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 and customer concerns.
Each of our branches 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.
All branches 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 staff 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 at all locations. 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 where there is demand we have facilitated bike storage.
Where staff have to use public transport to get to work, particularly in central London, they are encouraged to wear face masks and start times have been adjusted to avoid peak periods.
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. This is at least twice per shift and more often in areas used by customers.
- Windows and internal doors are left open where possible although we are careful not to compromise fire safety and fire doors are kept shut.
- 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 at sites where this is necessary 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, shops and trade counters and some of our branches use walkie-talkies to reduce staff movement around the building.
Workstations and work procedures have been adjusted to reduce interaction and protect people.
The layout at a small number of branches means that staff occasionally pass within 2M of each other when behind the counter or accessing the stock rooms. We have eliminated this wherever possible and when it does happen it is for no more than a few seconds. There is no physical contact, staff are side by side rather than facing each other and there is no risk to customers as they are separated from staff and each other by barriers and guided by floor markings.
Warehouses and yards.
Wherever possible there is no sharing of work equipment such as the forklift truck, barrows, cable reelers, 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.
Trade counters and shop areas.
Customers are encouraged to place orders via our website and use the delivery or collection options rather than come into our shops and trade counters.
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.
Customer access to the shops and trade counters is strictly controlled and social distancing is managed through clear signage, floor markings and plexiglass barriers.
Enhanced cleaning regimes are in place.
Revised procedures are in place to make sure our van drivers do not come into contact with other people during deliveries. For example we agree procedures in advance with all our customers, do not require physical signatures, never share equipment, do not share vans, and have introduced enhanced cleaning regimes for all vehicles.
As an added precaution our drivers wear a face mask and gloves.
All deliveries can either be safely unloaded by our driver working alone or are unloaded by the customers’ staff using mechanical handling equipment as required.
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 qualified operatives such as fork truck operators.
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 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 Other Visitors to our sites.
All non-essential work has been postponed and visitors are only allowed on site for essential purposes.
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.
- 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.