • Community centres
  • Social clubs
  • Tattoo and piercing parlours
  • Indoor entertainment venues (amusement arcades, funfairs, adventure cities e.g. laser quest, go-karting, escape rooms, heritage sites)
  • Storage and distribution facilities
  • Veterinary services
  • Auction houses

It is also important to note that the government strongly encourage you to wear a Face Covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult.

Do the regulations expire?

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020 expire on the 24th July 2021, 12 months on from the date on which they came into force.

To read the full Legislation you can click here.

1st August 2020

Further updates made to the Working Safely guidance 

Following on from the governments latest announcements, there has now been further amendments made to the working safely guidance.

Sections 3.1 and 2.1 have been updated, which now state “from 1st August, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals can go to the workplace as long as it is COVID-secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible”.

This new advice covers all sectors included in the working safely guidance.

To read the guides in full you can click here.

27th July 2020

Workplace Guidance from 1st of August

Workplace guidance has now been updated to reflect the Prime Minister’s statement issued on the 17th July. The statement which highlighted that the governments advice on going to work will change from the 1st August.

From this date all employers should ensure that workplaces are safe, whilst also enabling working from home.

Employers should consult with their employees to establish who, from the 1st of August, can come into the workplace safely. The employer must take into consideration the individuals use of public transport, childcare responsibilities, protected characteristics, and any other individual circumstances. Extra measures and consideration should be given to those who are vulnerable or at a higher risk.

Once it has bee decided which workers will be travelling to their places of work, this will then need to be reflected in the COVID-19 risk assessment and any actions to be taken to manage the risks of transmission. It is important that employers engage with all workers to ensure that they feel safe returning to work any employee concerns should be addressed before start date.

Returning to work safely is vital in keeping the virus under control. By following the COVID-19 secure guidelines transmission of the virus can be substantially reduced.

To read the full guidance you can click here. 

22nd July 2020

The best and worst face masks for COVID-19, ranked by their level of protection. 

The science is clear: Face masks can prevent Coronavirus transmission and save lives. 

A preliminary analysis of 194 countries found that places where masks were not recommended saw a 55 percent weekly increase in Coronavirus deaths per capita after their first case was reported, compared with 7 percent in countries with cultures or guidelines supporting mask-wearing. 

Not all masks confer equal levels of protection. The ideal face mask blocks large respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes – the primary method by which people pass the Coronavirus to others – along with smaller airborne particles, called aerosols, produced when people talk or inhale. See below the list of masks, rated best to least effective. 

  1. Medical grade masks, N99 and N95 are the most effective at filtering viral particles. In order for these masks to work effectively, they must be seal tightly around the nose and the mouth so that very few viral particles can seep in or out the mask. However it is recommended that these masks are reserved for healthcare workers. 
  2. Disposable surgical masks are in at a close second. Surgical masks are made of non woven fabric, so they are usually the safest option to people who cannot access an N99 or N95 masks. A recent study has found that surgical masks reduced the transmission of multiple human Corona-viruses through both respiratory droplets and smaller aerosols. In general, surgical masks are about three times as effective at blocking virus-containing aerosols than homemade face masks. But it is important that healthcare workers have access to these masks first. 
  3. Hybrid masks are the safest homemade option. A hybrid masks combines two layers of 600 thread count cotton with another material like silk, chiffon, or flannel. A study has found that the combination of cotton and chiffon offered the most protection, followed by cotton and flannel, cotton and silk.Research has suggested that these options may even be better at filtering small particles than an N95 mask, though they were not necessarily better at filtering larger particles. 
  4. Three layers of cotton or silk are also highly protective. WHO recommends that fabric masks have three layers: an inner layer than absorbs, a middle layer that filters, and an outer layer made from a nonabsorbent material like polyester. 
  5. Vacuum cleaner bags are a DIY alternative to surgical masks. A study has shown that vacuum cleaner bags (or vacuum cleaner filters inserted in a cloth mask) reduced infection risk by 83 percent after 30 seconds of exposure to the Coronavirus and by 58 percent after 20 minutes of exposure in a high contaminated environment. 
  6. Tea towels and antimicrobial pillowcases aren’t ideal materials, but they are better than a single layer of cotton. Tea towels and antimicrobial pillow cases were the next best alternatives to the above. Tea towels need to be tightly woven to confer protection. 
  7. Wrapping a scarf or cotton T-shirt around your nose and mouth is not particularly effective at filtering the Coronavirus, but it is still better than nothing. The UK researchers found that a single layer of 80 thread count cotton was amount the least effective materials at blocking Coronavirus particles both large and small. Scarves and T-shirts reduced infection by about 44 percent after 30 seconds of exposure however after 20 minutes of exposure in a highly contaminated environment, that risk reduction dropped to just 24 percent. 

