COVID-19 secure statement 

Salford City Council’s standard for operating and working in healthy and safe workspaces, April 2022

The health, safety and wellbeing of our workforce remains one of our top priorities. Our learning from recent experiences has clearly reinforced our approach - taking an active approach to maintaining a healthy and safe workplace helps limit the transmission of illnesses and minimises the impact these can have on staffing levels and on our ability to continue to deliver services.

As a result, we have developed a well-established approach to operating healthy and safe workplaces by working with services, individuals, teams, Public Health, Health and Safety and Trade Union colleagues to make this happen.

We will continue to use the principles of this approach as we begin to have more choice to blend working from home, community spaces and office bases, and be able to use the newly designed workspaces for some of the time to collaborate, network, and meet with colleagues and service users when needed.

We realise the importance of good hygiene practices and people have clearly told us that this is something we should continue to take personal responsibility to support. Therefore, our workspaces will be equipped for this to continue and will include things like sanitising stations near high contact areas like lockers and doors, sanitising stations for people to sanitise desks before and after use, and so on. This will also include enhanced cleaning of high touch points.

Together with everyone maintaining good hygiene habits like regularly washing our hands, maintaining a distance of at least one metre from each other, and if feeling unwell staying or working from home; this will keep services going and maintain our business continuity.

As an employer, we also have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety as outlined in the Health and Safety Policy. This means we need to think about the risks faced by employees and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising that there will still be residual risk and you cannot eliminate all risks. Health and safety is everyone’s responsibility and, in line with our organisational values, everyone has a duty and must take personal responsibility to assess, mitigate and manage risks as part of and when carrying out their role.

The standards set out in this document aim to protect and inform staff how to safely manage their workspaces and to be able to escalate issues appropriately. The focus on providing a healthy and safe work environment is to protect all employees and others who may be affected by our activities.

Salford City Council standards are as follows:

  • Carry out a health and safety risk assessment in discussion with employees, Public Health, Corporate Health and Safety, HR and OD, and Trade Unions

To ensure there are processes in place to protect staff at work, we have developed a four-tier system for assessing risk which should sit alongside existing policy and procedures for health and safety at work:

  1. A set of general guidance and suggested control measures across a range of settings where work is taking place – in workplaces, in residents’ homes or businesses, on sites or in open spaces and other work which is needed outside employees’ homes.
  2. Directorates completing risk assessments for their services (in addition to usual health and safety safe working procedures) where their employees access any setting where work takes place outside of the employee’s home; and implementing further specific controls as required to keep employees healthy and safe. These specific risk assessments are developed by services, their employees and Trade Union colleagues advised by Public Health, Corporate Health and Safety and HR and OD colleagues, and a template is available on the council’s intranet. Employees who work outside of council-controlled settings must also follow the risk assessment for the setting they are in.
  3. When requested by an employee, managers supporting them to complete an individual risk assessment to identify additional measures the employee can undertake to mitigate risks and any reasonable adjustments that could be put in place. A template is available on the council’s MyZone.
  4. A dynamic risk assessment (not documentary) carried out by the employee on reaching their work setting to ensure it is safe and healthy for them to continue with the task they need to complete. They should flag any risks to their line manager and/or to the premise manager for the setting as soon as practicable. This may include issues like ventilation concerns, lack of cleaning or handwashing supplies, infection control arrangements, or may even relate to a near-miss that could be reported on the council’s incident form.
  •  One metre social distancing where possible

Employees maintaining a one metre distance from others.

  • Where people cannot be one metre apart

Introducing additional mitigations, for example, using screens or barriers to separate people who don’t normally mix (for example between workers and customers), noting that screens are only likely to be beneficial if placed between people who come into close face-to-face proximity with each other, and may not be practicable between desks in a side-to-side office setting.

Each venue will have a maximum number of individuals allowed to enter a room/work setting/building at any one time in line with the guidance for the type of setting. For this reason, many settings have in place booking arrangements which enable the risk to be managed for all users of the space. Where booking arrangements exist, it is the employee’s individual responsibility to use this fully as instructed.

In some settings and/or job roles PPE will be issued to colleagues as part of health and safety for their type of job role.

