GETTING BACK TO BUSINESS SAFELY DURING THE COVID19 PANDEMIC
Coalesce has always operated as a remote working company, except where site visits to cover events and shoots were necessary. As per the Government’s ‘Stay at Home’ strategy in the battle against Covid 19, Coalesce had ceased attending client sites and changed it’s trading methods to enable it’s staff to shoot video remotely and also review remote possibilities for clients who needed photography. In 2020 as the Government had started to reopen the economy Coalesce had reviewed it’s Working Safely with Covid Protocol with a view to attending client sites again.
Covid 19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. it is caused by a virus called Corona Virus Covid 19. Over 98 million people worldwide have contracted the virus and more than 2.12 million people have died from the disease. On the island of Ireland we have had more than 2900 deaths despite significant restrictive measures being put in place in the population and the closure of schools, colleges and businesses. The pandemic has had an effect on all businesses including public relations and all related events.
The aim of this document is to consolidate the detailed plans and significant measures being put in place by Coalesce management to assist with the safe re-opening and running of the business while maintaining the safety and welfare of colleagues, business partners and clients. This document in conjunction with the HSA return to work safely templates and the Coalesce risk assessment document forms Coalesce’s ‘Getting Back to Business Safely Plan.
The Government of Ireland have issued a specific ‘Work Safely Protocol’ requiring each organisation to put in place a ‘Covid 19 business Response Plan’ including specifics on how to reopen safely and the various measures being put in place to safeguard employees and the public. This baseline document aims to address that need in conjunction with policies and procedures being put in place by group management and may be updated using version control as public health or the government provides updated advice.
About Corona Virus Covid 19
Infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 can cause illness, ranging from mild to severe, and, in some cases, can be fatal. It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show. They can be similar to symptoms of cold and flu. Common symptoms of coronavirus include:
• a fever (high temperature - 38 degrees Celsius or above). • a new cough - this can be any kind of cough, not just dry. • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties. • loss or change in 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.
If you have any common symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus), self-isolate (stay in your room) and phone your family doctor straight away to see if you need a COVID-19 test.
Other people in your household will need to restrict their movements (stay at home). Getting an early diagnosis means, you can get the help you need and take steps to avoid spreading the virus, if you have it.
You can get COVID-19 if you come into close contact with someone who has the virus.
COVID-19 is mainly spread through close contact and droplets that come from your nose and mouth. For example, from someone who is talking loudly, shouting, coughing or sneezing. This happens most when people are less than 2 metres from each other. It is why keeping a 2-metre distance from other people is so effective in reducing the spread of the virus.
You can also get the virus from surfaces. For example, when someone who has the virus sneezes or coughs, droplets with the virus can fall onto surfaces around them. If you touch that surface and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you could become infected too.
Airborne transmission is the spread of a virus in very tiny respiratory particles. This can happen over a longer distance and persist for a longer time than droplets, such as within a room. Airborne transmission does not appear to play a major role in the spread of COVID-19. However, it can happen in some situations. To minimise this risk, keep indoor spaces well ventilated (aired out) by opening windows and doors if possible.
COVID-19 (coronavirus) can survive: • up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel • less than 4 hours on copper • less than 24 hours on cardboard Common household disinfectants will kill the virus on surfaces.
Clean the surface first and then use a disinfectant. A system of thorough and regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces in the workplace is essential. For example, vending machines, coffee machines and door handles should all be cleaned frequently, as they can be particular sources of transmission. If disinfection is required, it must be performed in addition to cleaning, never as a substitute for cleaning.
Current information suggests that infected people can transmit the virus both when they are symptomatic (showing symptoms) and asymptomatic (showing no symptoms). This is why it is essential that anyone who is showing symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, or anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed case, should be tested.
Research has also now identified specific types of working environments where the spread of COVID-19 is more likely to occur, often due to environmental factors. For example, there have been reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in some closed space settings, such as meat processing plants, nightclubs, places of worship, restaurants, and workplaces where people may be shouting or talking loudly.
In these outbreaks, airborne transmission (specifically in indoor locations that are densely populated and inadequately ventilated) cannot be ruled out. In these high-risk environments, a greater level of adherence by employers and workers to the specific public health advice for such settings is required.
Covid -19 Response Team
A Covid Response Team was put in place at Coalesce. The Covid Response Management Coordinator for the group is Orla Murray (Group HR team) supported by Shane O’ Neill and Grainne Doyne. Orla is responsible for managing compliance across the company however this does not substitute the personal responsibility of creative business partners and members of the platform.
Training on the requirements and special measures for returning to work safely will be provided. Training in the use of PPE will take place online through WHO and HSE training presentations. Staff members will also complete the certified HSA online course ‘Return to Work Safely Induction’. Lead worker representative Orla Murray will complete the HSA ‘Lead Worker’ course
All staff and business partners will be required to engage with these training sessions before they can return to work at client sites and complete a return to work form before recommencing jobs. Staff and business partners will also have to maintain their contact tracing logs and submit them on request to the HSE if an outbreak is identified.
