Content

Health and safety

SHaW team helps us mark World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Wednesday 28 April is World Day for Safety and Health at Work. To mark the occasion, the Safety, Health and Wellbeing (SHaW) team has reminded us of some of the ways that we can continue to keep safe and healthy wherever we work, outside, in the office, at home and in other workplaces.

The team provides advice, guidance, systems, tools, carries out investigations, audits, and supports carrying out  risk assessments to ensure the council follows good practice and complies with all Health and Safety-related legislative requirements, to carry out its duty of care to its staff and those affected by your work activity.

Whatever line of work you are in, why not check out the team’s policies identifying relevant policies and procedures on a range of topics – from asbestos to lone working, fire safety, slips, trips and falls, and the proper use of display screen equipment. Of course, with the onset of COVID-19 last year, there was a need for most of us to start working remotely – last year, the team shared these top ten tips on how to optimise your home working experience. And if you need a more considered occupational health intervention or are struggling to balance the requirements of work and home life, you can contact our Employee Assistance Programme here. Our e-learning system, the POD (Place of Development), also has some relevant e-learning around how to build your personal resilience and deal with stress and adversity in the workplace and at home – check out the course here.

Our most recent pulse survey has revealed that nearly 25% of you felt that a lack of proper equipment (desks, chairs, screens etc) was one of the main challenges to continuing to work from home. The SHaW team is still running our Home and Agile equipment scheme to allow staff to access a range of flexible and ergonomic items to further improve your home working experience, at no personal cost. Fill in the questionnaire here, or email shaw@barnet.gov.uk for more information.

Mike Koumi, Head of Safety, Health and Wellbeing, said: “The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is a good time to stop and reflect on whether you and your teams are doing everything you can to maximise your daily health and safety, it’s not just about COVID but how you work safely. The council is working hard and has done throughout the pandemic to ensure that our buildings and work settings remain COVID-secure while also following routine health and safety procedures, and the team will play a key role as we start planning for how we work in the future.”


Severe cold weather expected from this Saturday

The Met Office has issued a Level 3 Cold Weather Alert for London. There is a probability of severe cold weather between 9am on Saturday 6 February and 9pm Wednesday 10 February.

Please be careful of icy conditions while out for your daily exercise, especially walking and cycling. Prolonged periods of cold weather can be dangerous for the vulnerable as well. This includes for older people, those with underlying health conditions, and young children. The freezing weather conditions could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services.

Whilst the majority of you will be working from home and mainly indoors due to national restrictions, it is also important that you take the time to take care of yourself, any family members as well as checking in with any vulnerable clients and customers you work with.

Please ensure you respond to and follow any advice or requests from your service business continuity leads leads, or from your line manager, to ensure continued optimum service delivery.

Try to follow these key pieces of winter weather advice:

  • Try to heat your home to at least 18 degrees Celsius
  • Have hot drinks regularly and at least one hot meal a day
  • Try to ensure you have stocks of food and medicines ready so you don’t need to go out in extremely cold weather
  • While taking care to continue to adhere to the Lockdown COVID-19 restrictions, try to check on the welfare of elderly and vulnerable clients, customers, neighbours and relatives to make sure they are okay.

Aside from the challenges of the pandemic, it's also cold and flu season, so it's really important you take the time to look after your health and wellbeing. You can find lots more helpful information at the NHS site for Keeping Warm and Well here, as well as find out about wellbeing events and activities on offer to you at the Workplace Wellbeing Hub here on Yammer.


London Cold Weather alert upped to Level 3

Following from a continued period of very cold temperatures in London and the South East this week, The Met Office have now issued a Level 3 Alert and Readiness. The warning area has now been extended to more of southern and southwest of England.

Yellow warning: Snow and Ice. The Met Office has issued a Level 3 ‘Alert and Readiness’ Cold Weather Alert for London through tonight with the freezing temperatures expected to continue through the weekend and getting to below minus one degree at some points over the next few days until Monday 11 January.

Icy stretches are likely to form perhaps leading to some disruption to travel with snow falling in some places. The Met Office advise that there is the potential for icy patches on untreated surfaces leading to difficult driving conditions and the risk of slips and falls.

Whilst the majority of you will be working from home and mainly indoors due to national restrictions, it is also important that you take the time to take care of yourself, any family members as well as checking in with any vulnerable clients and customers you work with.

It is also important that you keep warm inside your home. Please try to follow these key pieces of winter weather advice:

  • Try to heat your home to at least 18 degrees Celsius
  • Have hot drinks regularly and at least one hot meal a day
  • Try to ensure you have stocks of food and medicines ready so you don’t need to go out in extremely cold weather
  • While taking care to continue to adhere to the Tier 4 COVID-19 restrictions, try to check on the welfare of elderly and vulnerable clients, customers, neighbours and relatives to make sure they are okay.

Those at particular risk include pregnant women, over-65s, those with disabilities, people with a long-term health condition, and babies and children under five.

You can find lots more helpful information at the NHS site for Keeping Warm and Well here.