  • Reinforce cleaning processes and improve natural ventilation

Employees should clean hard surfaces they come into contact with during their day-to-day work (whether this be in vehicles or any settings where work is taking place); and they should follow instructions as to what is required in terms of decontamination if there is a workplace exposure or outbreak. Frequent and regular handwashing is recommended as this minimises transmission of all infections.

The Council has reviewed the capacity of each setting based on what is considered an adequate supply of fresh air to indoor spaces (this can be natural fresh air through windows, doors and vents, or mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, or a combination of both). Therefore, the maximum number of people who can access a workspace at any one time will be based on these rates. The capacity of meeting rooms will be clearly indicated with signage. In addition, all our ventilation systems continue to be regularly inspected, tested, and set in line with HSE advice.

Windows are to be left open and the air purged between users in meeting spaces and vehicles. It is important the natural ventilation is maintained even when the outside air temperature is cooler and may require employees to wear appropriate clothing so they can work comfortably. As part of the health and safety arrangements at work, it is the responsibility of users to keep windows open where the setting risk assessment requires this.

  • Reporting concerns within your workplace

For minor operational issues in a work setting, the respective manager for that work setting can be contacted to resolve the issue for example, regarding supplies of cleaning equipment.

The work setting manager should also proactively monitor, manage, or escalate any issues that compromise the setting risk assessment for example, where booking, ventilation and shared spaces guidance are not complied with.

If there are any concerns, issues, or compliance concerns these should be raised, where possible, with your line manager who can contact the corporate health and safety team for further guidance and support.  

If there are any concerns, issues or compliance concerns that cannot be raised in this way employees should report the incident through the council’s accident and incident reporting tool.

  • Escalation procedures

As a responsible employer, we will work constructively to address any concerns jointly with services, employees, and our joint trade unions.

The responsibilities of individuals and responsibilities of service managers are outlined in the Health and Safety Policy and the outline of roles and responsibilities. See organisational responsibilities.

Salford City Council places a high priority on the health, safety, and welfare of all employees, visitors, and citizens. Employees have a key role to play in ensuring a safe and healthy work environment is developed and maintained.

All employees are bound by the council’s code of conduct and disciplinary rules. Therefore, all employees are expected to take an active role in keeping themselves and others safe in compliance with the policies, practices, procedures and health and safety risk assessments, including taking part in training and/or seeking appropriate support.

ANNEX: Examples of Application.

Using office space and meeting rooms: What should I do to keep safe?

  • Keep at least 1m apart when moving around communal areas, around the office or using kitchen areas.
  • Wash your hands on arrival, before eating and when leaving; and also, as often as is practical while you are in work.
  • Not eating at desks; instead using the kitchen areas provided.
  • Follow the premises ventilation guidance that may require opening windows to create ventilation, and where possible leave doors ajar (not fire doors).
  • Core working hours are 7am to 4.30pm. Currently we require staff to vacate at 4.30pm so the cleaning staff can undertake a deep clean of desks and shared spaces. This also assures safety of cleaning staff.
  • If you are working outside of core hours, this can be arranged with the setting in advance; or as soon as possible should there be an unexpected need for this.
  • Keep your workspace and work setting clean and clear – if it isn’t an actual shelf then it is safe to assume it’s not ok to store things there.
  • If a workspace operates a workspace booking system, then absolute adherence to its full use will protect everyone. Where a workspace does not operate a workspace booking system there may be a system of red or green cards at desks to indicate spaces that are being used or need to be cleaned before use.
  • If you require replenishing of stock, you can enquire at the main reception for the venue or the service manager responsible for the risk assessment.
  • Any other queries or issues raised in your dynamic risk assessment are to be raised with your line manager.
  • If you feel unwell, you should not come into our workspaces and you should inform your manager.
  • If you share transport with a colleague, minimise risks by cleaning any touch points, and you can open windows to increase natural ventilation.
  • Have a mask available as you may be requested to wear one when visiting certain venues, especially NHS buildings.
  • Remember that you can wear a face covering where you choose to do so in work or out of work as this is still advisable in closed crowded spaces where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet, like home visits
  • Have alcohol hand gel available to use when working mobile and have no access to a hand washing facility.
  • Familiarise yourself with your service risk assessment and you can request an individual risk assessment if you wish to discuss this with your manager.
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