How you wear a mask matters too

The protectiveness of a mask, including N95 and surgical masks, declines considerably when there is a gap between the mask and the skin. It is important to check the seal of the mask and to make sure there is no air leak. 

To read more you can click here. 

 

20th July 2020

HSE hits northern hot spot for COVID compliance spot checks 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is targeting Yorkshire for COVID compliance spot-checks after a spate of outbreaks.

The regulator said it is checking that businesses are aware of the Safer Workplace guidance and advising where necessary on improvements needed to ensure the workplace is COVID secure.

Inspectors are out and about visiting businesses across the UK, but particularly the city of Bradford and surrounding areas, putting employers on the spot and checking they are complying with the latest guidance.

The spot checks are being carried out by a mixture of phone checks and site visits. The phone checks include obtaining visual evidence such as photos and video footage.

To find out more click here.

14th July 2020

Face Coverings to be compulsory in England’s shops

Wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England will become mandatory from 24th July. Those who fail to comply with the new rules will face penalty fines.

Children under the age of 11 and those with disabilities will be exempt from the new rules.

Further guidance and information is set to be published by the government at a later date.

13th July 2020

COVID-19 Risk Assessment: Better late than never

Last week saw the publication of a comprehensive guide to what should be included within the COVID-19 risk assessments the government has been implouring businesses to prepare since early May.  Containing consistent themes for our new world of work, here are the top 10 that struck us upon reading:

1. Hand Washing

We began this crisis light-heartedly washing our hands while singing a double rendition of “happy birthday”. But as the virus continues to hit hard, we find hand hygiene remains front and centre. The science tells us adequate hand washing is effective but also simple, logical and cheap.

2. Worker Engagement

While there have long been legal requirements to consult with employees, COVID-19 as a risk has grabbed the attention like few other hazards. The risk assessment reinforces the importance of worker input: “make sure you talk to your workers and their representatives to explain the measures you are taking. They can also provide valuable information on how you could control the risks”.

3. Social Distancing

Social distancing is becoming an increasingly elastic concept; sometimes two metres, sometimes “one metre plus” and differing throughout the UK. The new document reminds employers that local rules may differ which highlights the importance of nationwide organisation remaining abreast of local updates and being agile and responsive to changes at short notice.

4. Remote Working

Nearly all jobs have changed in some way since the Spring. Many of our new working practices are no doubt here to stay. There is a hint of this in the new document, which encourages the increased use of online meeting facilities, even when people are working in the same building.

5. Ventilation

Good ventilation is another basic control measure to reduce the risk. This is reflected in the risk assessment, which suggest propping open non-fire doors to improve air circulation, ushering in another important point: COVID-19 control measures should not adversely impact pre-existing safety regimes.

6. Mental Wellbeing

The document takes a huge step forward in identifying the detrimental impact of the pandemic on our collective mental health and wellbeing. While the focus is on planning for those coming back into workplaces, huge numbers are still working from home and the importance of contact, time management and fatigue are among the hazards highlighted.

7. Back Pain

Thinking about your new remote workers, the assessment also highlights the musculoskeletal disorders risked by lengthy DSE use at home. The HSE maintains that “there is no increased risk for people working at home temporarily”.

8. Shielding Workers

Employers must identify those within the workforce who are vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable. The suggested control measures include an individual assessment of these employees and a discussion to identify what is needed to each case.

9. Travelling

On occasions when social distancing may be difficult, employers’ control measures are said to include the provision of facilities to keep people from public transport and creating working cohorts of those who already travel to work together.

10. Face Coverings

Face coverings are “not required to be worn in the workplace” but “where people choose to wear them you should support them”. The government guidance for those in close contact sectors such as hairdressing now requires the wearing of visors to “provide a barrier between the wearer and the client from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking”. Face covering are now also mandatory on public transport.

To read the full article you can click here.

