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Finding Quality Staff In The Time Of Covid

Finding Quality Staff In The Time Of Covid

Now that Ireland is reaching the end of its second level 5 lockdown, we are all looking optimistically towards December. A month that should offer some relief with an end to the current restrictions.

Since the Covid 19 pandemic brought the country to a relative standstill in March, ASM has been contacted by candidates and clients alike who are worried about the impact on recruitment and hiring.

Our clients all ask the same thing – How can they find good people to hire during a global pandemic? We understand their concerns. In our many years in recruiting for Irish and International companies, we have never seen a market change so rapidly and dramatically as the Irish recruitment market has in 2020.

 

Where Have All The Candidates Gone?

 In March this year, when Irish schools and businesses started to close, the majority of companies across all sectors instinctively paused any and all hiring activity. In turn, this sent potential job candidates into panic mode. EHS, construction and engineering professionals that had been engaged in interview and onboarding processes with potential employers found themselves stuck in limbo as the processes came to an abrupt halt. Not knowing if the process would restart or if the job would cease to exist at all left them with few options to choose from. Those that had been job hunting saw a massive reduction in opportunities being offered by potential employers until the ‘new normal’ was better understood.

With so much uncertainty in the job market, people who were already employed have, for the most part, been hanging on with both hands to their existing roles, referring to stay with what they have rather than risk trying to move jobs at such an unstable time.

 

The Strength Of Reputation & Networks

What all candidates share in 2020 is an appetite for trust and certainty. That’s where we count ourselves lucky at ASM Group. As a business that has been developing relationships with key clients for almost 20 years, EHS, construction and engineering candidates know that we can be trusted to find great jobs (even in 2020!) and employers know that we can rely on our network to find the right candidate for their difficult to fill positions.

Throughout this year, no matter what level of lockdown the country was in, our team has stayed busy keeping in touch with our clients and helping them with their resourcing needs.  We’ve also been hard at work for our extensive network of candidates. From advising about the opportunities that are currently available to helping with CV updates and interview preparation and updating them about the market at large.

By staying in touch with people and staying at the forefront of everything that is happening, we have kept our network of professionals as strong as ever.  Knowing that we only work with reputable business organisations, our candidate network has continued to rely on us which means that we have been able to continue finding them great jobs.

 

Placing Passive Candidates

We often find, when we spot great candidates who we know are would be the perfect fit for one our client, that the candidates haven’t been considering moving roles. In these instances, we work with those candidates to help them understand their value and how making the right move to the right kind of business can transform their careers. It’s important to us at ASM that we help these candidates to optimise their career prospects to their full potential.

It helps that we have real relationships with our clients as this means that we can really help a passive candidate understand the type of employer we are talking to them about. One of the reasons that we build such sustainable relationships is so that we can offer accurate and transparent information to candidates. This level of knowledge is what brings people back to us time and again.

 

Flexible Placements On The Rise

Thanks to the flexible ways that ASM provides candidates, we have been able to adapt quickly to the changing needs of clients. With a rise in the numbers of employers moving to flexible working arrangements of varying types, we have been able to keep up with the demand to provide candidates for short term placements, contract positions, part-time and permanent solutions – with a strong database of active candidates for just that purpose.

At ASM Group we pride ourselves on the network we have built over the past 20 years, a network exclusive to ASM Group that allows us to offer truly specialist resourcing services  – even in a year like 2020! If you have any questions about hiring for EHS, construction or engineering roles, get in touch with us by calling +353(85)2642879 or email rnolan@asmgroup.ie

Construction Safety Week 2020 – Emergency Preparedness and Response

Construction Safety Week 2020 – Emergency Preparedness and Response

In an emergency, people may react differently, and sometimes irrationally. There is a risk of poor judgement, panic or confusion. It can be difficult to think clearly. For these reasons, situational training is to be encouraged. Time is precious and prior preparation is strongly advised through contingency planning. 

