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WHSS are still here to help!

A beautiful scene.

With the lockdown announced, it’s important you know we are able to provide you with your normal support service. Our team has been working remotely for the past week and we can do 98% of what needs to be done from our homes.

The only thing we can’t do, of course, is come for a site visit, but we can talk your team through most site related issues.

If you need anything we are still here to help.

In light of recent news, if you are continuing to go to work remember the guidance on social distancing. Put notices on the entrance to your premises informing people you are complying with the government guidelines and leave a telephone number for them to make contact. If your premises are open and the public can enter, try using safety tape to block off areas, add a sign requesting they do not enter, consider supplying hand santiser or soaps for them to wash their hands if they do need access.

Training

Maybe take this time to complete some online training courses. Speak to Josh at IHASCO with the reference number WHSS.

For Online Training Click Here

What is social distancing?

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

They are to:
• Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
• Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible
• Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information
• Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
• Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
• Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
• Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is practicable.

We strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you:
• are over 70
• have an underlying health condition
• are pregnant

This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.

Handwashing and respiratory hygiene

There are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
• washing your hands more often – with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food
• avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
• avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
• cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
• clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home

Remember to look at the previous blogs for advice. They may be of benefit. Please feel free to forward our blogs onto your contacts, friends and family.

Remember to stay safe and be compliant!

Contact us – even if it just to say hello! 😊

Working from home – Coronavirus Guidance

The main thing to do is not to panic or cause a panic.

The Coronavirus outbreak is having a major impact on businesses and by all accounts, is set to be a major challenge for enterprise throughout the rest of the financial year. At present, there is no advice to ban large groupings or change working patterns however employees with even slight symptoms or a consistent cough should contact 111 for advice and discuss with their manager.

As a result of this it would be beneficial to companies to prepare the information technology and infrastructure needed to support multiple employees working from home. Many companies have already taken steps and instructed employees to work remotely where possible.

Avoid Staff Isolation

To avoid isolation and make sure you are considering the practicalities of remote working we recommend you consider your home working policy, how you will communicate with staff, how you maintain the sense of team and how employees can continue to maintain contact with their colleagues.

Some ideas are:
  • Daily team huddle: start each morning with a catch-up with your team, either by a conference call or video. Ensure the meetings have a set start and finish time, allow a different team member to host each time so everyone is involved.
  • Embrace video calling: this can replicate the in-person conversations you would normally have in the office and keeps the connections within your team.
  • Keep 121 and team meeting times: maintain a sense of structure and framework.
  • Stay focused: review your goals and KPIs as you usually would. It’s important to keep focus on day to day activities. Don’t forget about professional development topics and company values too. Encourage people to share any “need to know” or challenges so others can help where possible.
  • Virtual drop-in hours: you can set up a virtual office through video conferencing platforms which will allow people to drop in and out and have live conversations with you.  If video conferencing isn’t available, then ensure employees are aware of other methods of communication.
  • Schedule team time: remote workers need time to bond with their colleagues. To replace the chat, they would have in the office you can host a standing time each day or week for staff to blow off steam. Encourage them to text and chat about what’s happening throughout the day on a team feed and celebrate wins.
  • Dress the part: remind staff it is business as usual and that they should be ready to jump on any last-minute video calls.
  • Share Calendars: remind staff to keep managers/team up to date with their availability, even if it’s to step away to grab lunch.
  • Have a professional, clear working space: to be productive it’s best to have a clear, dedicated are to work. Take data protection and GDPR into and ensure data is stored and destroyed as per policy. Respect family needs and be mindful not to allow work to encroach on family time.
  • End of day ritual: The commute home offers a transition from a work to a home mindset. If already home, it’s helpful to have a specific activity to signal the end of the workday. This could be to go for a walk with the dog, play with the kids, or cook a meal.
  • Keep a work life balance: staff still need to take a break from their screens to recharge. When working remotely it can be easy to plough on, help staff to set boundaries between work and home.
  • Look after energy levels: it is a scientific fact that stress and tiredness suppress immune systems and make us more vulnerable to colds and viruses. So, in addition to physical common-sense strategies such as exercising, sleep and eating a balanced diet encourage your staff to remain calm and stay connected

Other Resources to check daily

It is a difficult situation which we are in. Following government guidelines will be beneficial as it changes daily.

The Government is providing updates on their website, view here.

The World Health Organisation has also published advice, view here.

Contact us if you require further information.

Improving Hygiene in the Workplace

Personal hygiene is important because it helps prevent and control diseases. This includes hygiene of all kinds, such as, facial, body and dental cleanliness.

It’s a difficult topic—personal hygiene. Whether an employee is refusing to wash their hands, or a persistent odorous habit, starting a conversation is tough. But it can be essential.

Sometimes these issues can just be off-putting. But other times, they’re a serious health & safety concern. So, to help avoid the awkwardness and reduce the risk of bacteria being spread around the office, we’ve put together a few top tips. Print off this blog and display it around the workplace.

Resources
The main resources on the helpline are:

The FCO for travel advice:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china

NHS Choices

https://www.nhs.uk/

WHO World Health Organisation

https://www.who.int/

Read past blogs regarding the virus.

Contact us if you require further information.

Coronavirus Advice for Employers

Image result for coronavirus uk

Infogram correct as of 2pm 5/3/2020

At the moment, the number of cases in the UK is minimal. But we’ve been warned to expect further cases. And with no sign of a vaccine just yet, it makes sense for employers to take precautions.

Coronavirus advice for employers

Employers across the country have questions in relation to the Coronavirus. Here are some of the more common ones, with answers helpfully provided:

Q: Should I be sending employees home?