8th July 2020

Protecting your vulnerable workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

As an employer, you have a legal duty to protect workers from harm. You should make sure you consider the risk to workers who are particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus and put controls in place to reduce that risk.

Following the outbreak, the government has defined some people as clinically extremely vulnerable (shielded) shielded workers are at increased risk of severe illness from Coronavirus. In England they are unable to return to workplaces before at least the 1st August 2020.

Supporting your shielded workers returning to work

You should talk to shielded workers about their working arrangements and take every possible step to enable your workers to work from home, where possible. Where it is not possible for workers to work from home, you must regularly review your risk assessment, and do everything reasonably practicable to protect these workers from harm. This also applies to workers living with someone in the shielded group.

Pregnant workers

During the outbreak, pregnant workers have been advised to follow stringent social distancing to reduce the risk of severe illness from Coronavirus.

There is a long-standing requirement for employers to put in place measures to ensure workplace safety where a significant health and safety risk is identified for a new expectant mother.

Some pregnant workers will be at greater risk of severe illness from Coronavirus and they should have received a shielding letter from the NHS advising them:

  • To stay at home where possible
  • That they are not expected to be in a workplace

Employers will need to take this into account in their risk assessment.

If you cannot put the necessary control measures in place, such as adjustments to the job or working from home, you should suspend the pregnant worker on paid leave.

To read more on vulnerable workers you can click here.

6th July 2020

Updates to the Working Safely during Coronavirus guidance 

Friday 3rd July the government published further additions to all working safely guidance. The guidance is aimed at helping organisations and companies return to work in the safest way possible. See below the full list of new updates which relates to all guidance:

Section 1 – Guidance for local lockdowns

Section 1.1 – Discouraging shouting and raised voices

Section 2.1 – Opening customer restaurants and cafes

Section 7.1  – Keeping records of staff shift patters and visitors

Section 7.1 – What to do in the event of  COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace.

To read all updates in full you can click here.

If you need any assistance with any COVID documentation or advice on re-opening your business please do not hesitate to contact us on 01522 527 544 alternatively you can email us on info@4be3c55ea0fc91af1e5da8fab-18570.sites.k-hosting.co.uk.

2nd July 2020

Manufacturing: Return to work safely during the Coronavirus outbreak

The HSE has now published guidance for employers and businesses in manufacturing sectors. The guidance will aim to help you understand and manage any additional risks caused by the Coronavirus outbreak and explain how to continue or restart operations safely.

The guidance states you will need to assess the risks to people from Coronavirus and assess any protentional risks from machinery, equipment and buildings that have not been used for long periods of time.

To download your copy of the guidance click here.

29th June 2020

We Made it into The Lincolnshire Life Magazine 

This month we are excited to announce that we have featured in the Lincolnshire Life Magazine as part of their “getting back to business” campaign.

The whole team has been working hard to ensure our clients are safe during the current pandemic. 

You can read our article below.

24th June 2020

Updates to the Working Safely During Coronavirus Guidance 

The Government have updated their working safely guidelines to reflect the change to the 2 meter social distancing rule as well as guidance on support bubbles.

There has also been the addition of a hotels and other guest accommodation guide as this sector is due to return to work on the 4th July, if necessary measures are in place.

Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services guidance has also been reviewed and expanded from takeaways to venues providing service at the venue ahead of planned opening, reflecting  guidance on support bubbles, social distancing, test and trace and feedback from industry.  

There has also been a further 2 additional guides added by the government, close contact services & the visitor economy. Close contact services guide offers new guidance for keeping workers and clients safe in close contact services including hairdressing, barbershops, beauty and nail bars, makeup, tattoo and spray tanning studios, spas, sports and massage therapy, well-being and holistic locations, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers.

To see all the latest government updates and to read the working safely guidance click here.

23rd June 2020

Lockdown relaxed in England as 2m rule to be eased. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that people should remain 2 meters apart where possible but a “one meter plus” rule will be introduced from the 4th July.

Mr Johnson continued to encourage people to use “mitigation” – such as face coverings and not sitting face-to-face when within 2 meters of each other and “where possible to keep 2 meters apart, people should”.

The relaxing of the 2 meter rule allows pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers to reopen if they put in safety measures. It has also been announced that two households will be able to meet indoors and stay overnight, with social distancing.

