Our key objective is to keep our staff, customers, suppliers and everybody else with whom we interact safe from COVID 19. We will do this whilst maintaining existing standards of health and safety in everything we do and complying fully with Government guidance.
What have we done?
We have appointed a COVID 19 champion at each site whose responsibilities include promoting good practice and dealing with staff concerns.
Each site has completed a detailed risk assessment and checklist covering all activities and these are reviewed at least once a week by the managers and COVID 19 champions.
Our sites meet the requirements of the Government COVID 19 Secure guidelines and display the COVID- 9 Secure poster with pride.
- We have carried out COVID 19 risk assessments and shared the results with our staff and others who need to know.
- We have cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in line with the guidance.
- We have taken all reasonable steps to help people work from home.
- We have taken all reasonable steps to maintain a 2M safe distance in all our workplaces.
- In the small number of instances where people cannot be 2M apart, we have done everything possible to manage the transmission risk and this has been documented.
Consultation, advice and communication.
Our staff continue to be widely involved in the planning and implementation of our COVID 19 strategy. This has been achieved through our regular consultation and dedicated consultations specifically in relation to the pandemic.
We have the benefit of advice from our in-house health and safety professional and internal audit team. Our approach to COVID 19 is overseen by the Operations Development Director with the direct involvement of the CEO and other directors.
We are planning real-time audits and workplace inspections to make sure high standards are being maintained. Once it is safe to do so we will introduce face-to-face visits and other methods to provide reassurance.
All staff are given a COVID 19 induction and are kept apprised with a range of best practice guides, regular updates at least weekly, and other less formal methods such as toolbox talks and online meetings. These provisions apply equally to staff returning to the workplace after an absence.
All staff are made aware of our whistleblowing policy and posters are prominently displayed. The whistleblowing line can be anonymous and all calls are handled at director level and is also available and open to third party visitors and customers.
Protecting sick and vulnerable people.
Robust policies are applied to make sure staff do not travel to work if they have symptoms and visitors are reminded on arrival via posters. These policies also cover staff falling sick whilst at work.
Vulnerable people are protected and shielded in line with Government guidance.
Getting to work.
Staff have been made aware of the recent Government guidance on travelling safely and we make every effort to accommodate individuals’ requirements. We have reviewed car parking arrangements to ensure safe distancing and there is plenty of bicycle parking at our sites.
We have significantly increased our cleaning regimes covering all areas, vehicles, and equipment. Staff are actively required and encouraged to maintain high standards of hygiene.
- Cleaning materials are provided at key locations including entry and exit points and frequent touch points.
- Frequent touch points and equipment are regularly cleaned at a minimum of three times per shift and more often if equipment is shared.
- Windows and internal doors are left open where possible although we are careful not to compromise fire safety and fire doors are kept shut or held open by door retainers.
- Disposable gloves are provided for some activities.
All sites demonstrate and give confidence to the workforce that social distancing is consistently achieved without compromising other H&S requirements.
Start and finish times have been staggered to avoid congestion at busy times.
In the event that staff numbers increase, further measures such as staff working alternate days will be considered.
We have introduced one-way systems in offices, warehouses, yards and other areas where this is necessary.
Workstations and work procedures have been adjusted to reduce interaction and protect people.
Two metres social distancing is practiced at all times except for two activities where it is safer to work in pairs. These activities are lifting certain types of drums onto pallets and preparing some heavy duty cable for cutting. These operations are short-duration and staff work in the same pairs to avoid cross contamination between teams. They wear face masks, avoid face to face working, and maintain high standards of hygiene throughout.
Warehouses and yards.
Wherever possible there is no sharing of work equipment such as forklift trucks, cable reeling machines and tools. Where such sharing cannot be avoided, enhanced cleaning regimes are in place and the number of users is restricted to the absolute minimum.
We also have clear procedures for goods-inwards to eliminate contact with incoming delivery drivers. For example, physical signatures are not required and drivers’ movements are strictly controlled.
Trade counters and collection points.
Customers are encouraged to place orders via our website and use the delivery option rather than collect the goods in person, although controlled collection facilities are still available.
Our procedures are based not only on Government standards but on industry best practice including guidance issued by the Builders Merchant Federation and The Electrical Distributors Association.
Trade counters have temporarily been replaced by collection points to eliminate interaction with customers. All collections are prearranged and timed to avoid congestion and customers wait in their vehicle until their order is ready.
Enhanced cleaning regimes are in place.
We have temporarily suspended deliveries from our own vehicles and rely instead on third party carriers. There is no contact with the third party drivers as they will either remain in their vehicle during loading or wait in a safe location.
All existing risk assessments and work procedures are regularly reviewed to make sure staff are not at increased risk due to COVID 19 related changes to procedures or staffing changes.
This includes the provision of first aiders, fire marshals and specialist operatives such as fork truck operators and cable reelers.
Staff temporarily working from home.
All staff that can work from home are working from home and are provided where necessary with the appropriate IT support. We plan to gradually increase staff numbers in the warehouses and offices in the coming months when we are sure this is safe and will introduce additional safeguards as required.
Staff working from home have been given written guidance on working safely and comfortably from home and managers regularly keep in touch through a range of media.
We are also aware of the potential impact on people’s mental and physical wellbeing and follow the recently published Government guidance which has been shared with staff.
Contractors and others at our sites.
If it is necessary for a contractor or other person to visit our site, they are required to apply the same high standards as our own staff. If the proposed work puts staff at increased risk, it will be postponed until pandemic requirements are eased.
- Contractors are not allowed on site unless their own risk assessments and work practices demonstrate how they will work safely and in line with Government guidance.
- Social distancing and hygiene are maintained throughout the time any third party is on our site.
- Staff have been briefed on how to deal with contractors and other visitors, including action to take if they behave irresponsibly or contrary to their method statements.