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Do your employees feel safe at your premises?

By Fireco

The impact of the virus on society

Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists from all over the world have been researching the symptoms, transmission and prevention methods to help us better understand the virus.

In the meantime, we have all been following the ‘Hands, Face, Space campaign promoted by the Government in order to help keep everyone safe. With the belief that the best way to reduce the spread of the virus is to keep your hands clean and sanitised, wear a face mask in public and maintain a safe distance between yourself and others.

This year, we have gained a much higher awareness of the things we touch, whether it’s a shopping trolley, money or a door handle. We have also learned to risk assess our everyday surroundings, and social distancing and wearing a mask has become a habit for many.

However, day-to-day life has and will continue to be impacted by the virus. Returning to work, mixing with crowds or even seeing friends can seem daunting for those who have spent most of the year isolating. This raises the question – are employers and other establishments doing enough to support their employees and customers?

Are employers doing enough to keep the work environment safe?

To help you make your business a safe environment for employees, The Governments Health & Safety Executive (HSE) devised a Coronavirus Risk Assessment which identifies potential safety problems arising due to the pandemic and how they can be overcome.

One point included is “Mental health and wellbeing affected through isolation or anxiety about coronavirus”. Being isolated from lockdown and social distancing can heighten feelings of anxiety about going back to ‘normal’. Walking into a building after a few weeks or months and seeing nothing has changed can be very daunting for employees.

Before the first national lockdown ended, a study carried out by CIPD on 1000 working adults revealed that 44% of them were anxious about returning to work due to the potential risk of catching the virus.

Since then, a study carried out by Slater and Gordon, employment law specialists, uncovered that 46% of key workers have whistle blown on their employers for unsafe practices during the pandemic. With concerns ranging from lack of PPE, no social distancing measures in place or people being forced to return to work even if they are classed as vulnerable.

With the news that local councils will have the power to close businesses if they are not COVID-secure, it is vital to ensure your employees feel safe at work. These powers include an order for immediate action to be taken, closures for up to a week and fines if no action is taken.

What measures can be put in place to make a COVID-secure environment?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Fireco has been helping many businesses stay safe, reduce cross-contamination and improve hygiene with our simple germ control solutions.

Our Germgard Smart Sanitising Station is a portable hygiene stand that encourages the use of hand sanitiser to all building users. It uses an infrared sensor and digital signage to capture the attention of the passer-by and ask them to sanitise their hands, which in turn will reduce cross-contamination on surfaces.

The digital signage is customisable and can be used as a building management tool, for example, you can advise staff to use your one-way system or to take their temperature when signing in.

The Germgard station is a portable device, so you can move it to the location that best suits your building, all it needs is a plug socket nearby.

Germgard helps you provide visual evidence that your company is taking adequate measures to keep your premises COVID-secure and will reassure your employees that they are safe in their work environment.

For more information about Germgard or other ways we can help with your COVID-secure strategy, visit our website www.fireco.uk or call us on 01273 320650.

 

GUEST BLOG: Insights on protective equipment & how it can impact your business

All businesses that employ staff will be familiar with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Last year, the PPE Directive 89/686/EEC was replaced by the Regulation 2016/425 in a bid to improve health and safety at work.

As many businesses operate within the UK and neighbouring countries in the EU, many managers will be wondering what this means for them. Opposed to the former directive, the new regulation is a binding legislative act that must be applied in its entirety across the EU without requiring separate national legislation.

There have been tremendous changes in regard to working practices, especially as technology continues to advance, making processes more efficient — this includes equipment and workwear. Because of this, changes were required and expected to occur around PPE after it first came into action over two decades ago.

Not too long ago, the PPE Directive was only a focus for manufactures who put their own products on the market. However, this new regulation that was put into action on 21stApril 2018 will involve the entire supply chain. As a result, anyone who is part of the supply or distribution chain must abide by PPE and meet the standard requirements that have been set out — while also having an understanding that only products that meet the standards will be made available on the market.

What are the standards?

  • Making sure PPE complies with the essential health and safety requirements.
  • Making sure technical documentation has be drawn up.
  • When compliance has been demonstrated the EU declaration of conformity has been drawn up and a CE mark affixed.
  • Retention of documents for ten years.
  • Sample testing.
  • Duty to take action in relation to non-conforming PPE.
  • Labelling requirements.
  • Providing instructions and cooperating with the national authority.

There is a one-year transition place currently in place, which is set to end on the 21stApril this year. This means that the former Directive and current Regulation are still applicable to businesses, meaning you must be prepared for when the Regulation is the only one that matters. However, any EC type-examination certificates and approvals issued under the Directive will remain valid until the 21stApril 2023 unless they have an earlier expiry date.

PPE Categories:

When it comes to workwear, and their determined use, here are the categories that businesses must understand:

Category I (simple design)

This is all about minimal risks, and workers can assess the level of protection needed themselves. This could include the use of garden gloves, footwear or ski goggles for example.

Category II (neither simple or complex)

Including workwear such as dry and wet suits, clothing in this category don’t fall within the first or third set of categories.

Category III (complex design)

Aimed to protect employees against mortal danger, these items are complex in design and prevent any irreversible harm. To give you an idea, this could potentially include harnesses and respiratory equipment.

Staff and their PPEP compliance

Businesses will look to implement the correct PPE workwear, but are staff willing to wear it? Figures have suggested that 98% of employees have seen colleagues not wearing PPE when they were supposed to, with a further 30% saying this happens on a regular basis. Excuses varied as to why employees were not wearing the appropriate workwear with some suggesting that it looked unattractive, made them too hot, was a poor fit and was not very practical which should most definitely not be the case for such corporate workwear.

But why is it so important? Did you know that 9% of all injuries are head injuries because 84% of such occurrences have not been wearing the proper headwear? Or that 50% of construction workers experience a serious injury during their career? If workers wore proper safety eyewear, injury could be reduced by up to 90%.

Astonishingly, 25% of workplace injuries were to do with a staff members hand. This could be reduced by 60% if gloves are worn. 25% of employees are exposed to noise that are higher than the recommended level too, but such damage can be reduced 99% by wearing the right type of hearing protection.

Learning from this, it’s important that employees learn more about PPE and why it has been put in place. However, businesses must also take away from this article that workers feel uncomfortable in the PPE workwear that has been distributed to them – you must strike a balance between safety requirements and comfort to ensure that staff wear such equipment when needed.

This article was provided by tailored uniform specialists, Dimensions.

Sources:

https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/mechanical-engineering/personal-protective-equipment_en

https://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/blog/Built-Environment-Blog/ppe-directive-changes/

http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/ppe.htm

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/390/made

https://legislationupdateservice.co.uk/news/new-personal-protective-equipment-regulation/

https://outlook.office.com/owa/?path=/mail/sentitems