On the 15 April 1989, the English F.A. Cup semi-final was played at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield. At the time, Hillsborough was classified as a modern football stadium and was equipped with CCTV to monitor crowd control. The F.A. had previously used Hillsborough to host F.A. Cup semi-finals. It is worth remembering that 1980s football stadiums had installed high level security fencing to mitigate the risk of pitch invasions by hooligans. 

In the interest of spectator safety, the match was an all ticket affair. Half an hour before the scheduled 3pm kick-off, crowd congestion was reported at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium. During the inquest it was established that ten thousand ticketed supporters were expected to enter the Leppings Lane standing terrace via seven turnstiles. With less than half the ticket holders inside the ground, and with additional supporters (some without tickets) still arriving, a crush occurred at the turnstiles. In order to alleviate pressure at the turnstiles, a fateful decision was made to open one of the emergency exit gates. This resulted in a crowd surge into the terraced standing areas. The consequence of this crowd surge was overcrowding in the standing terrace, which resulted in 96 Liverpool supporters losing their lives. 

In the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, the inquest identified several failures in the emergency preparedness and response plan. Assessment of these failures, and adaptations made as a consequence, has fundamentally changed the way we now enjoy the match day experience. 

 

  • Failure to prevent crowd congestion:There was no police cordon on the approaches to the stadium to ensure football supporters formed orderly queues and prevent supporters without tickets from entering. There were 172 fewer police officers at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final compared to the previous year. Police and authorities had failed to implement layout changes to the Leppings Lane end of the stadium, following concerns raised at previous F.A. Cup semi-finals.
  • Failure to close a tunnel leading to the standing terrace:When the police ordered the opening of the emergency exit gate, the crowd surged towards a tunnel leading into two central pens. There was no attempt to divert supporters into other sections of the terrace. The police failed to recognise the risk associated with leaving the tunnel gate open. At the previous year’s semi-final, the gate was closed to alleviate congestion on the terracing.
  •  Failure to delay kick off:The police commander had the power to delay kick off in the interest of crowd safety. Despite CCTV showing the crowd congestion outside the stadium and the resulting crush, no delay was implemented. The police commander decided the game should proceed with the planned 3pm kick- off, to mitigate further disruption and potential crowd trouble.
  • Slow Emergency Response: The inquest established the response by emergency services had been “woefully inadequate”. A leading expert in pre-hospital care criticised a senior ambulance officer for failing to look inside the pens, even though a major crush disaster was unfolding in front of him. Members of the South Yorkshire ambulance service were unaware that spectators were being crushed inside the stadium. The South Yorkshire ambulance service failed to declare a major emergency at the earliest opportunity. The inquest established an on-scene radio was faulty at the time. The South Yorkshire ambulance service failed to alert nearby hospitals about the disaster, as they had presumed the ambulance control room had completed the task. There were also reports of “empty or depressurised” oxygen equipment, which, if functioning, could have been used to resuscitate casualties.
  • Lessons not learned: There had been several previous “near misses” at the Hillsborough Stadium. The most notable was the 1981 F.A. Cup semi-final between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers. In a similar incident, 38 Tottenham supporters were crushed on the Leppings Lane terrace. Before kick-off police opened the emergency gate to alleviate congestion at the turnstiles. This allowed additional Tottenham supporters into the terraced area. After Tottenham scored the opening goal of the game, a crowd surge caused a serious crush on the terrace and fatalities were narrowly avoided. An enquiry after this game highlighted concerns about the design of the Leppings Lane pens, the potential for crushing, and the over-estimated capacity of the terrace. However, these concerns were never addressed. 

 

The match day experience for football fans fundamentally changed after Hillsborough. Following the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster, fully seated stadiums are now compulsory. Additional safety improvements to football stadiums were introduced. Each game would now be fully ticketed, with compulsory stewarding, and extensive policing. This includes trained on scene commanders, and dedicated stewards and police to control crowds arriving and exiting the stadiums. 

