Working together, apart

We take Health and Safety very seriously here at Suprafilt – and this ethos has definitely come in to play in the past few weeks.

We were ahead of the curve with Coronavirus – busy drafting plans for a new ‘Pandemic epidemic’ document with lengthy risk assessments for office staff, shop floor workers and onsite installers.

Because we operate in the water and wastewater industry we are classed as key workers, and therefore we’re able to continue to operate. However, it has been our priority to ensure that all staff and visitors are protected as much as possible from Coronavirus.

We had to take into account the three different environments within the company when assessing the controls required.

Working From Home

Thankfully, the majority of our office staff have been able to relocate to the comfort of their own homes. Before the Government announced that people should work from home, we had already moved desks further apart to help with social distancing, requested VPN connections for staff to access the server from home, and set up Microsoft Teams to keep everyone in touch.

Team meetings are now held digitally, and the usual Suprafilt banter is encouraged to ensure staff don’t feel isolated or lonely.

Shop Floor:

It’s business as usually for our factory workers. For the guys on the shop floor, social distancing isn’t too far from the norm. Each welder has their own welding bay and personal space. However, some social distancing changes have been made to protect the labourers. Guidance on how to safely operate has been distributed, such as working at opposite ends of equipment to ensure employees are kept at a safe distance.

We have also staggered breaks to minimise the number of people in the canteen and marked out 2m guides on the floor near the clocking in machine to minimise congestion.

We also have hand sanitiser, soap and other hygiene measures in place around the building.

On Site:

Each process on site has been looked at individually and risk assessed to see whether it can be adjusted to comply with social distancing rules, or whether additional PPE is required.

The majority of tasks can be carried out while social distancing, and also complying with site rules. We are also liaising with operational sites to make sure we are happy that they are taking steps to ensure staff are protected on site.

We have had to make some additional changes – such as employees travelling individually to sites rather than together in the vans, and establishing whether there are any hotels near to sites where a visit is required.

We have tried to cover all possibilities and the assessments are very much working documents which are being added to if any new issues or concerns are raised. Some of them seemed very extreme, but the outbreak has required extreme measures.

At the moment we feel in control. We now have a tried and tested pandemic epidemic risk safe operating manual and the staff have all been very supportive of every measure we have put in place to keep them safe.

We will of course be led by Government advice and guidance, but we will always air on the side of caution when it comes to protecting our employees.