COVID-19 Return to Work Form To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, every worker or creative partner must complete and sign a Covid- 19 Return to Work form before returning to work or attending a client site. On review of the form, management may contact you and ask you not to return to work or attend the client site immediately and will discuss a suitable future date for your return.
Coalesce has engaged in many discussions and brainstorming activities to come up with a detailed plan to resume safely returning to work. In order to safely return to work and ensure compliance with the government directives the Coalesce business was broken down into 3 main scenarios for review and assessment.
• Scenario 1 – Work from Home (employees only)
• Scenario 2 - Jobs outdoors
• Scenario 3 – Jobs onsite or at location
Each scenario was reviewed in the context of their current arrangements or processes, risks identified and controls or changes to the processes that should be undertaken to mitigate the risks.
As Covid-19 is a new virus to humans with little scientific publication and severity of the illness can range from mild to death the risks could not be adequately assessed for likelihood of transmission and severity. Therefore, the risk identification tool used does not include an analysis component. Instead, the risks identified have been based on known potential for transmission and non-compliance with current Public health advice, e.g. physical distancing.
A hierarchy of controls have been considered in each instance in accordance with the table below:
1st Tier Remote Working – where possible and prioritising staff with health or age-related factor making them vulnerable
2nd Tier Physical Distancing – 2m distance between parties in addition to physical and procedural protective measures
3rd Tier Where tier 1 or 2 is not possible practice the use of PPE and minimising in the time spent in close contact with an individual.
Risk Assessment Strategy
Coalesce has adopted a risk management strategy to identify and assess risks of transmission within our process. The main steps of our Corona Virus Covid-19 Risk Assessment programme include;
1. Risk identification: Risk Identification is performed by examining the facilities and processes in place through the use of visual inspection, brainstorming and the study of operational procedures and documentation. To facilitate the identification of these risks in some cases process flows have been devised and correlated with time.
2. Mitigation, Minimisation & Treatment of Risk: All risks identified will be considered so as to enhance our processes or environment and minimise potential transmission risks. There are three options for treating identified risks:
(1) Reduce the likelihood of the occurrence
(2) Reduce the impact of the occurrence by putting in place more controls or by modifying the process.
(3) Otherwise the risk could be eliminated by removing the source of the risk.
3. Training & Communication: Communication is critical to this risk assessment. While performing these assessments, the assessment team were provided with opportunity to feed into the risk assessment and identify and discuss the treatment options. The CEO and Director of Operations will ultimately sign-off on the risk assessment and measures being implemented to safeguard patients and staff.
4. Risk Monitoring: Monitoring and treatment of risks is an ongoing process to ensure that the risk level remains the same and that the controls implemented continue to be effective. As this is a new virus the information public health advice will change over time and therefore the risks will need to be reviewed regularly.
Risks are to be continually monitored as the business settles into the new procedures. Mitigation steps may not be sufficient in practice or may be considered unnecessary as other opportunities for process refinement are identified over time or as public health advice changes.
A contact tracing register and a return to work self-declaration form have been created. These will be used by all staff and business partners to log all contact and verify they are fit to work. The following controls have also been put in place and will be reviewed regularly. In the case of scenario 3 each event will be assessed separately to determine if further actions are required in addition to the actions below.
Scenario 1- Shared office space:
• All staff remote working • Meeting held via phone or online call • Contact log register filled out daily • Regular Hand washing
Scenario 2 - Jobs Outdoors
• Ensure social distancing can be maintained • Submission of F025 RTW Covid 19 form pre event by business partner. • Confirmation that F024 Contact Tracing Register is being maintained. • Do not share or pass equipment to anyone on site • Use private transport to attend site • Follow respiratory and good hand hygiene • Have a PPE and hygiene kit with you at all times. • Consider use of face mask in line with Government guidelines if the out door site is busy or congested. • Disinfect equipment after each event or if the equipment is handled by anyone else on site
Scenario 3- Jobs on Client sites:
• Submission of F025 RTW Covid 19 form pre event by business partner. • Confirmation that F024 Contact Tracing Register is being maintained. • New Covid-19 booking procedure, pre planning for;
Identify entry and exit points
Identify Touch points Discuss setup of the shoot Discuss number of people on site
Manage the flow of people. Assess need for PPE.
• Consideration of client Covid- 19 protocols in relation to planning the booking. • Hand washing facilities • Have a PPE and hygiene kit with you at all times. • Use of face mask in line with Government guidelines especially if the site is busy or congested. • Use private transport to attend site. • Understand protocol if symptomatic on client site. • Disinfect equipment after each event or if the equipment is handled by anyone else on site
Coalesce has committed to make as many changes as required to meet the return to work protocol issued by our governing bodies. We will also monitor any new procedures implemented to ensure they are fit for purpose and make amendments where required and ensure that these controls are communicated to our staff and clients.