Welcome Guest! The IOSH forums are a free resource to both members and non-members. Login or register to use them

Postings made by forum users are personal opinions. IOSH is not responsible for the content or accuracy of any of the information contained in forum postings. Please carefully consider any advice you receive.

Notification

Icon
Error

Options
Go to last post Go to first unread
SeanM Sweeney  
#1 Posted : 23 March 2020 21:52:57(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
SeanM Sweeney

Hi all

We are debating the term "essential" at work e.g. if the building is closed to users and government's advice says only go to work if absolutley necessary, e.g. what does that mean for water testing for legionella? Do we go in weekly to flush or carry out a full risk assessment regime when we reopen?

How are others defining/approaching this?

Sean

thanks 1 user thanked SeanM Sweeney for this useful post.
Kim Hedges on 24/03/2020(UTC)
ttxela  
#2 Posted : 24 March 2020 09:15:04(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
ttxela

Originally Posted by: SeanM Sweeney Go to Quoted Post

Hi all

We are debating the term "essential" at work e.g. if the building is closed to users and government's advice says only go to work if absolutley necessary, e.g. what does that mean for water testing for legionella? Do we go in weekly to flush or carry out a full risk assessment regime when we reopen?

How are others defining/approaching this?

Sean

I'm hoping our management will adopt a sensible stance and finally close the building, we're already only on a skeleton crew but because the areas they ue and times they attend are unpredictable I am keeping the entire building running as normal at great cost for the use it's being put to.

No-one is going to completely abandon buildings for 3 weeks, I suspect a weekly maintenance visit would cover most things.

thanks 3 users thanked ttxela for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 24/03/2020(UTC), Kim Hedges on 24/03/2020(UTC), SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
Roundtuit  
#3 Posted : 24 March 2020 09:26:55(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

In property management empty buildings are typically visited every two weeks to check for damage/break-in, read the meters and where appropriate run the water systems.

thanks 2 users thanked Roundtuit for this useful post.
Kim Hedges on 24/03/2020(UTC), SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
Zyggy  
#4 Posted : 24 March 2020 12:56:09(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Zyggy

Sean, I have just taken a call from the Head of Facilities at one of my clients to inform me that two of his maintenance workers visiting a closed building were sent away by a passing police vehicle!

As a result he is having to put together a letter to show any other officer of why they are there, hopefully after consulting a senior police officer who we can then add his/her weight to it!

I have already been asked if my role in H&S is designated as essential & at the moment I don't have a definitive answer.

Edited by user 24 March 2020 12:58:35(UTC)  | Reason: Typo

thanks 2 users thanked Zyggy for this useful post.
Kim Hedges on 24/03/2020(UTC), SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
CptBeaky  
#5 Posted : 24 March 2020 12:58:27(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
CptBeaky

Basically we are all just guessing. thankfully our plant has had their hand forced due to our main supplier closing, along with our main customer

thanks 2 users thanked CptBeaky for this useful post.
Kim Hedges on 24/03/2020(UTC), SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
OliverWallace  
#6 Posted : 24 March 2020 15:15:28(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
OliverWallace

thanks 1 user thanked OliverWallace for this useful post.
SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
OliverWallace  
#7 Posted : 24 March 2020 15:19:06(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
OliverWallace

You could always decontaminate the water system upon your return. Chlorination will work. Or if you have to wait for a contractor make sure you thoroughly flush all the systems. 

Originally Posted by: SeanM Sweeney Go to Quoted Post

Hi all

We are debating the term "essential" at work e.g. if the building is closed to users and government's advice says only go to work if absolutley necessary, e.g. what does that mean for water testing for legionella? Do we go in weekly to flush or carry out a full risk assessment regime when we reopen?

How are others defining/approaching this?

Sean



thanks 2 users thanked OliverWallace for this useful post.
Kim Hedges on 24/03/2020(UTC), SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
Kate  
#8 Posted : 24 March 2020 16:07:41(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kate

The current new restrictions do only affect businesses on that list, however every responsible business will be doing what it reasonably can to protect its staff, its visitors and the public.  Some offices are closed, many people are working from home (in line with government guidance that employers should facilitate this), different working methods are being adopted, etc.  The extent of this will depend on the nature of the business, office based activities obviously being very different from manufacturing.

The question is, which things are important enough for someone to come in and do - or to do at all.  My employer has, in my view correctly for our particular circumstances, approached this by identifying a handful of staff who will still come in to do hands-on work, while everyone else has to stay away and apply for permission if there is a job they think merits them coming in, in which case social distancing rules apply.  Whether a job is important enough to come in for is going to depend on the business case for doing it including the risk of not doing it. I ain't coming in to test the fire alarm given the very low fire risk in our current circumstances (in some premises this assessment would of course be different).

In the particular case of legionella flushing, well I would say it would depend on the legionella risk in your system.  Is it to building occupants only or also to the general public, for example.  I would also consider whether cooling towers can be shut down, water outlets taken out of use etc to reduce the immediate risk with a plan to clean the system out thoroughly once needed again.

