In light of the COVID-19 crisis the Trust is committed to protecting our staff, volunteers and other people we work with, and to playing our part in managing the current situation. As such this procedure and associated documentation has been created in order to protect staff, volunteers, visitors and contractors the country moves through the pandemic. We understand that people have concerns and the Trust will not expect any staff or volunteers to undertake activities that put them at unreasonable risk, or that causes them stress or anxiety as a result of COVID-19. The Trust’s policy and procedures are regularly reviewed and are subject to change due to any imposed lockdowns or changes to the tier system and its restrictions.
Working from home
The Trust continues to promote working at home for its staff where reasonable and practical to do so. DSE and home working assessments must be completed by staff and results discussed with managers.
Everyone needs to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19. As an employer WWT has a legal responsibility to protect its staff and volunteers from risks to their health and safety. This procedure should be used in conjunction with the COVID-19 Policy, Risk Assessment and Safe systems of work to ensure that we all collectively think about the risks we may face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.
Where is the risk?
People may be at risk of exposure to COVID-19 as a result of our work, either by direct contamination by others or from encountering contaminated surfaces, equipment or material at our places of work or on nature reserves.
All of our nature reserves are fully open to the public (unless decisions are taken to close them in line with further national lockdowns) and we cannot control access, therefore they have the potential to be a source of direct contamination to staff, volunteers and other members of the public who access these reserves in order to undertake their work. People visiting the car park, toilets, shop, café and visitor centre in order to enjoy the facilities we provide cannot be identified, numbered or categorised in relation to their level of vulnerability. As hosts all we can do is put in place organisation and operational systems to ‘manage’ risk. We also undertake a wide variety of work on other people’s land and have a duty of care to consider that as well. The Trust will implement the government Track and Trace system at its premises where hospitality is provided i.e. the café.
Who is at risk?
The following people may be at risk of exposure to COVID-19 as a result of our work, either by direct contamination by others or from encountering contaminated surfaces, equipment or material:
Contractors working on our behalf
General public accessing our nature reserves
General public accessing our Visitor Centres
Personal contacts (e.g. colleagues from partner organisations, landowners, etc.)
Control and mitigation of risks
This is covered broadly in our Policy and you should refer to this in regards to how the Trust will approach the control and mitigation of risk in relation to COVID-19
Other Health and Safety systems
It is important to review other current risk assessments, safe systems of work and procedures to ensure that changes in practices to address the COVID-19 crisis do not negatively impact existing safety.
In applying this guidance, people should be mindful of the particular needs of different groups of workers or individuals. It is breaking the law to discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, sex or disability.
In an emergency, for example, an accident, fire or break-in, people do not have to stay 2m apart if it would be unsafe or to preserve life. People involved in the provision of assistance to others should pay particular attention to sanitation measures immediately afterwards including washing hands.
In first aid incidents, given that employees or volunteers must not attend work when showing symptoms of COVID-19 plus accidents and incidents should be no more prevalent or serious than in normal working conditions, all employees and volunteers should ensure that they are comfortable with the first aid provision and potential need to treat another person to preserve life. First aid works on the basis that infection transmission should be nil in ordinary circumstances so wear necessary PPE when administering treatment and if required undertake CPR in line with the Resuscitation Council UK guidance which can be found here: https://www.resus.org.uk/covid-19-resources/covid-19-resources-general-public/resuscitation-council-uk-statement-covid-19
If you are uncertain about whether any activity or situation is compliant please contact a member of SMT before assuming it is safe. If you are undertaking a new activity or travelling to a new location that you have not completed a safe system of work for, this must be approved by a member of SMT before that activity is undertaken.
Breach of the policy (outside an emergency) may lead to disciplinary action.
- Employees and volunteers are to read and understand the COVID-19 policy and the COVID-19 risk assessment.
- Employees are to use the Safe System of Work to ensure risk assessment is adhered to and is created personally for them and agree that all controls are realistic and in place with their line manager
- A record of that Safe System of Work to be uploaded to Breathe HR and reviewed when any situation changes i.e. undertaking a different task or in light of any national guidance changes relating to the pandemic that may affect the employee or volunteers
- Personal welfare resources are obtained and each staff member (where required) should ensure that they have access to the appropriate facilities, products and cleaning materials – including disposal bags. Lead staff will provide these to volunteers.
- Staff are to use the systems and processes put in place by the Trust i.e. booking systems and must undertake any training required to be able to use the systems implemented
- A review of the Safe System of Work should be undertaken when any change is anticipated within the employees work environment, responsibilities or role
- Employees are required to ensure they read and understand any updates or reviews in the policy, procedure and risk assessment as and when they are issued or occur
- Specific procedures and protocols may be devised for different aspects of the Trust, its operation and premises i.e. visitor centres – however this must be under the lead of the risk assessment and be agreed by the H&S Committee of the Trust
- For volunteering a specific procedure has been created for the return of volunteers to both volunteer-led groups and staff-led groups. All staff and volunteers must liaise with the Volunteer Coordinator regarding these procedures to ensure compliance.
COVID-19 Incidents and Reporting
Employees and volunteers must be aware of the new guidance from the HSE that clarifies the limited conditions under which an employer should notify the HSE in relation to COVID-19:
1. an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence; or
2. a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
In regards to the Trust, if we implement the policy and risk assessment this should not occur, but demonstrates also a level of responsibility of employees who may exhibit symptoms or are confirmed to have COVID-19 to follow the government guidance.