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 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
Current government guidance is to control the virus we must all be alert, this means
- stay at home as much as possible
- work from home if you can
- limit contact with other people
- keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
- wash your hands regularly
- Self-isolate and do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
NHS test and trace service
On 28th May 2020 the government launched The NHS test and trace service which forms a central part of the government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery strategy, which seeks to help the nation return to normal as soon as possible for as many people as possible, in a way that is safe and protects the NHS and social care sector.
- provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus to find out if they have the virus
- gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had
- alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus
By following instructions to self-isolate, people who have had close recent contact with someone with coronavirus will be protecting their family, friends, colleagues and other people around them, and will play a direct role in stopping the spread of the virus.
Test & Trace - Part 1: for someone with symptoms of coronavirus
- isolate: as soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms, medical advice is clear: you must self-isolate for at least 7 days. Anyone else in your household must self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms
- test: order a test immediately at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access
- results: if your test is positive, you must complete the remainder of your 7-day self-isolation. Anyone in your household must also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to self-isolate
- share contacts: if you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS test and trace service will send you a text or email alert or call you with instructions of how to share details of people with whom you have had close, recent contact and places you have visited. It is important that you respond as soon as possible so that we can give appropriate advice to those who need it. You will be told to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by one of our contract tracers.
Test and Trace - Part 2: if you are contacted by the NHS test and trace service because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
- alert: you will be alerted by the NHS test and trace service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The alert will usually come by text, email or phone call. You should then log on to the NHS test and trace website, which is normally the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other – but, if not, a trained call handler will talk you through what you must do.
- isolate: you will be told to begin self-isolation for 14 days from your last contact with the person who has tested positive. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell because, if you have been infected, you could become infectious to others at any point up to 14 days. Your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you, if you do not have symptoms, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and handwashing and avoid contact with you at home
- test if needed: if you develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household must self-isolate immediately at home for 14 days and you must book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access. If your test is positive, you must continue to stay at home for at least 7 days and we will get in touch to ask about your contacts since they must self-isolate. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14-day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet - this is crucial to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
As a responsible employer we will continue to follow health and safety workplace guidance such as:
- making every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option
- where working from home isn’t possible, identifying sensible measures to control the risks in the workplace
- keeping the workplace clean, maintaining safe working separation, and preventing transmission through unnecessary touching of potentially contaminated surfaces
If an employee has been asked to self-isolate as part of the test and track service they will be entitled to their contractual sick pay or have the option to use paid leave days if they prefer.
Employees in self-isolation are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay for every day they are in isolation, as long as they meet the eligibility conditions.
The NHS test and trace service will provide a notification that can be used as evidence that someone has been told to self-isolate.
If multiple cases of coronavirus appear in a workplace, an outbreak control team from either the local authority or Public Health England will, if necessary, be assigned to help the employer manage the outbreak. Employers should seek advice from their local authority in the first instance.
The advice on social distancing measures applies to everyone and should be followed wherever possible. Workplaces need to avoid crowding and minimise opportunities for the virus to spread by maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres (3 steps) between individuals wherever possible. The Company understand how important it is to work safely and support your workers’ health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace. We have put in numerous measures across the business to keep employees safe, it is important that they are adhered to.
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, regularly and 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 professional.
Signs and symptoms of Coronavirus
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:
- high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.
Testing is now available for essential workers, which will confirm if self-isolation is necessary.
Current Government advice is that in the absence of a test result, anyone who feels unwell with these symptoms, however mild should remain at home for 7 days please see attached
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.
Testing will be available for anyone who have coronavirus-like symptoms to see if they currently have the virus.
This means essential workers can find out whether they have the virus, and help them return to work if they test negative. Testing is most effective within 3 days of symptoms developing.
How to arrange a test
Essential workers who are self-isolating can book a coronavirus test directly at; www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
Instructions on where and when to go for the test will be issued.
Waiting for results
If you develop symptoms, you may wish to alert the people with whom you have had close contact over the last 48 hours. You should tell them that you might have coronavirus but are waiting for a test result.
At this stage (until the test result is known), those people do not need to self-isolate, but they should take extra care in practising social distancing and good hygiene, like washing their hands regularly. They should also watch out for their own symptoms.
You may want to write down your recent close contacts now so that you have them to hand if you test positive.
The testing process
The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by the person themselves (self-administered) or by someone else (assisted) and aim to provide results within 48 hours for a swab test or 72 hours for a home testing kit.
If the test result turns out to be negative, it is safe to return to work, as long as:
- The individual feels well enough
- Not had a high temperature for 48 hours
- Everyone in the household also tests negative
If the test result is positive, or someone in the household tests positive, the employee cannot return to work. They will need to continue to self-isolate. Read NHS advice about how long to self-isolate.
If the condition gets worse, or the individual does not get better after 7 days, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. Only call 111 if you cannot get help online. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Working from home
Where possible, we will consider if an employee can work from home during this time. 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.
Entering or returning to the UK
From 8th June 2020, there will be new rules in place for entering the UK because of coronavirus (COVID-19). The rules are for residents and visitors.
When these rules are in place, if an employee has been abroad and returns to the UK they will need to:
- need to provide journey and contact details when arriving in to the UK
- not be allowed to leave the place they are staying for the first 14 days in the UK except in very limited situations (known as ‘self-isolating’)
Usual contractual sick pay rules will apply for this self-isolating
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.
They will need to book a coronavirus test directly at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
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 arrange a test and if necessary 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 NHS Coronavirus service www.nhs.uk/coronavirus to notify symptoms and book a test
- Provide a self-isolation note https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note if the test is positive and self-isolation is necessary
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. If you do need to travel abroad there will be a self-isolation period of 14 days when returning to UK.
Older employees or employees with underlying health problems
The government are advising those who are at increased risk of a more severe form of illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. This would include employees who are over 70 or those under 70 with an underlying health condition, such as those instructed to get a flu jab (as an adult) each year on medical grounds.
Employees in this group are strongly advised to social distance at all times. Normal sick pay rules will apply for self-isolation.
The government are strongly advising people with serious underlying health conditions (listed below), which puts them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) requiring admission to hospital, to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe. Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.
People falling into this extremely vulnerable group include:
- Solid organ transplant recipients.
- People with specific cancers or having chemotherapy
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
- People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
- People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
- Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
The NHS strongly advise these groups to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the date the letter is received or up to the end of June 2020, guidance will be updated before this time to advise on the next steps.
Anyone who has concerns about whether they should be classed as shielding due to underlying health complaints or age are advised to call their GP or NHS 111 for further guidance.
Employees are requested to provide a copy of the NHS shielding letter.
Family members who are shielding
If a member of the household is shielding, other members of the household are not required to adopt these protective shielding measures for themselves. They should do what they can to support shielding and they should stringently follow guidance on social distancing, reducing their contact outside the home.
Meetings and employee gatherings
Face to face meetings should not take place unless absolutely necessary. Please use alternatives such as Microsoft Teams. 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, NHS 111 or Test and Track
If someone has symptoms, they should apply for testing for themselves and their households and follow the self-isolation guidelines if they test positive.
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.
Employees will need to document any self-isolation periods. Self-isolation notes can be obtained from https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note. This can be emailed to the Company directly.