Tuesday 17th November kicked off our monthly webinar series ‘Connect & Learn at Lunch’ hosted by our Director, Breda Colgan.
After 9 months of constant change, it’s starting to take it’s toll on people. Changes in adults, children – it’s been tough on everyone. Such a stressful time for most people!
Although some have thrived with the slower pace, the restrictions on all areas of life and work are challenging to say the least. It’s time to assess and recognise any minor stressors which may have come up over time.
Up for discussion first, was legislative compliances in level 5 – which we’re in for another 2 weeks (currently) – a very different experience to the original lockdown in March/April and has been confusing for a lot of businesses.
We also looked at raising compliance in the workplace, as there has been a significant spike in workplace COVID cases of late.
Followed by BREXIT
Outside of import/export, it’s not necessarily going to effect your business – Breda offers some clarification from a health & safety point of view
And finally, Workplace Wellness
It’s hard to keep on top of this at the moment with staff working from home and the rotation of staff in the workplace can be a challenge
So let’s get into it…
Legislative compliance with current restrictions
Within LEVEL 5 restrictions – we found last time that most businesses and services were closed. This time around it’s different. Construction is open, training is going ahead, more workplaces are still trading this time. This is difficult as businesses can’t apply the same strategy as they did in first quarter 2020, but also can’t operate as normal.
For us, most of our training is going ahead as it’s seen as essential – first aid, manual handling, driver CPC, Safepass (in fact the backlog of this is still effecting day to day operations.) First aiders should now be up to date if their certificates lapsed in lockdown 1.
Fire inspections, plant inspections should all still be going ahead. We see a lot of premises with equipment that has not been inspected in up to 5,6,7 years which is not ideal – should a HSA inspection occur, they will stop the use of a machine that is not up to date with
checks. Health & safety checks are essential and should always be seen as essential – even during COVID! Stocks and supplies have to be maintained and normal health and safety measures all have to be adhered to even if restrictions are in place or
inspections are delayed due to COVID. Don’t get complacent – do your checks!
COVID numbers this week have started to rise again slightly even with level 5 restrictions in place for nearly 4 weeks. The drop in numbers at the beginning of this period of level 5 were so encouraging, it seems everyone got a tad complacent which has resulted in the increase in the past week. We all know it- we need to knuckle down!
Attitudes can’t change, compliance is key.
We need to take responsibility of our own workplaces and keep the message current with our teams. Presently, the spikes in numbers are falling back to funerals, social gatherings and workplaces. There have been school outbreaks too of course, but not at the level of the other three main ones.
I would encourage all employers to openly discuss and make your ethos very clear regarding minor illness symptoms and calling into work with illness. The old mantra of take a couple of paracetamol & see out the day, and go in and be sent home cannot occur any more. If you
are needing to take Panadol, Nurofen etc at home; you are not fit to be at work. You are symptomatic. Stay at home, call your GP, assess your symptoms. If you miss a couple of days in work, it’s far preferable to coming in and potentially infecting many or all of your co-workers.
It’s so important as an employer to ensure your team know that it is ok to do this!
If they can WFH, make that an option (if they have mild symptoms but need to isolate). Same if they are a close contact.
Isolation rooms in workplaces – the symptoms can hit rapidly and within hours or minutes of feeling fine, you can have strong symptoms and need to isolate until you can get home, or preferably, go home immediately and contact your GP.
Hand sanitizer refill audits are essential. If you’re seeing a drop in how often you’re refilling your hand sanitizer, you know compliance has dropped off and employees need reminding again. It’s a simple tool to keep an eye on compliance. Ensure the areas of dispensers are appropriate. Entrances AND exits – exits are often overlooked. At each desk, in staff rooms, communal areas.
Keep your posters and signage visible, move them around to keep the message fresh with your team. These small things make it clear to your team that this is all still very important. If you need posters from us – contact us and we can help.
In retail outlets coming up to Xmas, ensure hand sanitizer is still displayed prominently – we know you need space for products, but ensure sanitizer is visible, and people don’t have to search to find it! This has to stay front and centre in everyone’s minds until we have a vaccine!
You’ve got to lead from the top – whatever way you wish to encourage these things, be it email reminders, newsletters or friendly chats! Just keep the reminder going that the precautionary measures are just as important inside of work as outside.
BREXIT – Does it effect your business?
A brief overview as it can become a tad overwhelming… and possibly a little boring!
Does it affect your business? Let’s check:
- Chemicals – refer to REACH guidelines – if you are using chemicals in your workplace that are coming in from the UK – after the 1st of January 2021 -you are an importer. If you wish to continue using these, you will have to register as an importer. We recommend to our clients now is the time to find a different supplier or a bigger distributor who will take the hit as an importer for you. There are costs and a lot of reporting and admin involved in being an importer yourself.
- INAB / UKAS / UK NI mark – PPE, machinery, medical devices, construction products. Some of your machinery or equipment may carry the UKAS symbol. After 1st January, this will no longer be seen as an accredited body in the EU. There will be a UKNI mark as part of the Northern Ireland protocol – this also will not be recognised by the EU.
- EMAS – environmental assessing body – this will also no longer be recognised come 1st January.
- Staff training – UK / NI – travelling for work. If you have employees that travel to the North or UK for work purposes. Any training they receive here in Ireland, may not be recognised there. For example, the First Aid Responder course is PHECC certified – this is one of the main ones that will not be recognised across the border
We appreciate it’s a tough time for companies with staff perhaps working from home or staff rotations to allow social distancing etc. It’s so important to stay engaged with and supportive of your employees throughout this time. Even when work is busy – try and make time to make the effort!
Try to encourage the following with any of your team who are working remotely:
- Good ergonomics – correct desk and chair set up with laptops, screens, lighting etc – so important to look after their backs and posture – this will increase productivity too
- Physical activity – encourage a walk throughout the working day – even take a meeting on the road with headphones!
- Phsychological – give support, limit isolation where possible, offer supervision and reassurance where needed
- Time management – ensure employees are taking time away, switching off, working at appropriate times, and are focused when doing so
- Take individual/ family circumstances into account – be understanding to employees home/work balance and situations
- For further tips and advice, read our recent blog post on working from home and always refer to HSA working from home guidelines.
To watch the full webinar – see the video recording below. We look forward to seeing you at our next webinar – 2021: Planning for the Year Ahead on 15th December 2020 at 1pm – click here to register your attendance. Thanks for watching!