 

In the 21st century these are the most likely disasters to occur on the football pitch………  

CONTINGENCY PLANNING FOR EMERGENCIES 

 

Pre-planning is essential to ensure that appropriate resources are allocated and to identify any potential deficiencies in Emergency Plans or procedures. Emergency Plans should outline clear roles and responsibilities, be subject to regular reviews, and shared with appropriate persons. 

Recommendations include: 

  • Learn the emergency numbers 112 and 999 
  • Know your full site address, including Eircode, and be able to provide clear directions to your premises / site 
  • Retain useful phone numbers (incident controller/ first aid personnel) to hand and make them visible to all site members (for instance, on clear notice boards). 
  • Undertake training in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and First Aid Response 
  • Have a first aid app on your phone 
  • Undertake evacuation drills 
  • Provide appropriate training to appropriate persons. 
Construction Safety Week 2020 – Plant and Pedestrian Safety

Construction Safety Week 2020 – Plant and Pedestrian Safety

When reviewing the N5 Road Project Advance Works, the primary major accident hazard is plant and machinery. According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the greatest risk to pedestrians is from vehicles and mobile plant. Of the 46 workplace fatalities reported in 2019, across all sectors, 19 involved vehicles (struck by, crushed or trapped by a vehicle). It is highlighted that there are substantial blind spots on construction vehicles. The most common type of vehicle operated on the N5 Road Project Advance Works are excavators, with workers at risk of being run over or struck by a slewing bucket, if they are in the operator’s blind spot.

The HSA highlights that employers, or a person in control of a workplace, must carry out a documented risk assessment of workplace transport hazards, to include an evaluation and assessment of vehicles and mobile work equipment in use in the workplace. Additionally, pedestrian activity within the operational areas shall, wherever possible, be restricted, particularly in hours of darkness. For certain operations ‘no entry’ zones should be identified and clearly marked.

Here are some tips for maintaining your safety in relation to plant and machinery:
  • Only operate plant and machinery if you are trained and competent. Excavator and Site Dumper operators must have a Solas CSCS competency card.
  • Ensure plant and machinery is properly maintained and in good working order.
  • Report mechanical defects (for instance, damaged visibility devices e.g. mirrors/ cameras; or leaking hydraulic hoses). Ensure regular services are completed.
  • Plant and machinery operators must have good visibility, and the ability to see pedestrians.
  • Pedestrians must ensure they do not enter exclusion (hazard) zones surrounding operating plant and machinery.
  • Dumper operators must be familiar with their terrain and avoid areas where there is potential for overturning.
  • All personnel must wear high visibility clothing: BE SEEN, BE SAFE!
  • Pedestrians should use pedestrian walkways where provided (e.g. Gortnacrannagh 7, Leggatinty).

 

 

 

KEY SAFETY TIPS FOR WORKING NEAR OVERHEAD ELECTRICITY LINES

  • Keep a safe distance. Implement the Code of Practice for Avoiding Danger from Overhead Lines.
  • Check that you are following safe digging practice. Implement the Code of Practice for Underground Services.
  • Contact ESB Networks for information and advice.

Remember – electricity wires and cables are always live; never touch fallen wires or handle cables.

Contact ESB Networks for the records of overhead and underground cables by emailing dig@esb.ie or phoning 1800 928 960 for Map Records and Advice.

Watch out for overhead wires:

  • Remember to implement the safety controls and comply with the Code of Practice for Avoiding Danger from Overhead Electricity Lines.
  • Know what the required safety zones are by contacting ESB Networks in advance
  • Erect goal posts to restrict access for tall machinery.

 

Keep clear of underground cables:

  • Remember to implement the safety controls and comply with the Code of Practice for Underground Cables.
  • Identify the location of underground cables
  • Use competent staff and calibrated equipment
  • Implement safe digging practices.