In other words, boringly, I am saying it is down to risk assessment and it will be different for different businesses.  But I agree it would be useful for those of us in similar situations to compare notes.

thanks 2 users thanked Kate for this useful post.
Kim Hedges on 24/03/2020(UTC), SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
hopeful  
#9 Posted : 24 March 2020 16:59:19(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
hopeful

We have closed our offices and there will be no inspections or checks. We have developed an opening checklist which will include hot flush throughs, flushing the system etc for Legionella management.

thanks 2 users thanked hopeful for this useful post.
Kim Hedges on 24/03/2020(UTC), SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
Accidentia  
#10 Posted : 24 March 2020 21:07:37(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Accidentia

The FIA has obtained some useful guidance from the Home Office on what constitutes 'essential' work and 'key workers' see:

https://www.fia.uk.com/news/fia-assured-by-home-office-that-personnel-responding-to-failures-of-fire-protection-systems-are-definitely-designated-as-key-workers.html

thanks 1 user thanked Accidentia for this useful post.
SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
AcornsConsult  
#11 Posted : 24 March 2020 22:07:25(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
AcornsConsult

Government can't define every role and permutation.  If I asked myself visit essential? Then most likely isn't. And if you test I like that, most times you get a fair and likely appropriate answer 

thanks 2 users thanked AcornsConsult for this useful post.
Kim Hedges on 24/03/2020(UTC), SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
Kim Hedges  
#12 Posted : 24 March 2020 22:33:11(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kim Hedges

This is a good forums question :)  I suppose will somebody die or could be injured or can you prevent suffering an pain or place somebody into care or look after somebodies welfare or conduct a funeral or give solace if you don't do your work, provide basic maintenance, police, fire, ambulance, NHS, Coroners teams.  

The armed forces both Regular and Territorials will be travelling too. 

So all the above Teir one and everyone below Tier two. 

Keyholders for buildings, may need to be called in, I hope they have spare keys, the scum that are the criminal element of society must view the lock down as an extended Christmas period. 

Legionella maybe reduced by draining the pipework, but that will take time, it might be easier for temporary once a week visits, just to keep things ticking over including checking fire alarm systems and bank vaults, so 1 or 2 maintenance people.   

Chemical production, power stations, fuel services, road emergency patrols (RAC), Social Services, Waste and Recycling teams, train drivers, bus drivers, truck drivers, van drivers, logistics teams.  

Everyone else, if your not on the list, close it down and go home.

I've seen some news today, Construction should stop dead, basic duty of care.  

Edited by user 24 March 2020 22:55:09(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

thanks 1 user thanked Kim Hedges for this useful post.
SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
Messey  
#13 Posted : 25 March 2020 06:11:11(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Messey

For me, I will NOT be reviewing and compiling new fire risk assesments, fire training, building control consultation and all project work. In addition, weekly fire tests will be now carried out monthly and various other changes to maintenance procedures have been made, in the main to extend the frequency of testing.

My role now is 98% crisis management. Most of the ususal crisis management team are off self isolating (and 2 have symptoms so are off sick) so my ususual peripheral role in the team has been extended.

My employers provide a critical role in keeping UK PLC running. We cannot close, but have reduced activites significantly with perhaps 70% of staff now absent. Some in line with HM Govt policy and others as our policy of self isolation extends to staff that live with vunerable persons.

We are discussing today trimming the crisis management group further, but we are already working extended hours under significant stress, so I am not sure how that will work. I was hoping that some colleagues self isolating would be back to work soon and reducing our burden 

I have worked dealing with emergencies of various types for 40+ years. I have been places, seen things and been in dangerous environments many times. But nothing has prepared me on a personal level for the activities I am engaged in now. I am mentally exhausted and seem to go to bed with my head spinning and wake up with a stress type head and neck ache. But how many workers are in the same position, whther they are working or laid off without pay? Unprecedented seems too small a word to describe what we are all going through so I feel guilty grumbling 

My employers are doing all they can to protect us physically, but the control measure of using such a small team under pressure for 10 to 12 hour days is waring us down and I will be making my view known loud and clear today. Most crisis management incidents last from a few hours to a few days. This is going to go on for months and we will not be able to keep up this pace just because what we do is critical for the UK. 

thanks 2 users thanked Messey for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 25/03/2020(UTC), SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
Sowerbutts24745  
#14 Posted : 25 March 2020 08:28:21(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Sowerbutts24745

I am so angry about the fact that work is being allowed to continue in one of the most likely breeding environments for Coronavirus that there could be.

The construction sites that I visited last week (before the latest advice) varied so much in cleanliness and hygiene, and even information for workers. They were likely breeding grounds for infection – virtually all over. Even those trying to do regular cleans and provide sanitisers couldn’t do it everywhere. Construction is almost the most likely environment for spreading this disease, as its hygiene and welfare standards are every time - yes every time - below those of employers in a fixed workplace. Shared toilets, locker-rooms, offices, workspaces, security turnstiles, signing in books, rest rooms, food-preparation surfaces - and not cleaned like you’d have in a restaurant, cafe or pub. (Separation isn't possible when its a 2 person job! such as lifting a lintel or passing up scaffolding to an upper lift).

