Safety at work in corporate locations
In accordance with current government restrictions, council staff should work from home wherever possible during the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.
However, some essential roles will need to maintain a presence in council buildings. This is to ensure critical services are maintained so we can protect the most vulnerable and keep the city running.
Although we've increased our cleaning regimes and all staff are reminded to follow the latest guidance on staying safe at all times, we can't guarantee that Covid-19 will be completely eliminated from the workplace. It’s therefore vital that managers effectively weigh up this risk against the benefit of their staff completing essential tasks from the office rather than at home.
You must consider the following when making any decisions about working from the office:
- Staff who have been instructed to self-isolate should stay at home as per the advice and should not be asked to come into council buildings
- maintain effective social distancing rules at all times
- continue to monitor the latest guidance from Public Health England
- wherever possible, conduct meetings over the phone and using Skype
- always clean your workstation before and after use with the hygeine products available and always observe government health advice
- familiarise yourself with the updated fire and first aid procedures for staff working in the office
- use the new wellbeing zone to support your mental and physical health during the Covid-19 crisis.
Reporting concerns about Covid-19 exposure management
Covid-19 is a biological hazard and needs to be managed in workplaces like any other significant health and safety (H&S) hazard.
There is an expectation that managers will have undertaken Covid-19 risk assessments (RAs) of work/workplaces, and of individual staff vulnerabilities where applicable.
Managers have also been asked to:
- report any confirmed cases of Covid-19 among staff to the H&S team
- carry out local investigations
- communicate with staff about any cases in order to help identify further protection measures – see support for leaders and managers for more details.
Raising your concerns
To help the council develop its Covid-19 management process and to help address potential control deficiencies, we’re asking staff to raise their concerns. These could include:
- you feel that your workplace/team is not applying the general Covid-19 precautions
- you believe local control measures are ineffective
- controls described in work risk assessments are not being (or are not able to be) applied.
Examples might include no hand-washing facilities, no or incorrect protective clothing, the inability to take a break away from the virus hazard, or having to work closely with other colleagues for long periods.
The methods you can use to raise their concerns will largely relate to the nature of the concern, your access to the council’s incident reporting system, and whether a documented report is required.
Ideally, you should raise their concerns with your line manager where possible so that managers have a chance to investigate the issues and can introduce corrective measures quickly, where this is appropriate.
Where circumstances do not allow this, or where it might be more appropriate, you can contact the H&S team by email HealthAndSafety@brighton-hove.gov.uk or telephoning your H&S contact (Please note that the H&S duty line is not currently operating.)
You can also contact your local trade union representative or HR advisor to discuss matters as appropriate.
Procedure for managers
Managers are also asked to report concerns as an H&S incident using the usual reporting method for their team, which could be a paper form, electronic IT application, or working with other staff to enter details on their behalf. The nature of the incident reporting system means that for staff concerns the incident would be a ‘near-miss’ injury type and ‘contact/exposure to a harmful substance' will be the incident cause.
If anyone is affected or injured because of Covid-19 management arrangements, the form allows for them to be listed, and the most relevant injury type would need to be selected. All incident reports require a documented manager investigation before going to H&S, but staff can chose any relevant manager to undertake this investigation.
How your information will be used
The H&S team will use notifications, staff contact, or incident forms, to work with relevant managers to review staff concerns and to help them introduce any further controls or corrective actions as may be necessary. The team will also monitor such details to identify any changes to organisational approach to Covid-19 that might be needed.