 

IMPORTANT RESOURCES TO HELP YOU BE SAFE:

Phone 1800 928 960 or dig@esb.ie for the electricity network records on your site

For information on the Codes of Practice, Safety Videos and Safety Advice: visit esbnetworks.ie/stayingsafewww.esbnetworks/stayingsafe/

In an emergency, phone 1800 372 999.

Construction Safety Week – Work At Height

Construction Safety Week – Work At Height

Work at height continues to be the greatest causal factor for fatalities and serious injury in the construction sector. Many falls occur at relatively low heights, e.g. 2 or 3 metres above ground level. According to the latest figures for fatal workplace injuries in the Irish construction sector (2020), of the 11 fatal accidents reported to the Health and Safety Authority, 5 were the consequence of falls from height.

Although we have limited exposure to work at height on the N5 Road Project Advance Works, all those engaged in construction activity are reminded to undertake risk assessments for any elevated operations. Work must be adequately planned and organised, in order to make the risks as low as reasonably practicable.

Since the establishment of the Health and Safety Authority under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989, there have been 440 construction related fatal workplace accidents reported to the H.S.A. (1989- 2019: 37-year reporting period)

  • 338 of the fatal accidents were recorded within the construction sector
  • 95 of these fatal accidents resulted from falls from height
  • Of these accidents, 337 were male and 1 was female
  • 102 of the fatal accidents were recorded in other business sectors which involved construction work (e.g. farming- repairing the roofs of farmyard buildings)
  • Of the accidents from other sectors, 101 were male and 1 was female
  • 31 of these fatal accidents were the result of falls from height

Some interesting facts about falls from height………

  • It takes the average human 0.67 seconds to realise that they are accidentally falling, and react to the situation
  • During that time, they have already fallen over 2.2metres (7 feet) vertically at a velocity of 6.57metres per second
  • After 2 seconds, the unfortunate victim has fallen 19.6 metres, and is now travelling at 70 kilometres per hour.

 Falls from height are the biggest killer of construction workers. Of 46 workplace fatalities reported to the H.S.A. in 2019, 11 were the deaths of personnel killed by falls from height or falling objects!

Construction Safety Week 2020 – Manual Handling

Construction Safety Week 2020 – Manual Handling

According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), “Manual Handling involves the transporting or supporting of any load by one or more employees, and includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving a load, which by reason of its characteristics or unfavourable ergonomic conditions, involves risk, particularly of back injury, to employees”.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Applications) Regulations 2007, as amended, outline the requirements for manual handling. These include:

  • Undertaking a manual handling risk assessment of work / tasks to identify hazards and appropriate controls.
  • Organising tasks to facilitate the use of mechanical or other means to eliminate / reduce the need for manual handling of loads by persons (e.g. excavators- fork attachments, tracked dumper)
  • Providing instruction and training to employees (e.g. manual handling training)

 

RESPIRABLE CRYSTALLINE SILICA (RCS)

Crystalline silica is a naturally occurring substance typically found in stone (particularly sandstone, shale, granite, and slate); in sand; and in products such as bricks, tiles, concrete and cement. Refer to Table 1.

Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) occurs when these materials are worked on to release a very fine dust that could be inhaled. Where concrete, stone or sand-based materials are altered (during formation, cutting, drilling, polishing or demolition) and made airborne, there is a potential for exposure to crystalline silica dust.

Hazards

Inhalation is the primary route of exposure to crystalline silica dust. When any dust is inhaled, its point of deposition within the respiratory system is very much dependent upon the range of particle sizes present in the dust. The respirable fraction (smallest particle size) of crystalline silica dust can penetrate deep into the lungs.

The EU’s Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive has been updated and has classified Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) as a category 1 carcinogen; this came into effect in EU member states as of 17th January 2020. The Occupational Exposure Limit Value (OELV) established for Silica, both crystalline and respirable, over an 8-hour reference period, is 0.1 mg/m3. This is clearly defined under the Health and Safety Authority’s Chemical Agents Code of Practice 2020.