A: It depends on the circumstances. There’s no need to fly into a blind panic and send everyone home just yet. But, if a member of staff has returned from one of the affected areas, you can reasonably ask them to stay at home. Particularly if they’re displaying symptoms.

There are certain regions you need to be concerned about:

Hubei province in China:
Any employee returning from this region should automatically self-isolate, even if they’re not showing symptoms. So, if you know an employee has been here and they turn up to work—send them home.

Iran, lockdown areas in northern Italy, or special care zones in South Korea:
Employees should automatically self-isolate if they’ve returned from these areas after 19th Feb. Same advice as above.

Other parts of mainland China or South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, or Thailand:
If an employee has been in one of these regions and returned since 19th February, they should be fine to come into work. Provided they aren’t showing symptoms. If they do start to show them, even if they’re mild, you should send them home.

Other parts of northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, or Vietnam:
Same advice as above. They’re fine to come into work so long as they’re not displaying symptoms, but if they do, send them home.

Q: What do I do if someone refuses to come into work?

A: Some people are legitimately concerned about their health. If there’s a heightened risk of catching the virus in your workplace, some employees may refuse to come in. If they do you should listen to their concerns and offer reassurance.

You should consider offering a temporary flexible working arrangement, including homeworking if possible. Or, you could allow them to take some time off as holiday or unpaid leave.

Forcing an employee to come into work against their will is likely to get messy fast, so try to be as considerate and flexible as possible.

Q: Do I have to pay employees who are self-isolating?

A: The other issue that comes with self-isolating is pay. UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock has advised that employees who are told to self-isolate are entitled to sick leave but not necessarily sick pay. Acas has re-affirmed this, pointing out that there’s no legal obligation to pay.

However, Acas have also outlined that it’s good practice to pay employees if they’re self-isolating.

So what should you do? Generally, the consensus is to pay employees if they’re self-isolating.

If you send an employee home despite them not showing symptoms, you’re not following government guidance. Therefore, you should pay the employee in full to avoid any potential risks. If the employee is self-isolating based on government guidance then it’s good practice to provide sick pay through usual procedures at least, if not full pay.

Q: Do I have to pay employees who have Coronavirus?

A: If an employee is legitimately sick with the virus, then they qualify for at least statutory sick pay (SSP). If their contract states that they are provided more, then they will receive that.

Q: What should I do if Coronavirus becomes more widespread?

A: Acas has also provided guidance for what you should do if the virus spreads more widely across the UK. You should:

  • Ensure staff details are up to date
  • Ensure emergency contact details are up to date
  • Refresh managers on policies & procedures, in particular those relating to sickness absense
  • Implement NHS advice on hygiene in the workplace, including hand-washing guidance and the provision of soap and water
  • Provide hand sanitisers and tissues to staff an encourage usage of them.
  • It’s also worth considering whether you might need to close your workplace. This includes considering whether home working is possible, and maintaining communication with staff.

Keep your eye on the news and keep up to date with the resources online.

Resources
The main resources on the helpline are:

The FCO for travel advice:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china

NHS Choices

https://www.nhs.uk/

WHO World Health Organisation

https://www.who.int/

Read past blogs regarding the virus.

What are the symptoms?

The infection starts with a fever, followed by a dry cough. After a week, it leads to shortness of breath and some people require hospital treatment. If you have any of these symptoms it does not mean that you have coronavirus. Most people (about 80%) who contract the disease recover without needing special treatment.

If you have any of the above symptoms, isolate yourself and dial 111, they will provide you with further instructions. Please then contact your manager.

Please be aware it may also be possible to become infected by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching your nose or mouth, so good hygiene practices can really help.

Handwashing

This is one of the most recommended and effective defences. Health professionals recommend humming ‘Happy Birthday’ as this is the suggested length of time for washing our hands!

Meeting and greeting!

Some of you may have already been to meetings, where people aren’t shaking hands and, purely as a precautionary measure, we’d recommend you do the same, if it feels appropriate and are comfortable to do so.  Clients and colleagues will understand if you give them a friendly wave instead!

Travel and holidays

Be aware if anyone is going on holiday to a high-risk country. Check the Government advice pages to make sure that the travel does not pose any health risk.

Contact us if you require further information.

Mental Health at Work: Quick Facts

Stressed man rubbing eyesStress is now recognised as a very serious health and safety issue, and one that all organisations must address if they are to comply with health and safety legislation. Employers must treat stress like any other health hazard.

This topic explains the benefits of taking proactive action and highlights the factors associated with stress that can be very costly to employers. It also considers how employers can risk assess for stress as well as looking at actions employers can take to address the causes of workplace stress.

  • Stress can cause absenteeism, high staff turnover, low morale, increased insurance premiums, reduced productivity, more frequent accidents and compensation claims.
  • The most common signs of stress include: being withdrawn, producing work of a lower standard than usual, increased sickness absence, alterations in working hours and being short-tempered or irritable.
  • Organisations should take a proactive approach to reducing stress levels, eg having a policy on stress and effective procedures, providing appropriate training and offering treatment and rehabilitation should it be required.
  • The HSE has identified six primary sources of stress at work: demands of the job, control, relationships, change, role, and support of the individual.
  • Employers can gather information about stress in their workplace by qualitative methods (eg talking to staff, focus groups) and quantitative methods (eg sickness absence data, staff turnover, questionnaires).
  • Managers should regularly review issues such as volume of work, working hours, job design, communications and provision of training, management style and the incidence of bullying or harassment in the workplace.

Contact Walker Health and Safety Services if you wish to discuss this subject.