However nightclubs, spas, indoor soft play areas, bowling alleys, water parks, indoor gyms, nail bars, swimming pools and water parks will not be able to reopen at this stage.

To read more click here. 

22nd June 2020

Temporary working at home, work station set up

17th June 2020

Stay alert, you can wear a scarf as a face covering 

Wearing a face covering

A cloth face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breath comfortably. It can be as simple as a scarf or a bandanna that ties behind the head.

Hands are to be washed or hand sanitiser used before putting it on and after taking it off. Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth at all times.

Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.

For more information or to find out how to make your very own face covering click here. 

 

15th June 2020

Back behind the wheel: COVID’s indirect toll on road deaths

As the lockdown continues to ease and many of us not having driven significantly for a number of weeks, organisations should consider how the driving risks that their employees may have changed as a result of the pandemic.

Due to the government currently advising people to avoid public transport people who would typically use trains, tubes and buses to travel may now begin driving for all or parts of their journey. The increased road use could result in higher levels of congestion and air pollution, and the potential rise in road accidents and fatalities.

Read more. 

 

12th June 2020

HSE safety alert issued: Use of face masks designated KN95

The HSE has issued a safety alert about the poor quality of face masks claiming to be KN95.

A substantial number of face masks, claiming to be of a KN95 standard, provide inadequate level of protection and are likely to be poor quality products accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork. These masks may also be known as filtering face piece respirators. 

Action required 

KN95 MUST NOT be used as PPE at work as their effectiveness cannot be assured. 

Masks that are not CE marked cannot be shown to be compliant must be removed from supply immediately. If these masks have not been through the necessary safety assessments, their effectiveness in controlling risks to health cannot be assured for anyone buying or using them. They are unlikely to provide the protection expected or required. 

If any are CE marked, suppliers must be able to demonstrate how they know the documentation and CE marking is genuine, supported by Notified Body documentation showing compliance with the essential health and safety requirements by the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (EU) 2016/425.

Read more. 

 

11th June 2020

Cleaning, hygiene and hand sanitiser 

Use signs and posters to help your workers to practice good hand washing technique and to remind them to cough/sneeze into an arm and avoid touching their faces. 

Hand washing

  • Provide hand washing facilities with running water, soap and paper towels
  • Provide hand sanitiser at locations in addition to washrooms 
  • Provide hand sanitiser nearby for people getting in and out of vehicles or handling deliveries, if they are unable to wash their hands

Make sure that surfaces remain clean. This may mean increasing the level and frequency of cleaning as well as cleaning surfaces that you may not ordinarily clean.

Clean equipment frequently 

  • Set clear guidance for the use and cleaning of toilets, showers and changing facilities to make sure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible. 
  • Clean work areas and equipment between uses 
  • Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly
  • If equipment like tools or vehicles are shared then clean them after each use.

Read more

 

9th June 2020

First aid during the Coronavirus outbreak

The Health and Safety Executive have released guidance on how to issue first aid in a workplace setting during the current pandemic. This guidance will help employers ensure first aiders are confident that they can help someone injured or ill at work.

Guidance for first aiders

As a first aider you should first try to assist at a safe distance from the casualty as much as you can and minimise the time you share the same breathing zone. If the casualty is capable, tell them to do things for you, but treating them properly should be your first concern.

First aid cover and qualifications during the outbreak

If first aid cover for your business is reduced because of Coronavirus or you can’t get the first aid training you need, there are some things you can do so you still comply with the law.

You should begin by reviewing your first aid needs assessments and decide if you can still provide the cover needed for the workers that are present and the activities that they are doing.

  • Keep enough first aid cover – If fewer people are coming into your workplace it may still be safe to operate with reduced first aid cover. You could also stop high-risk activities.
  • Share first aid cover with another business –  if it is suitable you could share the first aiders of another business, but be sure that they have the knowledge, experience and availability to cover the first aid needs of your business as well as theirs.
  • First aid certificate extensions – If you hold a first aid certificate that expires on or after 16th March 2020 and cannot access re-qualification training because of Coronavirus, you may qualify for an extension.

Read more. 

 

8th June 2020

Using PPE at work during the Coronavirus pandemic

Health and safety law says that employers must protect workers from injury or harm to health which could happen as a result of work-related activity. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from Coronavirus.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, HSE has worked with others to develop guidance about current issues with PPE (personal protective equipment). 