 

How to Manage RCS

The respirable fraction of the dust is invisibly fine. Elimination and substitution of RCS containing materials, dust extraction and/or dust suppression are the primary measures advised to control potential exposure.

Always assume that exposure is likely to occur and protect according to the level of risk identified from risk assessment. In summary:

  • Prepare written risk assessments (required by law) highlighting the key hazards, risks, and controls in place.
  • Use safe systems of work to reduce exposure based on the risk assessment.
  • Use dust suppression techniques during work.
  • Use engineering controls such as local exhaust ventilation to control exposure. This can be very effective – e.g. in the construction sector road cutting saws and Con (Stihl) saws have water suppression to minimise dust, as do many chop saws. 
  • Use and store personal protective equipment according to instructions to reduce exposure.

 

 

Construction Safety Week 2020 Mental Health

Construction Safety Week 2020 Mental Health

Mental health covers a wide range of issues, from mild or moderate anxiety and stress; to drug and alcohol abuse; to disorders such as severe depression and schizophrenia. However, the phrase mental health and wellbeing also relates to general mental and emotional health, and a worker’s  ability to cope with the normal stresses of life.

This year, we must acknowledge the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on society in general. All of our lives and routines have been affected by measures introduced to contain the virus and protect the population. Many construction workers were unable to work, and this created a challenging situation for their mental health and wellbeing.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), 18.5% of the Irish population has a mental health disorder. This places Ireland 3rd highest in Europe (after Finland and the Netherlands) in the estimated prevalence of mental health issues.

Spectrum Life shared stark statistics, which highlighted that:

  • One in four deaths of young men aged 15-39 in Ireland is due to alcohol
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death among young Irish men aged 15 to 24
  • Alcohol is a factor in more than half of completed suicides in Ireland, and in over one-third of episodes of deliberate self-harm.

 In August 2020, the Construction Industry Federation published a report on ‘Mental Health in the Construction Sector’. This document outlines recommendations from a detailed survey of members. It represents a benchmark of industry progress towards a working culture that protects, supports and nurtures employee wellbeing. The resultant recommendations for companies are as follows:

  1. Prioritise the project management and supervision of each job to establish and maintain
    1. Realistic deadlines
    2. Clear communication between management and staff
    3. Healthy working hours and working periods
  2. Develop a collaborative company culture where teamwork and support are encouraged and rewarded. Senior management need to “demonstrate and not just articulate that teamwork matters”.
  3. Assign responsibility for mental health to a senior member of the company. The assigned individual should then be provided with the resources to deliver a strong support structure.
  4. Engage staff in a frank discussion on mental health with the aim of developing appropriate policies and procedure.
  5. Develop succinct and jargon free mental health policies and procedures. These should be clearly communicated to all staff.
  6. Introduce an open and confidential process whereby employees can report a mental health issue.
  7. Consider and invest in a range of educational initiatives (e.g. talks, workshops, activities) to inform colleagues and promote good mental health in the workplace.
  8. Consider formal training for staff, selecting an accredited course that matches your company’s needs.

Examples of available support include:

Support for Employers

 

Build Health

‘Build Health’ is a joint initiative between the CIF, Laya Healthcare and Spectrum Life that can support both employers and employees in the sector. The mental health and wellbeing support programme offers resources to leaders, and the 24/7 Mental Health Support Programme gives confidential help and advice to those who need it. For more details, see attached or visit the CIF Build Health Webpage: https://wellbeing.spectrum.life/cif/

 

Construction Workers’ Sick Pay Trust

The Trust is committed to the promotion of better health, including mental health and wellbeing for all workers in the construction sector. During 2019, just over 7,000 sick pay benefit claims were paid to members covered by the Scheme. This was regardless of the type of illness, once certified. For information on how to claim, please visit www.cwspt.ie or email sickpay@cwspt.ie or call 01-4977663. 

 

Healthy Ireland

This is a Government-led initiative aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of everyone living in Ireland. It provides a range of support materials which can be accessed at the website, www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/together

 

Remedy Clinic

The CIF and Remedy Clinic have also come together to offer members a modern approach to counselling services.

