Working From Home – The New Normal

Working From Home – The New Normal

Working from home has become the new norm whilst trying to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 during the pandemic.  As lockdown measures are relaxed, homeworking is expected to continue making it the ‘new normal’ for many.

Without effective planning, self-discipline and a lot of self-motivation, home working is not always as glamorous and appealing as it was thought to be, back in those days of when having to leave your home each day to go to work pre COVID-19.

Below are some handy tips to try to ensure you are not only safe whilst working at home, but you also have a healthy mind:

  • Ensure you have a suitable environment for homeworking – quiet, free from distractions, suitable workstation, adequate lighting and ventilation.  Ensure your electrical equipment is suitable for use and has been regularly PAT tested.
  • Plan your day to ensure you are not putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.  Are your expectations realistic?  Consider the needs of others in your home and their demands on your time.
  • Take regular breaks.  Have time away from screens and move around.  This will help to reduce eye strain and musculoskeletal problems.  Have that lunch break, get fresh air, you will be far more productive afterwards.
  • Manage the expectations of others.  Email can be a source of stress, so schedule time to prioritise and respond. Setting an automated email reply outlining your availability may help manage people’s expectations.
  • Be disciplined with your time.  Technology enables remote working and permits scheduling of work around other responsibilities. However, a danger is when people use this flexibility to work longer and harder. Being ‘always switched on’ can lead to cognitive weariness, headaches, blurred vision, etc. Setting ‘rules of engagement’ for screen time and taking breaks between virtual conferences can help mitigate the impact. ‘Switch off’ from technology used for work to help you recoup your energy and concentration.
  • Set boundaries. The boundaries between work and non-work time can become very blurred when homeworking. Establish a routine and stick to planned to finish times. Include a ‘proper’ lunch hour.  Adopt an ‘unwinding ritual’ for transitioning between work and home: change your clothes, have a shower, cook a meal, or go for a run.  Mindful walking can be a good way to switch off.
  • Stay socially connected – this is particularly important if you live alone.  Arrange virtual coffee time for a catch up with friends and colleagues.  Being connected with others helps to reduce anxiety and depression and improve engagement, motivation and productivity.
  • Ensure you regularly review you progress, keep actions lists and have regular check ins with your manager.

By trying to implement the above, or at least by being aware of them, you can maintain healthy sustainable working from home.

Sarah Mellor CMIOSH MIIRSM
Salopian Health & Safety Limited
T: 01630 657084
E: enquiries@salopiansafety.co.uk
W:
SalopianSafety.co.uk

COVID-19 Links to Government and World Health Organisation Guides

COVID-19 Links to Government and World Health Organisation Guides

Here’s a quick way to bookmark & save all the latest Government and World Health Organisation Guides regarding COVID-19.

Working Safely During COVID-19 Guides:

  • In other people’s homes

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/homes

  • In construction & other outdoor work

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/construction-and-other-outdoor-work

  • In or from a vehicle

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/vehicles

  • In shops and branches

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/shops-and-branches

  • In offices and contact centres

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/offices-and-contact-centres

  • In factories, plants & warehouses

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/factories-plants-and-warehouses

  • In restaurants offering takeaway or delivery

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/restaurants-offering-takeaway-or-delivery

  • In laboratories & research facilities

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/labs-and-research-facilities

  • In Schools

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-school-closures/guidance-for-schools-about-temporarily-closing

  • In Close Contact Services – including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/close-contact-services

  • In Hotels & Other Guest Accommodation

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/hotels-and-other-guest-accommodation

  • In Restaurants, Pubs, Bars & Takeaway Services

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/restaurants-offering-takeaway-or-delivery

  • In guest accommodation, indoor and outdoor attractions, and business events and consumer shows.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/the-visitor-economy

  • Working or volunteering in Heritage locations

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/heritage-locations

All businesses are required to display this sign to show they are COVID-19 secure and have followed guidancehttps://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-covid-19-secure-in-2020-notice

How to correctly wear a facemask (note facemasks have not been recommended by Government but face coverings have in enclosed spaces (as of 11.05.20) and on public transport (as of 15.06.20).  Facemasks can be used by employees if they are required due to normal work activities i.e. dust, fumes etc. 

