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COVID-19: Winter Preparations

The UK tends to descend into absolute chaos when we see the first flake of snow, almost like we don’t know what it is, and we certainly don’t ever seem to be prepared.
 
When winter strikes this year it’ll be our first winter where we have to deal with COVID-19 alongside the usual ailments that strike us all down like winter colds with its usual coughs, sneezes and snuffles. 

What should you consider to get your company ready for winter this year?

Set Rules

Your staff will inevitably fall sick, so you should insist that anyone who has any cold like symptoms should stay at home and definitely do not allow the “mucus trooper” into work i.e. that person who clearly has a cold and is coughing and sneezing all over the place! 
 
Setting strict rules around entering the workplace when ill and ensuring your staff follow these rules will reduce your infection rates.
 
For many this will raise the issue around sick pay. To make it easier, you should decide beforehand on what you intend to do i.e. full or statutory sick pay, or utilise you in-house pay scheme that you may have. Our team of expert HR Consultants will be able to advise you on this.

Offer Flu Jabs

The humble flu jab will be more important than ever in protecting your business and people this winter. Those who qualify for them free on the NHS or are already advised to have one should be encouraged to do so. 
 
For all other staff you should consider offering to pay for flu jabs. It should be noted that there is no legal requirement for organisations to do this, and an individual cannot be forced to have a flu vaccination.
 
If your company decides to offer this service, you can offer flu vouchers or have an organisation come into the workplace and give flu vaccinations.  These can be done on the high street as well e.g. Boots Pharmacy, Lloyds Pharmacies etc. Read further guidance on flu jabs.

What about your employees who visit client sites?

All commercial organisations should display the COVID Secure poster (as per government guidance) at the entrance to their premises. This is a declaration that they have taken all necessary steps to keep people safe from COVID-19.
 
If your staff don’t see this when entering a client site, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is unsafe to enter. There are other commercial schemes out there that attempt to give assurances about COVID-19 (AA Covid Confident, NQA Covid Secure, We’re Good to Go – tourism partnership scheme etc) and these all give assurances that the organisations are doing their bit when it comes to COVID-19.
 
As the employer you will need to make sure your staff do not enter any premises that is not COVID Secure. To help you fulfil your legal obligation you should ensure a pre-visit questionnaire is sent to the client prior to your staff going on their site. Download the Alcumus “Return to work Pack” for a template form you can use for this purpose.
 
Your visiting staff will also have to follow a risk assessment. 
 
If your people get to the client site and suspect that COVID-19 controls are not being implemented they should withdraw from that site immediately.
 
If your staff share a vehicle or use a “pool” car make sure someone takes responsibility and all touch points in the car are wiped over with a sanitising wipe, including door handles.

Maintaining the usual hand washing/sanitising regimes that we are all becoming used to will be vitally important, so make sure complacency doesn’t set in.
 
It’s also important for your organisation to control “visitors” to your premises. You need to make sure they’re following all relevant government guidelines and social distancing, including wearing face covering where required.
 
As always keep monitoring government sites for relevant guidance and rest assured Alcumus will keep you appraised of any significant developments.

If you have any questions about the above, or would like to know how Alcumus PSM can help you manage your health and safety, please contact the Alcumus PSM H&S Consultancy team on psm.enquiries@alcumusgroup.com.

Alcumus PSM (People & Safety Management) specialises in human resources (HR) and health and safety (H&S) consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Written by Graham Carson, Senior Health & Safety Consultant