 

Lighthouse Club

On 3rd June 2020, the Lighthouse Club Construction Industry Charity, supported by the CIF, launched a FREE 24/7 confidential employee assistance helpline and app for everyone in the Irish construction industry. The Helpline can be called anytime on 1800 939 122, and the app ‘Construction Industry Helpline’ can be downloaded on android or Apple mobile devices. For more information, visit: https://www.lighthouseclub.org/

 

Support for Individuals

50808

In June of this year, the Health Services Executive launched a text-based mental health service. ‘50808’ is the first service of its kind for Ireland. A free 24/7 text service, it provides everything from a calming chat to immediate support for people going through mental health or emotional crises. For free 24/7 support in a crisis, text ‘HELLO’ to 50808.

 

Lighthouse Club

On 3rd June 2020, the Lighthouse Club Construction Industry Charity, supported by the CIF, launched a FREE 24/7 confidential employee assistance helpline and app for everyone in the Irish construction industry. The Helpline can be called anytime on 1800 939 122, and the app ‘Construction Industry Helpline’ can be downloaded on android or Apple mobile devices. For more information, visit: https://www.lighthouseclub.org/

 

Pieta House

To speak with a therapist any time, day, or night, freephone 1800 247 247 or text ‘HELP’ to 51444. The Pieta website can be accessed here: https://www.pieta.ie/

 

Aware

Offering support to those in need, Aware’s freephone Support Line is available Monday to Sunday from 10am – 10pm on 1800 80 48 48 or email: supportmail@aware.ie

 

Proverb

The man doesn’t know there is a snake biting the woman… The woman doesn’t know there is a stone crushing the man.

The woman thinks, “I am going to fall, and I can’t climb because the snake is biting me! Why can’t the man use a little strength and pull me up?”

The man thinks, “I am in so much pain! Yet I’m still pulling her up as much as I can. Why doesn’t she try a bit harder to climb?”

Moral: You can’t see the pressure the other person is under, and the other person can’t see the pain that you are in. This is life!

 

CIF NSAI Face Covering Guidance for Construction Projects

CIF NSAI Face Covering Guidance for Construction Projects

The CIF have circulated an email requesting that all duty holders on construction projects double their efforts with regard to COVID 19.

Notwithstanding the necessity to do so for health reasons the CIF is also looking to ensure the industry remains operation at Level 4.  The industry has performed very well over the past number of months, we want to ensure this continues.

Face coverings / face masks are more and more becoming common place on sites. The importance of selecting the correct type and the correct wearing of the item is very important.

Please see the NSAI publication on Face Coverings. SWiFT19

A barrier mask is a type of face covering for consumers and is intended for single use or reusable.

Used in conjunction with relevant public health advice, a barrier mask may help prevent the spread of viral
infection to others. A barrier mask is a non-medical & non-personal protective equipment grade face mask and is not
intended to protect the wearer against viral infection.

A barrier mask for consumers shall: 

— cover the, mouth, nose and chin (protection area see Figure 1),

— sufficiently cover the user’s face against the ambient atmosphere, when the user’s skin is dry or damp  or when the user moves their head,

— have a means by which it can be fitted closely over the nose, mouth and chin of the wearer and which  ensures that the mask fits closely at the sides,

— not contain inhalation valve(s) and/or exhalation valve(s)

Putting on the barrier mask
To avoid contamination when putting on a mask, the following steps should be followed:

1. Wash your hands with soap and water (or use a hand sanitizer) before handling the mask.

2. For reuse of the mask, ensure that it has been properly washed beforehand (see washing and
drying instructions below)

3. Touching the outside or harness only, locate the top of the mask.

4. Place the barrier mask on the face and adjust the nose-bridge clip to the nose, where applicable.

5. Hold the mask from the outside and fasten the headgear or straps behind the head or the ears, as
appropriate.

6. Lower the bottom of the mask to the chin

7. Check that the mask covers the chin.

8. Pinch the nose-bridge support with both hands to adjust it to the nose.
9. Check that the mask is correctly positioned. Ensure that (a) there is no breathing discomfort, and (b) there are no gaps remaining between the barrier mask perimeter and face.