Facemasks – how to wear them correctly

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks

How to wear & make a face covering

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering

Guidance Covid 19 Cleaning in Non-Healthcare Settings -PHE

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

RIDDOR Regulations – requirement to report COVID-19 – biological agent if you suspect someone has been exposed to or contracted COVID-19 on your site/via your activities.

https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/riddor-reporting-coronavirus.htm

NHS 111 Online System if you have COVID-19 symptoms

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms/

Should you like to discuss your responsibilities, please just get in touch.

Sarah Mellor CMIOSH MIIRSM
Salopian Health & Safety Limited
T: 01630 657084
E: enquiries@salopiansafety.co.uk
W:
SalopianSafety.co.uk

Coronavirus – How To Protect Your Employees

Coronavirus – How To Protect Your Employees

I think we all know by know what coronavirus is, but just to clarify;

COVID-19 is an illness that can affect the lungs and airways.   Symptoms are fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.  It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus. In January 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus a global health emergency.

The risk of catching COVID-19 depends on where you live or where you have travelled recently.

So what can employers do to protect their staff?

Don’t panic but take sensible and proportionate measures such as ensuring that workers have access to appropriate hygiene facilities such hot water, soap and bins to get rid of used tissues.  

The risk of catching it within the workplace is low, although an increasing number of employers are encouraging their employees to work from home in order to help to prevent further spread of the virus.

Workers are advised to maintain good hygiene standards around the workplace by following the latest advice from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) website which includes the following basic protective measures: 

  • Wash your hands frequently with alcohol-based hand wash or wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Maintain social distancing- maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose
  • Practice respiratory hygiene – Using the nearest waste receptacle to dispose of the tissue after use
  • Stay informed and follow the advice given by health care providers

In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) has advised that most people can continue to go to work, school and other public places, and that self-isolation is only to be undertaken if the individual is advised to do so by the 111 online coronavirus service or a medical professional. Read the full NHS advice here.

Which emergency plans do you need to have in place?

The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) advises that businesses follow good practice in emergency planning, preparedness and response. This can be achieved by adopting the following steps:

  • Develop a response plan for if someone in the workplace becomes ill with suspected COVID-19. This should include the immediate response e.g. isolate the individual and contact the local health authority
  • Plan to identify persons who may be at risk without stigma or discrimination
  • Explore ways of remote working (teleworking) that will allow workers to continue their work from home
  • Develop a business continuity plan for an outbreak, which covers:
    • How your organisation will continue to function if workers, contractors and suppliers cannot come to your place of business
    • Visitors and vendors who have access to the building
    • Communicate to workers and contractors about the plan and their role in it
    • Ensure the plan addresses mental health and social consequences of a case of COVID-19 in the workplace

What if you or your employees need to travel for work?

IOSH recommends the following key actions organisations can take to manage traveller health, safety and wellbeing:

  • To effectively manage travel risk, you need to ensure you have proportionate and robust policies, procedures and controls in place. Communicate them to all relevant parts of your organisation, providing information, instruction and training as appropriate.
  • Consider whether the travel is absolutely necessary: can you achieve the same result with video conferencing?
  • If travel is deemed necessary then you need to effectively but proportionately manage the risk, with controls identified and implemented which reflect the nature and severity of the risk. Such controls should be identified through a travel risk assessment. 
  • You will always need to know where your workers are and where they are going. Some travel management systems provide tracking and alert functions, and there are also products utilising GPS.
  • Should your travellers become involved in an incident or emergency situation, you need to have a means by which to provide support for them. Businesses should source local emergency phone numbers in countries, giving employees quick access to assistance. Most schemes and business travel insurance packages offer a 24/7 helpline which triggers support services for the traveller, providing assistance with medical treatment and repatriation due to injuries and illness as well as helping with lost documents, stolen money and other common travel-related problems.
  • Finally, don’t forget your travellers’ wellbeing. Frequent international travel has been shown to have negative effects on both physical and mental health, with situations such as a disease outbreak providing further sources of concern.

The current situation and guidance with regards to this virus is changing rapidly, so ensure you continually review your control measures and regularly communicate these to your workers.

Useful links:

For updates on the coronavirus, please visit the Public Health England website.

For useful Q & A’s regarding Coronavirus visit the World Health Organisation (WHO) website.

Should you like any advice on how to apply the measures above, then just get in touch here.