HSE also has specific advice to help employers and workers in the health and social care sector and the non-healthcare sector. 

To read the full guidance you can click here. 

 

5th June 2020

Legionella risks during the Coronavirus outbreak

Employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords, have a duty to protect people by identifying and controlling risks associated with legionella.

If your building was closed or has reduced occupancy during the pandemic, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing risks of legionnaires’ disease. 

You should review your risk assessment and manage the legionella risks when you: 

  • Reinstate a water system or start using it again
  • restart some types of air conditioning units. 

To find out more click here. 

 

4th June 2020

Driver access to toilet and washing facilities during COVID-19

Businesses which make or recieve deliveries, must ensure that drivers have easy and safe access to toilets and hand washing facilities to support their health whilst carrying out their work during the current pandemic. 

Read more. 

 

3rd June 2020

Updates in all government guidance for working safely during COVID-19

The government have now made amendments to their guidance for working safely during the Coronavirus. The changes have been made in sections 2.2; people who need to self isolate.

The section now states three steps the must be followed:

  • Enabling workers to work from home while self-isolating, if appropriate.
  • Follow current guidance for employees any employers relating to statutory sick pay due to COVID-19.
  • Follow current guidance for people who have symptoms and those who live with others who have symptoms.

To read the full guidance click here. 

 

28th May 2020

The latest guidance for shops and branches 

The Health and Safety Executive have now released updated guidance for shops and branches. This document is aimed to help the employers, employees and the self-employed work in the safest way possible during the Coronavirus. This includes keeping as many people as possible two meters apart from those who they do not live with.

The guide aims to give you freedom within a practical framework to think about what you need to do to continue, or restart operations during the current pandemic. We understand that many businesses in this sector are currently closed for their usual service. By providing you with these resources it will allow you to ensure employee and public safety upon your return to work.

To download your copy of the guide click here. 

 

26th May 2020

Working safely during the Coronavirus outbreak

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have began posting a collection of resources for employers to access online. The guides are offering assistance on how they can re-introduce the workforce back onto business premises safely. They currently offer guides covering the following:

  • Who should go to work
  • Protecting people who are at higher risk
  • Getting into and leaving work
  • Work area
  • Moving around at work
  • Common areas
  • Good hygiene

It is extremely important that before carrying out any works, risk assessments must be completed as normal, taking into consideration all of the above.

To download your guides click here. 

 

20th May 2020

New guidelines for working safely during COVID-19

The Health and Safety Executive have now released new guidance to help employers,m employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The guidelines do only apply in England. Further information on Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please visit the HSE website.

They have now published 8 guides which cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses do operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. If this is the case for your company, you may need to refer to more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep yourself, others and your business safe. The HSE will continue to publish further guidance as more businesses are able to reopen.

It is important to note you MUST NOT reopen your business if it is closed under current government rules.

To view all the latest guides click here. 

 

19th May 2020

Talking with your workers about preventing Coronavirus 

Many companies are now beginning to return to work, with this in mind, the Health and Safety Executive have now produced new handouts to help employees and company owners return to work safely, in line with the government guidelines.

The handouts currently cover the following:

  • Social distancing
  • Organising your workplace
  • Cleaning and sanitising
  • Information and guidance
  • Well-being and support
  • Other helpful resources

The guides are designed to help you to consult with your workers on what measures you need to put in place to manage the risk of Coronavirus in the workplace. It is important to continue and encourage communication between yourself and your employees, by talking to workers you can:

  • Explain the changes you are making
  • Get their thoughts and ideas about how to change the workplace to keep people safe and to ensure those changes are workable;
  • Continue to operate your business safely during the outbreak.

To download your own version of the guide click here. 

 

12th May 2020

The protective poster pack

Employers have a duty to provide employees with the correct equipment to help them work safely. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have unveiled a new graphic poster kit which can be displayed at locations where masks should be used. The poster can be used as a reminder to employees to wear their masks and as a guide on how to wear them effectively. The topics covered are:

  • recommended pre-use checks
  • 7 diagrams on how to put a filtering face mask on
  • How to check that the face mask fits

To find out more click here. 

 

30th April 2020

Coronavirus: Getting Tested

One of the most difficult things about COVID-19 is the uncertainty, not knowing who has the infection or if it is safe to return to normal life. Good quality testing will provide us with greater certainty and will play a key role in how we are going to defeat this disease.