10. Once secured, no longer touch the mask with your hands. If the user needs to touch the mask, they
should first wash your hands with soap and water or rub them with a hand sanitizer.

What are the health and safety implications of working from home?

What are the health and safety implications of working from home?

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted dramatic changes in many aspects of our lives – not least the working world. With so many people finding themselves working from home for the first time, here is ASM’s guide to health and safety in the remote work place.

Just as in any other workplace, health and safety must be carefully considered when working from home. Employers still have a duty of care to their employees, and need to ensure health and safety standards are being met. Employees must also work towards health and safety goals, following guidance, and informing their employers of problems so that adjustments can be made.

How can employers support home working?

Employers have a duty to support the health and safety of employees in the workplace, and this includes during home working. For colleagues working at home, employers should:

– Consult with employees to ensure they are aware of any specific risks associated with working from home
– Check that the work activity and the temporary workspace are suitable
– Ensure that the employee can easily contact their employer
– Provide any equipment necessary to allow the employee to complete their work from home

What are the health and safety responsibilities of employees during home working?

Employees must:

– Cooperate with their employers health and safety guidelines
– Report any issues to their employer immediately
– Do all they can to protect themselves and others from harm in their working environment

Health and Safety preparations for home working

– Temporary remote working arrangements should be clearly agreed between employer and employee, and this should include provisions for regular communication
– A safe and comfortable space within the home should be identified as a work space, separate from employee living areas.
– Equipment needs that ensure a safe working environment should be agreed between employer and employee.
– Emergency plans and contacts should be made clear.

Considerations when setting up a home work space

The health and safety implications of working from home are numerous. When identifying a suitable space within the home for working, consider:

– Is there suitable light, heat and ventilation to create a comfortable environment?
– Are power sockets located conveniently, to avoid trips and falls over cables?
– Is there a desk of the correct height and dimensions to allow for good posture and back health?
– Likewise, is there a chair that will support the employee’s back health and allow good posture during desk work?
– Is the floor clean, clear, and free from slip, trip and fall hazards?

Employees must identify shortages in equipment that will hinder their working process, and agree any additional needs with their employer. When setting up the working space, ask:

– Is there internet access? Is it fast enough for working purposes?
– Does the employee need a headset for taking calls?
– Does the employee need a work phone?
– Does the employee need any additional I.T. equipment?
– Does the employee need stationery supplies?

Keep Communications Clear

When working from home, it is important that clear communication is maintained by both employer and employee. This is not just vital to a good working relationship; from a health and safety point of view it is essential. There are several health and safety reasons for good communications:

– Mental health – those who are new to home working can often feel isolated, and find it much harder to deal with problems than when they were in the office community. Reaching out regularly to colleagues can ease this feeling, and improve productivity, well being, and morale.
– If an accident should arise from an employee’s work activity, it is vital that their employer is informed immediately. The health and safety of the employee’s home work set up should be reconsidered, and risk assessed for the future.
– If working equipment that an employer has provided is not working properly or requires maintenance, this must be resolved swiftly – especially if it creates further health and safety implications.
– If employees have specific health, safety, or welfare concerns, they need to be able to relate these to their employer with ease.

ASM are experts in health and safety consultancy. If you need assistance in reviewing your home working set up, and ensuring that your current plans are compliant with requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can contact ASM on 01 234 3724 / 021 2409072 or info@asmgroup.ie.

Returning To Work In A COVID-19 Environment

Returning To Work In A COVID-19 Environment

As employees go back to the office, clear guidance on returning to work in a COVID-19 environment is of paramount importance. Here at ASM, we’re experts in creating safe and healthy workplaces. We’ve put together this guide on what you should expect on your return to work.