Updated COVID-19 Risk Assessment forms and templates 

Always make sure you are using the latest COVID-19 risk assessment form and templates.

These risk assessment forms and templates have been produced to assist you in carrying out risk assessments for the workplace and for individuals to ensure we are all working in a COVID-19 secure way. Please use these and also discuss with staff and the Trade Unions about the measures you have introduced to protect staff and service users.

 

Looking for the latest COVID-19 risk assessment forms? Please download from the below list:

 


Air pollution levels on high alert levels today

The Mayor of London has issued an air pollution warning today as the capital experiences dangerous levels of ozone pollution due to high temperatures.

Temperatures are expected to reach around 36 degrees in London today. As well as glorious sunshine, the heat also provides the perfect conditions for high for air pollution levels to thrive.

Whilst we all want to enjoy the lovely sunshine today and across the weekend, we want to remind everyone to be sensible and remember to look out for vulnerable people, bearing in mind not just the high temperatures, but the fact that high air pollution alerts can pose a health risk, too.

Anyone experiencing discomfort such as sore eyes, cough or sore throat should consider reducing activity, particularly outdoors. 

Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors and particularly if they experience symptoms. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often. Older people should also reduce physical exertion.

Due to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic please follow the Government's stay at home guidance. More information on this guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Further information on air pollution in London and what the Mayor is doing to improve it is available here

Stay cool in the heat - some advice and working guidance here.

Stay safe.


Planning a holiday or trip abroad? Read the COVID-19 Travelling Overseas advice 

HR colleagues have this week published a document entitled ‘COVID-19 – Travelling Overseas’ with information for staff and managers around the planning of holidays. It sets out that the blanket quarantine advice introduced on 8 June has changed. A number of ‘travel corridors’ were announced on 3 July, with certain countries to which people living in the UK can travel without the need to quarantine on their return.

However, it also recognises that the situation is dynamic and can change quickly (as with the lifting of the travel corridor with Spain on 26 July). So – advice is, where possible, if staff are required to quarantine on their return from leave, that they continue to carry out their duties working from home during the quarantine period. Where this is not possible due to the nature of their role, then Barnet managers are empowered to either agree additional paid leave (Quarantine Leave), or require staff to take a further period of annual leave to cover the quarantine period. This refers to LBB staff – staff working for The Barnet Group, Cambridge Education, CSG and Re should refer to their company policies.

There are a number of factors that managers should take into account when deciding on whether paid Quarantine Leave can be agreed, or not. The guidance can be read in full below:

 


Keeping you safe and well – wherever you are working from

These risk assessment forms and templates have been produced to assist you in carrying out risk assessments for the workplace and for individuals to ensure we are all working in a COVID-19 secure way. Please use these and also discuss with staff and the Trade Unions about the measures you have introduced to protect staff and service users.

Please note that government advice does periodically change so please keep yourselves updated by checking in on the Public Health England website here - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


London heatwave is here

 

London Heatwave

This week, the Met Office is forecasting very high temperatures in London this week, going up to 30 degrees celsius by Wednesday.

Whilst most of us would no doubt welcome a generous shot of vitamin D aka sunshine, we want to make sure that you stay safe during this spell of boiling hot weather. Stay sensible and safe and look out for vulnerable people you know during this hot spell, as many of us are at home with the kids and have partners who might have health conditions or self-isolating.

For those of us who have been working from home indoors for prolonged periods, take it easy and don't stay out too much in the peak afternoon heat. For our colleagues who work outside, please see the attached PDF for specific advice on keeping cool.

Enjoy the sun, but stay safe:

 

  • keep covered up
  • wear cool, loose clothing
  • keep hydrated by drinking plenty of cool, refreshing drinks, i.e. water and squash, not alcohol
  • wear sun cream when out of doors
  • avoid being out of doors at the hottest part of the day (between 12-3pm)
  • be aware of vulnerable persons, i.e. the young, elderly and/or infirm who may need to be monitored more to ensure they do not suffer heat exhaustion, sun stroke or dehydration
  • walk in the shade and try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm
  • wear UV sunglasses, preferably wraparound, to reduce UV exposure to the eyes
  • apply sunscreen of at least SPF15 with UVA protection
  • cover up; wear a hat, light scarf and loose-fitting cotton clothes
  • drink lots of cool drinks and take water with you when travelling
  • working from home, keep cool indoors by closing curtains/blinds on windows that face the sun and opening windows during the cooler times of the day and overnight. Turn off non-essential lights and electrical items as these generate heat.

Health and social care workers should regularly check on vulnerable patients, share sun safety messages, make sure room temperatures are set below 26 degrees and ensure patients have access to cold water and ice.

Please see guidelines on staying safe in the heat for colleagues who work outside here. 

Keep up to date with information from the Met Office here and the latest advice from Public Health England here.

If managers have any other questions about managing your team during a heatwave, please direct them to shaw@barnet.gov.uk.