As part of the governments new 5 pillar strategy for COVID testing, people who have symptoms are now being tested to confirm if they are carrying the virus.

Who can be tested?

The priority is testing patients to inform them of their clinical diagnosis, however tests are now being offered to the following groups of people:

  • All essential workers including NHS and social care workers with symptoms
  • Anyone over the age of 65 with symptoms
  • Anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home (for example construction workers)
  • Anyone who has symptoms and lives with any of the identified above.
  • Social care workers and residents in care homes (with or without symptoms)
  • NHS workers and patients with or without symptoms.

Testing is most effective within three days of symptoms developing. For further information and to apply for a Coronavirus test click here.

 

23rd April 2020

RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19

With some organisations remaining open and operating throughout the pandemic, it is important for employers to understand their responsibilities when it comes to reporting cases of COVID-19 within their workforce.

You must only make a report under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulation 2013) when:

  • An unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to Coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
  • A worker has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
  • A worker dies as a result of the occupation exposure to Coronavirus.

What to report

Dangerous Occurrences

If something happens at work which results in (or could result in) the release or escape of Coronavirus you must report this as a dangerous occurrence. An example of a dangerous occurrence would be a lab worker accidentally smashing a glass vial containing Coronavirus, leading to people being exposed.

Cases if disease: exposure to biological agent

If there is reasonable evidence that someone diagnosed with COVID-19 was likely exposed because of their work, you must report this as an exposure to biological agent using the case of disease report. An example of a work-related exposure to Coronavirus would be a health care professional who is diagnosed with COVID-19 after treating patients with COVID-19.

Work related fatalities

If a worker dies as a result of exposure to Coronavirus from their work and this is confirmed as the likely cause of death by a registered medical practitioner, then you must report this as a death due to exposure to a biological agent using the “case of disease” report form. You must report workplace fatalities to the HSE by the quickest practicable means without delay and send a report of that fatalty within 10 days of the incident.

Read more.

 

21st April 2020

Fit testing face masks to avoid transmission during the Coronavirus outbreak. 

Tight-fitting respirators rely on having a good seal with the wearer’s face. A face fit test should be carried out to ensure the respiratory protective equipment can protect the wearer.

It is important that you put on a tight-fitting respiratory protective equipment correctly. This can be done by using a mirror or asking a colleague to assess from a distance. The fit-testers should follow the government advice on social distancing, they can make observations from this distance and deliver any instructions verbally. The user should always carry out pre-use checks.

 

Please see guidance video below.

19th April 2020

Number of recorded deaths rise by 596 to 16,060

The number of recorded deaths has today risen by 596 to 16,060. Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, says the lower number of deaths was “very goof news”, but cautions against drawing conclusions from the figures.

 

6th April 2020

Home workers – What you need to know

With many of us working from home or having home working employees for the first time, we have put together an article to help both the employers and the employees understand their responsibilities and duties during this time.

Whether the worker is full or part-time they are still ‘at work’ and whilst they are doing their job it is important that you take adequate steps to ensure their safety and well-being whilst undertaking the companies work tasks.

What needs to be in place in terms of workstation and display screen equipment when working from home?

For temporary home working there is no requirement for a workstation assessment. The employer does have a responsibility to provide all workers with the necessary equipment so they can work effectively and safely from home, for example screen risers, screens, a keyboard and a separate mouse. The choice of items such as desks and chairs are down to the employee.

How often should people take a break?

People should take a screen break for 5 minutes every hour. It is useful to schedule regular breaks into your workday; this will help you to stay productive and on task.  This could be as simple as making a drink but having a short break from the display screen is important.

Is there anything to think about in terms of lone working?

All temporary home workers should be treated the same as any office workers. Employers must ensure there is regular contact between employees and line managers. This contact can be via email, telephone call or streaming services. Making regular contact with employees can help productivity and ensure employees feel valued and included. It is highly recommended employers use this time to check in on the employee’s mental and physical well-being. It is a very different experience working from home if you are not used to it, so regular contact with employees is vitally important.

What about if someone has an accident whilst working from home?