Planning Your Return To Work In A COVID-19 Environment

There are several systems employers should have in place before asking their employees to return to the workplace. These include:

  • Appointing a lead worker representative, who will ensure that health and safety guidance is followed
  • Updating business and safety plans, including the workplace risk assessments, the safety statement, the occupational health assessment, and the COVID-19 Business Response Plan. Businesses should have a plan in place for how to deal with a suspected case of COVID-19, and a manager responsible for implementing it.
  • Employees should receive a Pre-Return to Work form. This will ask employees if they have experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 during the previous 14 days; if they are self-isolating; and if they have been in contact with anyone who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
  • Employees should expect to receive COVID-19 safety induction training on their return.

 

The Commute

Travelling to and from work can become quite a challenge from a health and safety perspective. Consider:

  • Can you travel in your own vehicle? Travel alone where possible. If car sharing is necessary, your passenger must follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Your employer should provide you with cleaning equipment and hand sanitisers to be used in work vehicles.
  • If you need to use public transport, try and minimise your journeys. Face coverings must be worn while onboard.

 

At Work

Reducing the spread of COVID-19 requires a team effort. Employers and employees must work together to try and ensure the safety of the whole workplace.

Duties of employers:

  • Provide good hygiene facilities, plus information on hand washing techniques, and good ventilation. Supply tissues plus bins for their safe disposal. Regularly empty these bins and provide advice on good respiratory practice.
  • Two metre physical distancing must be implemented wherever possible. This applies to all aspects of time at work. Breaks should be staggered, and access to communal areas such as kitchens and bathrooms should be restricted to a minimal number of users at a time. Thought should also be put into smaller actions that could have big impacts – for instance, a no handshake policy; no touching of other people’s belongings; no sharing of pens or utensils. One way systems could be implemented in narrow corridors. Each workplace will need its own specific adaptations in order to create the safest environment.
  • Where two metre physical distancing is not possible, employers should install physical barriers between workspaces or prepare specific risk assessments for activities less than 2m. do not go less than 1m. If there is an identified COVID-19 risk, Personal Protective Equipment must be provided in line with public health guidelines.
  • Close Contact Work and Group work should be recorded as part of contact tracing.
  • Hand sanitisers should be provided, and the workplace should be thoroughly and regularly cleaned. This includes disinfecting all surfaces with frequent contact, with especial focus on areas of communal touch such as door handles.
  • Employers must have a dedicated isolation area for any employee who develops COVID-19 symptoms. The sick employee must be directed to this isolation area whilst maintaining distancing, and the employer must then arrange for the employee to be transported to a medical facility or to their home, without using public transport. A full risk assessment must be completed.

Duties of employees:

  • Each employee must follow the health and safety guidelines, plus any specific rules their employer has made for their workplace.
  • Maintain good hygiene practices, such as physical distancing and frequent, thorough hand washing.
  • Do not go to work if they suspect any symptoms of COVID-19
  • Talk to their employer about any concerns they may have, for instance if another member of their household needs to isolate, meaning they do too.

Returning to work in a COVID-19 environment is a challenge for both employers and employees. Experts like ASM can smooth the journey. If you need assistance in reviewing your workplace and ensuring that your current plans are compliant with requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can contact ASM on 01 234 3724 / 021 2409072 or info@asmgroup.ie.

Construction Regulations Amendment 2020

Construction Regulations Amendment 2020

Minister of State Pat Breen has signed in to law the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, S.I. No. 102 of 2020.

The purpose of these regulations is to amend the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013 to 2019 to extend the validity of safety awareness registration cards which cannot be renewed as a result of the Covid-19 emergency.

The regulations allow for cards which have expired after March 01st 2020 to be still regarded as valid for the duration of the cessation of delivery of the SOLAS Safe Pass training programme.

The amendment was signed on March 31st 2020 and has an immediate effective date