COVID-SAFE UK Launched
When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the UK earlier this year, like many others I tried to think of ways that I could use my skills to help.
I am a terrible cook so feeding NHS workers was out of the question. I signed up as an NHS volunteer, but they already had plenty. I am a Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner with 28 years local authority and private sector experience in infection control and health and safety so perfectly placed to help. However, most of the organisations, we work with were closed and staff furloughed so no-one needed my colleagues or I to visit.
Forward-thinking operators, with an eye on the future, contacted us desperate to know how they could make their sites safe to re-open and just as importantly sought our advice as to how they could re-assure their workers and the public that protecting their health was priority.
To date, the Health and Safety Executive have had more than 7000 complaints from people concerned that COVID-19 precautions are inadequate in the places that they work or visit, and local authorities have been similarly inundated. There is a myriad of, often conflicting, guidance being produced but employers are finding wading through this and carrying out COVID-19 risk assessments to be a daunting task.
We decided that our skills and experience in designing simple to use health and safety packs that can be made site-specific would be one way that we could help organisations struggling to survive the economic downturn. We also set about designing a clear and best practice standard based on the latest research and Government guidance that organisations could work towards.
We approached the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health with our ideas. They thought that a Quality Mark that organisations following best practice could achieve would give employees and the public peace of mind and could also be useful to trading standards and environmental health officers when prioritizing their inspections.
Given the potential consequences of COVID-19 spread and the not unsurprising anxiety of workers and the public, we decided that it was not enough for organisations to self-certify or for a quality mark based on a paperwork exercise to be awarded. Instead, organisations that wish to be approved against the COVID-SAFE UK Standard are also inspected by video link to ensure that control measures are in place on site. These inspections are carried out by highly qualified health and safety practitioners and Members of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
We have been working night and day to get this initiative up and running and have launched the COVID-SAFE UK Standard today: https://www.saferassured.uk/
Early adopters of the Scheme are the CBA (Craft Bakers Association) who now include this as a free benefit to their trade association members (1500+ bakeries). CBA members can download resources to help them put in place best practice before applying independently for approval.
COVID-SAFE UK approval is available for most organisations that manage their own sites. It is not currently available for construction, educational, clinical or care settings, or closed operations.
If you would like to know more about this initiative, please feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01442 877322.