Struggling to manage fast-changing COVID regulations?

Here’s our advice.

Operating in a pandemic is tough, particularly given how quickly the rules around COVID-safety change from week to week.

Businesses now have to operate within the regional tier system while maintaining social distancing and other measures to flatten the curve, as well as preparing for potential ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions.

Throw in leaked reports across the media about the next set of Government proposals and suddenly you can feel completely overwhelmed and unsure about exactly what your business should be doing.

Our advice to clients is straightforward – in a world this complicated, you need to keep it simple. We’re going to show you how to do that.

Appoint your dedicated COVID-19 officer

Achieving COVID compliance is a team effort, but we advise that you put one person in charge of keeping up with the latest regulations.

By appointing a COVID officer, you’ll have a person in place who is checking the regulations and requirements every day with credible sources and getting the facts.

They will take on the responsibility of checking COVID compliance across all your projects, keeping up to date with the very latest advice and ensuring your business is operating correctly.

Your COVID contact will also be able to keep potential upcoming changes on their radar and brief you as soon as they come into play.

Provide bite-sized advice for the whole team

You may have briefed your team on your COVID Secure plan, but as things move fast, you need to keep updating them.

We recommend that you put together a simple COVID-19 table that covers each part of your plan succinctly. It should be easy-to-follow and accessible for all staff, contractors and stakeholders, so they can check precisely what you are doing and what’s expected of them.

By keeping a quick-reference resource like this to hand, you can ensure that the control measures are implemented correctly.

Here’s an example of a table we created for a client working on photoshoots in their space. With different teams moving in and out of the space during the shoot, everybody needed to know exactly how to work within the COVID Secure plan we’d created for them.

COVID-19
Protect & Detect A self-assessment declaration will be carried out by all staff prior to leaving home for work

Staff which were previously in protected groups will be assigned the safest possible roles on-site. Personal circumstances will be discussed with each employee

Face Coverings All staff working on-site will be wearing a face covering.

Although staff are working outside in a well-ventilated area, due to their proximity to one another during certain work tasks, they will need to apply the 1m plus rule which requires

·       Mandatory face coverings

·       Side-to-side or back-to-back working (not face-to-face)

·       Work tasks planned to take the minimal amount of time

Face coverings will be enforced on-site

Hand Hygiene Hot handwashing is available on-site in the production area, with anti-bacterial soap and disposable hand towels.

Alcohol hand rub is located on-site at the production area and all staff will be issued with personal alcohol hand rub in small bottles.

There is a strict policy of sanitisation before smoking, eating, drinking or touching one’s face.

Signage will be displayed prominently to act as a reminder to all persons on-site

Equipment All equipment is coming from the warehouse and will be held in isolation for 72 hours before being delivered to site. This will be achieved by loading the van 72 hours prior to departure.
Contact Points BS EN 1276 wipes will be used to clean any items coming from other sources or within the 72-hour rule from the warehouse.
Working Bubbles To ensure the risk of cross-contamination amongst the crew is reduced, they will be working in bubbles of 2. So if one of the team is either tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19, the bubble will be isolated as opposed to the whole working team.
Sanitisation Number 8 sanitisation service occurring at 0900hrs on Monday ahead of site hand over.

 

As you can see, the table itself is clear and concise, and it acts as a useful summary of the more detailed COVID Secure plan we’d already put together for the client.

As things change, it’s a useful document to have as a reference as you update and enhance your infection control strategies.

It allows you to separate each risk and put in the correct measures to mitigate it, plus the people using this table won’t have to wade through more complicated paperwork to get a good grasp of what they need to do.

Unravelling advice and working with it

Needless to say, examining each process and making it as COVID safe as possible gets complicated when you start putting the whole plan together.

Reducing aerosol and fomite transmissions in one area could have an impact on another part of the project, or contravene the safety procedures you already have in place, particularly around employee welfare.

However, if you want to continue delivering inspiring and engaging projects, you have to wrap your head around it.

We’ve stepped in to support clients with complicated logistics, helping them untangle the amalgamation of legal requirements and risk assessments. Inevitably, some clients brush up against scenarios that aren’t covered in the guidance the Government has provided, and we’re there to help them navigate the project while operating in the spirit of the official advice.

In some circumstances, our advice has pre-empted Government regulations. For example, we worked with a client who had chefs and back of house staff working in a confined space and recommended they wore face masks during each shift three weeks before it became an official requirement. We identified that masks we’re imperative for the workers’ personal safety and to mitigate potential transmission from the kitchen area.

Remember, the rules are broad because they have to apply to businesses across numerous sectors and people working in vastly different ways. You need to take that general guidance and make it work for your business, ensuring you operate safely and successfully. Each company is unique and requires a bespoke solution.

Living in a pandemic is our new reality and each business must treat COVID-19 as another hazard in the workplace that needs to be controlled. So, assign your COVID officer to take in all the information available, put a COVID Secure plan in place that works for your business and how it operates and apply the hierarchy of hazard control (which we’ll explore in detail in our next blog).

You can continue to deliver excellence and keep the people using your space safe, it just requires careful thought and planning.