Employers Duties

An employer is required to protect the health, safety and welfare of its employees so far as is reasonably practicable.  An employee working from home is owed the same duty of care as any other employee would have in an office or other normal working environment. The employer must first consider if the job and the employee are suitable for working from home.  The employer’s duty also extends to mental health as well as physical.  Remember regular contact of any form is very important and helps make the employee feel valued and supported.

Employees Duties

It is the employee’s duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety as well as that of others. This would include removing any hazards such as a trailing wire or taking any defective equipment out of use and reporting it to the employer. They must also report all employment related hazards to their employer to make them aware.

Working from home generally involves very low risk tasks.  If any accidents do occur while working at home and carrying out work activities, they should be reported to a member of management.  A decision can then be made if a record of the accident should be taken or in the event of a serious accident it is reported to the HSE under RIDDOR.  The employee should always contact management in the first instance and they

will seek advice from their in house health and safety professional or their external health and safety consultant/advisor.

Do employers have to ensure home working is included in part of risk assessment process?

The employer should carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of all work activities and take appropriate measures to reduce any associated risks.   An assessment needs to be undertaken for each employee place of work.  You only need to assess their designated work area, therefore is no need for you to worry about other areas of the home.

There can be a generic risk assessment issued to all employees, which highlights all hazards that need to be controlled to ensure the worker can work safely.  The employee can follow the control points in the risk assessment to ensure their area of work is suitable and safe. They must consult their line manager if they are unsure what is required so a specific risk assessment can be completed.

If the homeworker is a new or expectant mother, a separate specific risk assessment must be completed. The risk assessment must highlight all specific control measures and must take into account the risks to the child/unborn child.  This risk assessment must be updated at least every month.

A separate risk assessment must also be completed if the home worker is a young person under 18 years old. The risk assessment must highlight all specific control measures to reduce the risk to the young person.

The employer must consider the risks involved in the homeworkers work activities, this includes all electrical and tripping hazards.  They must check that the equipment they supply is in good working order without any visible defects that could cause a risk to the user.  The homeworker is also responsible for reporting any damaged work equipment supplied by management, this includes any broken electrical wires or equipment.  Many work items used at home will be very low risk, but it is preferable to have an up to date PAT test where possible.

Read more.

 

5th April 2020

The Queen broadcasts a message to the nation. 

Today the Queen has broadcast a message to the nation, saying the UK “will succeed” in its fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister is admitted to hospital with ongoing Coronavirus symptoms.

 

3rd April 2020

The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide passes the one million mark. 

The global total number of cases has doubled in one week.

Despite the frightening spread of the infectious disease cased by the new Coronavirus, the Office for National Statistics found that COVID-19 accounted for just 1% of the UK total deaths in the week ending March 2020.

 

28th March 2020

The death toll rises

The death toll from the new Coronavirus passes 1,000 in the United Kingdom. A 55 year old consultant, has become the first member of the NHS staff to die from COVID-19.

 

25th March 2020

Employers responsibilities to home/remote workers

Home working is something that has become the new normal to a lot of us. As an employer, you still have the same health and safety responsibilities for home/remote workers as you would for any other employee. When someone is working from home, permanently or temporarily, as an employer you should consider the following:

  • How will you keep in touch with them?
  • What work activity will they be doing? and for how long?
  • Can it be done safely?
  • Do you need to put control measures in place to protect them?

Read more.

 

23rd March 2020

Boris Johnson issues an order or an unprecedented national lockdown, telling the British people: “You must stay at home”. 

Describing this as a “moment of national emergency”, Johnson said people may only leave home to exercise once a day, to travel to and from work where “absolutely necessary”, to shop for essential items and to fulfil any medical or care needs. 

 

20th March 2020

Schools, nurseries, pubs and restaurants around the United Kingdom are ordered to close.

The Coronavirus spike is “increasing at a faster pace than anticipated”, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said. “I’ve said before that it the science and the advice changed, such that keeping schools open would no longer be in the interests of children and teachers, that we would act.

 

16th March 2020

COVID-19 The Latest Facts and Figures

At least 6,509 people have now died from Coronavirus. As many as 169,444 have now been infected globally. The virus which first began in Wuhan, China in early December was declared a pandemic on the 11th of March 2020 by The World Health Organisation.

The virus has now reached a total of 156 countries and territories. 50 of which have reported fatalities.

Read more.

 

Get in touch

Call: 01522 527 544​ or email: info@optimum-safety.co.uk