Sarah Mellor CMIOSH MIIRSM
Salopian Health & Safety Limited
T: 01630 657084
E: enquiries@salopiansafety.co.uk
W:
SalopianSafety.co.uk

Landlords and Managing Agents Health and Safety Responsibilities

Landlords and Managing Agents Health and Safety Responsibilities

As a landlord you have a legal duty to safeguard the health and safety of your tenants and others in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Housing Act 2004, the Occupiers Liability Act 1984 and associated legislation.

What are my landlord health and safety responsibilities?

Gas Safety Responsibilities – you must ensure that all gas appliances in your property are safe for your tenants to use, which requires you to:

  • Arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to install and maintain gas supplies. These checks must occur every 12 months.
  • Have an up-to-date gas safety record which should be issued to your tenant.
  • Inform tenants of where to turn off the gas and what to do in case of an emergency.

Fire Safety Responsibilities – you have a legal obligation to ensure that your properties comply with fire safety regulations.

  • Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, you must undertake a fire risk assessment in all areas of your property.

Electrical Safety Responsibilities – You must:

  • Ensure all electrical installations are safe.
  • Ensure that all appliances provided to your tenants have the ‘CE’ marking. 
  • Use a qualified electrician to carry out checks.  A registered electrician will issue an Electrical Installation Condition Report after they have inspected installations. 
  • Ensure that all alterations, repairs, and improvements to the fixed electrical system comply with the latest Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Wiring Regulations.

Legionella Safety Responsibilities – In a property, legionella bacteria may be found in any water system between 20-45°c which could be fatal.   

  • To effectively prevent legionella and legionnaire’s disease in your property, you must undertake a legionella risk assessment.

Asbestos Safety Responsibilities – It is a legal requirement that you must ensure you manage the risk posed by asbestos. 

  • This can be achieved by carrying out an asbestos risk assessment by a competent person.

Letting/Managing Agents should have a management contract in place which should clearly specify who is responsible for the above and associated record keeping. 

What are the consequences if I choose not to comply?

If you choose not to comply with the law, you could face hefty costs.  These could be in the way of fines from local authorities should you fail to ensure adequate health and safety standards.

There is also a risk of civil prosecutions if someone injures themselves as a result of poor health and safety at your property.  Any damage to your reputation from any such proceedings would also have a detrimental financial effect on you as a landlord in the future and your ability to rent out properties.  In addition, legal proceedings may also affect the reputation of any managing agents associated with the landlord.

What more can I do?

An annual Property Inspection carried out by a competent health and safety consultant demonstrates a positive attitude towards health and safety and a strong duty of care towards your tenants and others. 

Furthermore, a regular property inspection highlights any potential hazards and controls required to reduce the risk of harm to others, enabling you to be proactive and have peace of mind that you are reducing the likelihood of any harm being incurred and associated legal proceedings.

Should you like to discuss your responsibilities, please just get in touch.

Sarah Mellor CMIOSH MIIRSM
Salopian Health & Safety Limited
T: 01630 657084
E: enquiries@salopiansafety.co.uk
W:
SalopianSafety.co.uk

Hazardous Substances – Are You Putting Your Staff At Risk?

Hazardous Substances – Are You Putting Your Staff At Risk?

When it comes to safely handling hazardous substances, risk assessments are key.  Did you know they are a legal requirement?

It is surprising how many materials or substances used or created at work could damage your health.  They could be dusts, gases, liquids, gels or powders that you come into contact with.

Harmful substances can be present in anything from paints and cleaning products to flour dust, welding fume and biological agents.

What Are The Hazards?

Some substances can cause asthma or other diseases, including cancer. Many can damage the skin and some can cause serious long-term damage to the lungs.

The effect can be immediate, such as dizziness or stinging eyes, or can take many years to develop, such as lung disease.  Many of the long-term or chronic effects are not reversible.

What Do I Have To Do As An Employer?

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) requires you to adequately control exposure to materials that cause ill health by:

  • identifying which harmful substances may be present in the workplace
  • deciding how workers might be exposed to them and be harmed
  • looking at what measures you have in place to prevent this harm and deciding whether you are doing enough
  • providing information, instruction and training
  • in appropriate cases, providing health surveillance.

The above actions can be systematically worked through by completing a COSHH Risk Assessment.

If you would like any help with ensuring your workforce are not at risk and you comply with the COSHH Regulations, get in touch.

Sarah Mellor CMIOSH MIIRSM
Salopian Health & Safety Limited
T: 01630 657084
E: enquiries@salopiansafety.co.uk
W:
SalopianSafety.co.uk