Updated: Apr 17, 2020
Are you employing more staff to help cope with demand during these trying times? Here's some things you may want to consider.
The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has caused a world-wide crisis amongst the population. Businesses are struggling in these trying times. However, others have seen an increased demand for their products and services.
Key workers are now operating across the following industries.
Packaging Manufacturing and Supply
Shop Workers and Warehouse Operatives
Manufacturing of Ventilators and Medical Equipment
PPE Manufacturers and Suppliers
National Health Service and Care Workers
Businesses have responded to the demand by scaling up their workforce. In this time of hardship, hitting this challenge head-on, meeting the demands of the nation, new staff will be taken on. These are tough times, that’s why we have put together a simple and effective checklist to help support and guide business owners and management in remaining ethical and compliant with health and safety law.
How Can You Develop a Suitable and Sufficient Onboarding Process and Maintain High Standards of Health and Safety?
1. Carry out a Baseline Assessment of Health
Baseline data can be used to measure against and any relevant deficiencies or changes in hearing or lung function. Health checks can also highlight pre-existing health conditions which may require special attention, such as a specific risk assessment and further preventative measures. Checks should be carried out for the following:
General Health Checks (Weight, Height, Fitness, Blood Pressure etc)
Employing a competent occupational health nurse to carry out these assessments is essential.
2. Undertake an Employee (New Starter Questionnaire)
From an occupational hygiene, health and safety perspective, it would be a great idea to get to know your new employee before you begin to make provisions for them. Questions can be asked to determine what PPE requirements the new worker has. For example:
What type of hearing protection is preferred? Disposable Ear Plugs Banded or Corded Ear Plugs, Earmuffs or Custom Moulded Plugs.
Is the worker willing to “clean shave” and adhere to the RPE policy? If clean shaving isn’t an option, what type of full-face RPE would suit?
What size PPE would the employee require.
At this point, the employer can make provisions to ensure comfortability.
Many businesses fall short of making suitable provisions for their employees.
"Research suggests that by taking the time to consider a worker’s comfort while undertaking their duties, can boost productivity and worker performance."
3. Undertake Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) Face-Fit-Testing
Operatives who require the use of RPE should undergo a suitable and sufficient face fit test in line with moral and legal obligations. A fit test is required for the use of Negative Pressure Orinasal devices.
Respirators where the air is up taken through a filtration device. (1/2 Face Respirators that are reusable or disposable). Figures 1,2 and 3 show the variants in RPE which operate a negative pressure system.
Air is not supplied, like with Breathing Air Systems and Battery Powered Full Face RPE. This is known as positive pressure RPE.
Employees identified as being suitable candidates for orinasal RPE will need to partake in an RPE fit test.
RPE fit tests can be carried out Qualitatively and/or Quantitatively. The tests should be carried out by a competent person.
Further information can be found in our recent article Selecting and Applying Respiratory Protective Equipment.
4. Provide Information, Instruction and Training
As new workers, informing of the hazards associated with their new role is a must. From an occupational hygiene perspective, provision of information about Chemical, Physical and Biological Agents is required under the law.
Substances Hazardous to Health (Chemical Agents)
· Dusts, Vapours, Fumes, Liquids likely to pose a risk to health through inhalation, injection, ingestion or absorption.
· Noise which is likely to pose a foreseeable risk to health and have a negative impact on hearing by causing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss.
· Vibration from tools, equipment and machinery likely to pose an increased risk to health through exposure. For example, Hand-arm Vibration and Whole-body Vibration
· Electromagnetic Fields which pose a risk to individuals who have a medical implant is pregnant or has an underlying health condition likely to put them at particular risk from exposure.
· Bacteria or viral exposures from bodily fluids, aerosols and general contact with infected people. Particularly across the NHS and Care Sectors.
Training could be provided to provide Information, Instruction and Training on the following:
The correct use, maintenance and storage of RPE.
The correct use, maintenance and possibly storage of LEV (If portable)
The onboarding process of a new worker should still remain an important factor during these trying times. Falling short from what is required of your business can still lead to shortfalls in moral and legal requirements.
Supporting and respecting workers as they begin their new journey with you and your business is sure to see you reap the benefits of making such provisions. A happier, healthier workforce that is respected will work harder, adhere to your policies and procedures, behave appropriately and help uphold your company values.
As the world stands together, let’s work together to help maintain the high standards of health and safety in the workplace and rise to the challenge of getting through this difficult time together.
"If you would like support with your onboarding system keep in mind that Workplace Scientifics can help you maintain the highest standards throughout by undertaking and supporting with the requirements outlined in this article. Please get in touch to see how we can offer you the support and guidance needed to ensure the health and safety of new employees when welcoming them to your business. "
(T) 01709 931299
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