It’s also almost a perfect mixing ground. New contractors come each day and go back to their families – and maybe go to a different site tomorrow. It’s sheer madness for construction sites to be kept open in the current climate

- Bill Sowerbutts, Fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health, CMIOSH - Health and Safety Advisor in Construction for 25 years.

thanks 4 users thanked Sowerbutts24745 for this useful post.
nic168 on 25/03/2020(UTC), RVThompson on 25/03/2020(UTC), A Kurdziel on 25/03/2020(UTC), SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
Highpants  
#15 Posted : 25 March 2020 09:10:11(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Highpants

I couldnt agree with Soerbutts more, how is Construction work being allowed to continue, it has to be major financial reason, it is absolute madness, these sites are the worst possible place. We currently have some Operatives working on a site where there is a mix or staff from all over the north west of England, 500 in total, the vast majority of the guys dont want to be there but at present they have to go in. It is impossible to keep any reasonable distance between the workers. I can remember about 2 years ago on a site we were invoplved with where a couple of Operatives developed Flu straight after the Christmas break and within a few days of the first week back there were at least 15-20 people off with the Flu, so al in al the fact these sites are still open is absoluitely crazy to say the least.

thanks 1 user thanked Highpants for this useful post.
SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
A Kurdziel  
#16 Posted : 25 March 2020 09:36:53(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

There is lots of contradictory advice out with one minster saying that construction should stop and another saying it can continue if social distancing is being practiced. One says those who can’t work from home should go to work to keep the country going and others saying only essential work should carry on but with no clarity as to what is essential work.

Business would like to carry on and would be loath to completely shut down. They would like to keep a skeleton crew on at least to keep the buildings etc safe and secure. But is that essential as per government requirements?

On Thursday the police will be given powers to stop non-essential travel etc. Have they been told what they should be doing or will it be down to their “discretion”. I can imagine people being arrested just for trying to do their job!

thanks 1 user thanked A Kurdziel for this useful post.
SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
Xavier123  
#17 Posted : 25 March 2020 11:44:19(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Xavier123

'the single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives'

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others

If you take that as your steer whilst considering 'essentialness' of the work and any risk assessment undertaken at this time then you'll probably end up in roughly the right place. The Government are painfully unclear on the detail but the spirit is surely that 'essential' be regarded in the public interest, not the private.

thanks 1 user thanked Xavier123 for this useful post.
SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
Kate  
#18 Posted : 25 March 2020 12:04:45(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kate

To me,  fulfilling customer orders is a valid reason to continue work where this hasn't been expressly prohibited and can be done safely (with distancing and hygiene measures etc).

The private interest is often in the public interest - if businesses go under their employees lose their jobs and everyone suffers.

thanks 3 users thanked Kate for this useful post.
knotty on 25/03/2020(UTC), A Kurdziel on 25/03/2020(UTC), SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
A Kurdziel  
#19 Posted : 25 March 2020 15:13:29(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

The Scots seem to have gotten their act together better than our government

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-52017771

thanks 1 user thanked A Kurdziel for this useful post.
SeanM Sweeney on 25/03/2020(UTC)
SeanM Sweeney  
#20 Posted : 25 March 2020 18:03:30(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
SeanM Sweeney

Thanks all, that has been really helpful in deciding our policy and practice. 

Risks assesed against "so far as is reasonably practicable" and our action plan is in place.

I worked in the emergency servcies for over 30 years and like @Messey this far outsrtips any of the critical incidents I had to deal with.

​​​​​​​Anyway, keep on keeping on and see you all on the other side.

SeanM Sweeney  
#21 Posted : 25 March 2020 18:07:37(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
SeanM Sweeney

Thanks all, that has been really helpful in deciding our policy and practice. 

Risks assesed against "so far as is reasonably practicable" and our action plan is in place.

I worked in the emergency services for over 30 years and like @Messey this far outstrips any of the critical incidents I had to deal with.

Anyway, keep on keeping on and see you all on the other side.

Edited by user 25 March 2020 18:09:03(UTC)  | Reason: spelling

Kim Hedges  
#22 Posted : 25 March 2020 19:00:14(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kim Hedges

Good forum posting.  I'm on a facebook group called lever pullers, which is all construction trade people mostly connected with the crane industry and machines that have levers, like excavators and mewps and what not. 

It's been quite heated in the debates, basically, the self employed and  that's about 5 million people, are split into 2 camps, those that are at home and those that can't afford to go home. 

Hopefully, the Government will be giving new hope tomorrow with a package for the self employed, watch this space. 

Roundtuit  
#23 Posted : 25 March 2020 19:51:26(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Don't ask Donald.

Actually what has happened with the staff from his Scottish golfing and other UK interests?

Should HM Gov be funding the business interests of non-nationals particularly the leader of a party whose members have just been accused of insider trading on their national stock market exploiting information about Covid-19?

thanks 2 users thanked Roundtuit for this useful post.
Kim Hedges on 25/03/2020(UTC), nic168 on 26/03/2020(UTC)
Users browsing this topic
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.