Severn Waste Services – COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Procedure
Severn Waste is committed to the health and safety of its employees. The Coronavirus has the potential to affect how employees go about their day to day life, including work and also to how the Company operates within the wider community. The purpose of this document is to give guidance to managers on what action should be taken in the event that Coronavirus is identified within the organisation. The government guidance is subject to change to reflect the nature of the spread and development of the threat. This document will be updated as advice is amended by government.
This guidance applies to all permanent and temporary employees of the Company, contractors, officers, consultants, casual workers, agency workers, and any other individuals working at the Company premises. References to Statutory Sick Pay and other company procedures, such as absence reporting would apply to permanent staff.
Current Government Guidance
On 23rd March 2020 the government introduced stricter controls to reduce the spread of coronavirus and protect the NHS and to save lives by staying at home. When day-to-day contact with other people is reduced, the spread of the infection will reduce. That is why the Government has introduced these new measures.
Advice is that people should only leave the house for one of four reasons:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
- any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
- travelling to and from work, but only where you cannot work from home.
The Waste Industry has been confirmed as a critical sector. However, where possible we would encourage employees to work from home, unless it is impossible for them to do so.
Sometimes this will not be possible, as not everyone can work from home. Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance if they operate machinery, are drivers or working within a facility.
For this purpose, letters have been issued to provide employees with proof of employment within the Waste industry, should the government enforce further restrictions on movement.
Current government guidance states that there is currently no vaccine to prevent Coronavirus. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Public Health England (PHE) recommends that the following precautions are taken to help prevent people from catching and spreading Coronavirus
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. See Catch it, Bin it, Kill it
- put used tissues in the bin straight away
- wash your hands, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water regularly. Especially when you get to home or work. – Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. See hand washing guidance
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces regularly
- do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth
Any employees who are worried about symptoms should use the online NHS111 service (https://111.nhs.uk/) or call NHS 111. Government advice is not to go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment.
Signs and symptoms of Coronavirus
Based on current evidence, Coronavirus presents with flu-like symptoms including:
- difficulty breathing (shortness of breath)
- a fever (feeling hot or feverish or as measured by a doctor or nurse)
The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild.
Government advice is that anyone who feels unwell with these symptoms, however mild should remain at home for 7 days please see attached COVID-19: stay at home guidance.
If an employee or a member of their household have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. Usual absence procedure and contractual rules for SSP and Company Sick Pay will apply.
Working from home
Where possible, we will consider if an employee can work from home during self-isolation. Where no other agreement is made this time off work will be treated in accordance with our normal sickness absence policy and contractual sick pay rules will apply.
If an employee becomes unwell at work
If an employee becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in the business or workplace they should be sent home and advised to follow the stay at home guidance.
If they need clinical advice, they should go online to NHS 111 or call 111 if they don’t have internet access. In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell with symptoms consistent with coronavirus infection.
Government advice is at present, that it is not necessary to close the business or workplace or send any staff home.
As further precautions while the employee is in the workplace when they become ill;
- The unwell person should be removed to an area 2 metres away from others, such as a first aid room or a room where they can be isolated.
- They should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects
- Be advised to cover mouth and nose with a disposal tissue should they cough or sneeze
- Employees will be asked if they have been abroad to an at-risk area, have been in contact with a suspected or confirmed case of the Coronavirus or are having symptoms.
- Employees will be asked which sites/employees they have been in contact with during the last three days
- Ensure that once the unwell person has left that the area is cleaned and disinfected
- The unwell person should then self-isolate for 7 days following onset of symptoms
Cleaning/disinfection of shared equipment
Equipment that is used by other people for example PWS, radios, telephones, shared computer equipment should be cleaned each time after individual use with either a damp soapy cloth, antibacterial wipes (containing at least 60% alcohol) or anti-bacterial gel (containing at least 60% alcohol). Further guidance on cleaning regimes will sent to sites.
Vehicles should similarly be cleaned with each change of driver/crew (steering wheel, handbrakes, controls, door handles etc. In the situation where a confirmed case has been in the workplace, Severn Waste will take all advice from the PHE local Health Protection Team (HPT). If employees would like to take further measures in the meantime paper suits, gloves are available for those employees cleaning communal areas and bleach/disinfectant is readily available
Procedure for employees who suspect they may have Coronavirus or need to self-isolate
- Follow existing absence procedure and make a phone call at least one hour before work, it is important that employees call and speak to their supervisor or manager to be able to accurately give information on their case
- The employee should be advised to contact the online service NHS111 (https://111.nhs.uk/ ) or call NHS 111 and follow guidance
- Provide a self-isolation note https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note
If an employee needs time off work to look after dependants
Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a 'dependant') in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations to do with Coronavirus. For example, if they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed. This leave is unpaid.
The amount of time off an employee takes to look after someone must be reasonable for the situation. For example, they might take 2 days off to start with, and if more time is needed, they can book holiday.
If a dependant such as a partner, child or relative in the same household gets coronavirus symptoms, everyone in the household must self-isolate for 14 days and they should receive statutory sick pay as a minimum for this time.
Employees may have pre-booked holidays, which will have been cancelled by your tour operator. Please speak to your manager regarding cancelling annual leave. Government advise that travel abroad is cancelled unless unavoidable. If you have to travel abroad please notify your manager
Older employees or employees with underlying health problems
The government are advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. Employees who are over 70 or under 70 with an underlying health condition (i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant
These employees are advised to limit face-to-face interaction and if possible self-isolate to ensure their health is not compromised. Employees are strongly advised to social distance where able. Normal sick pay rules will apply for self-isolation.
The NHS are intending to contact anyone they consider high risk by Sunday 29th March 2020 for further guidance on self-isolation/social distancing. People are asked not to contact their GP or healthcare team at this stage – wait to be contacted. But those who consider themselves high risk who haven’t heard by Sunday 29th March are advised to contact NHS 111.
Anyone who has concerns about whether they should be at work due to underlying health complaints or age are advised to call NHS 111 for further guidance. If employees are asked to self isolate long term, then normal sick pay rules will apply
Meetings and employee gatherings
Face to face meetings should not take place unless absolutely necessary. Please use alternatives. If face to face is absolutely necessary then distance protocols should be put in place such as keeping approximately 2 metres distance between each person, no shaking hands, bodily contact or sharing of equipment such as telephones, pens or keyboards.
Movement between sites
Keep internal travel to a minimum and strictly follow the guidelines on hand washing upon arriving and leaving site, keeping distance and not sharing equipment unless absolutely necessary and ensuring it is cleaned each time.
Payment for self-Isolation
Usual absence procedure and contractual rules for SSP and Company Sick Pay will apply. Employees and workers must receive as a minimum, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them if they need to self-isolate from day one, because:
- they have coronavirus
- they have coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature or new continuous cough
- someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms
- they've been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111
If someone has symptoms, everyone in their household must self-isolate for 14 days. Those who live alone must self-isolate for 7 days.
Employees not eligible to receive sick pay, including those earning less than an average of £118 per week, are able to claim Universal Credit and or contributory Employment and Support Allowance. For those on a low income and already claiming Universal Credit, it is designed to automatically adjust depending on people’s earnings or other income.
The Government have now activated the online portal in order for affected employees to document any self-isolation periods. This can be found at https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note. This can be emailed to the Company directly.