 


COVID-19 staff safety measures introduced at our offices

We recently wrote to all staff on the easing of lockdown restrictions and what that meant for returning to offices. The main message was that everyone who can should continue to work from home, until at least September. Where that is not possible and where there is an exceptional need for staff to come to offices, new measures would be introduced at our offices to keep people safe. We have seen an increase in the number of staff accessing the building and it is really important that people only come to the office on an exceptional basis, and observe social distancing rules at all times.

 

Colindale social distancing

To ensure that our offices are safe in line with infection control guidance, we are introducing the following measures:

1. Closing all kitchen areas and fridges. Professional advice is that these areas are a major risk of contagion. Water bottles for drinking water will be made available for those staff who have to use the buildings

2. From the main entrance, a keep-left, one-way system will be defined by signage. Lifts are only to be used to go up, stairs to come down and only one person can use a lift at a time. Where this is not possible for medical reasons, please ensure you liaise with Facilities

3. Heads of Service must approve access for staff that need to carry out essential work in the offices (Colindale, Hendon Town Hall and Barnet House), and that list of staff must be supplied to Facilities Management for reference, in advance of any of their staff attempting to access the building. This will allow Facilities Management to carry out a short-term building induction with any staff who need to come into the office to perform essential tasks. In addition, the IT Surgery will continue to operate an appointment-only service for all staff

4. Meeting rooms will be open but are for use by no more than one person at a time and no eating is allowed within meeting rooms. This is because they are enclosed spaces with no opening windows and as a result are major areas of potential contagion. Wipes and anti-viral cleaning spray will be provided so that users can clean the rooms before they leave. We continue to encourage staff to use Microsoft Teams and Skype to conduct any meetings required 5. The 4th floor terrace at the Colindale office will remain open but tables should only be used by one person at a time. If this area is observed to be used inappropriately it will be taken out of use

6. Access to the office for people with personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPS) must be carefully considered by line managers, supported by a relevant risk assessment carried out by the line manager in consultation with the Safety, Health and Wellbeing Team (SHaW) and Facilities Management. As set out in previous communications, we have kicked off a process to review all of our service areas and buildings. This process will involve undertaking COVID-secure health and safety risk assessments for any changes that are made. Until these assessments are completed, all staff should continue with their COVID-19 working patterns and only come into the office if it is essential. Posters and digital screens in the Colindale office are re-enforcing the new measures. Any major issues caused by these measures should be raised in the first instance with your line manager, or by emailing first.team@barnet.gov.uk.

 


Public Health England release detailed guidance on PPE

In recent weeks, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) guidance for people who work directly with clients has been critical to ensure services can be delivered safely for both clients and staff.

Public Health England (PHE) have now made more detailed (PPE) guidance available. If you work in a frontline service such as a care home or a day service, please make sure you take the time to review the documents attached below, and fill in a request form if you require PPE.

 

The PHE guidelines stipulate in detail:

 

  • New detailed FAQS on exactly the scenarios where PPE must be used, including whether shoes should be covered and if you can re-use your PPE.

 

 

 

You can use the form (in bullet point five) to request supplies of PPE and then email the form to covid19@barnet.gov.uk and copy in your Head of Service.

Please be aware that staff requesting PPE will have to pick up any allocated items from our Colindale office.

Finally, please make sure you adopt the following hygiene measures all the time:

  • Wash hands frequently with warm water and soap (for at least 20 seconds) or use a hand sanitizer (with a minimum of 60% alcohol) if you don’t have access to soap.
  • Wash your forearms as well, if they have been exposed
  • Avoid touching your face, nose and eyes
  • Clean surfaces frequently including door handles, rails, hoists etc.

Stay safe.


Are you a frontline worker whose job involves visiting clients?

We now have clear guidance for staff who need to visit vulnerable clients and whether they should be using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to do so.

First of all, you should clarify where possible if your client is:

  1. In self-isolation due to COVID-19 and asymptomatic OR self-isolation due to COVID-19 and symptomatic prior to the visit.
  2. Or, where a face to face visit is not essential and explore alternative methods such as telephone or online where possible/appropriate.

If the client is self-isolating but is not showing symptoms (is asymptomatic):

1. Visits can go ahead, and no personal protective equipment is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices.

2. If a visit is not deemed necessary at this stage contact with the person can be maintained by telephone.

3. Workers should practice tips on preventing spread of infection at all time.

 

If the client is self-isolating and has symptoms of COVID-19 (i.e. symptomatic):

1. They must be advised to follow the NHS advice.

2. You should also:

• Inform your Manager immediately to seek further advice.

• If a face-to-face visit is deemed necessary, then undertake a full risk assessment in collaboration with your manager and in line with the decision flowchart at the end of this guidance. PPE will be required if close personal contact is required (e.g. bathing, washing or being within 1m distance with a person who has symptoms).

• If a face-to-face visit is not deemed necessary at this stage contact with the person can be maintained by telephone or online.

PPE guidance for frontline staff
PPE guidance

More guidance on PPE for residential living, supported living and home care here.