Firstly, a Happy New Year to everyone and we hope that you all enjoyed the Christmas break, albeit it was certainly different this year.
As we are all aware the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, made an announcement last night outlining the details of the latest lockdown restrictions.
Therefore, to provide some clarity from the company’s perspective we thought that it would be important to review and detail to you all our policy in relation to the changes to the current restrictions.
As a business that has been classified as ‘Key Worker’, due to providing life safety/security systems, we have a responsibility, and an obligation, to provide these services. These services are provided by our staff working in a number of ways. We would therefore like to address each one in turn.
With regard to site working our policy is that if the sites in question are open for work then we will continue. However, we wish to make it clear that there are two important caveats to reiterate in that firstly our works should only be carried out in an environment that is safe to both our staff and others. It should be noted that all sites should still be adhering to the latest Site Operating Procedure (SOP Rev 6) guidance and recommendations produced by the Construction Leadership Council. Secondly that this safe working also includes the travelling element to and from the site.
We are conscious that it is all too easy to dictate a policy from afar regarding what is deemed to be safe or not, as the case may be, but to clarify if an individual feels that the environment that they are being asked to work in is not safe then they should not proceed and seek guidance. We will obviously support this action, although we would ask that the individual concerned immediately highlights their specific concerns to one of our Risk and Compliance team in order that it can be brought to the attention of our client or indeed if we are at fault, our own team, so that it can be rectified.
With regard to those of you who are working from home we would ask you to continue to do so. We are aware that there is a small number of staff that are unable to work from home and are working from the office. Under the current guidelines this can continue as is, however this policy may change dependent upon further restrictive lockdowns being imposed at a later date.
For those of you working in production and the associated services we would like you to continue, as you have been over the last 10 months, adhering to our own Business Operating Procedure Issue 5 and local arrangements, which have proved effective during this period.
We realise that this has and remains to be a very difficult situation for us all but I would like to thank everyone for their efforts and extremely hard work over the period. It is clear that everyone has their own challenges in dealing with this pandemic and some have adapted better than others, but to assist those who maybe suffering with mental health issues we will be issuing everyone later this week guidance from ‘Mates in Mind’. This is an organisation that we have joined specifically to help address mental health issues in the construction industry, logistics, manufacturing, transport as well as other sectors.
You will all be receiving support information from the Risk and Compliance team this week explaining how ‘Mates in Mind’ can provide external assistance.
The above working policy will remain in place for the foreseeable future. As we have seen since March 2020 the situation is changing on a weekly and sometimes daily basis, so as such our own policies will continue to evolve likewise but we will keep our staff, our clients and our supply chain updated via this website.
Hopefully it will not be too long until our normal business practices can start to be resumed.
Over the past two weeks we have been developing our company policy in relation to living and working with the Covid-19 virus, in readiness for an easement to the lockdown restrictions.
As we are all aware the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, made an announcement on Sunday 10th May 2020 regarding his plans to restart the economy and ease these lockdown restrictions.
Taking this updated guidance into account our policy is now changing from one which, at the height of the crisis, focused on supporting and maintaining key works and critical sites, to one that will now operate on all available construction sites.
However, we wish to make it clear that there are two important caveats to add to this policy, in that firstly our works will only be carried out in an environment that is safe to both our staff and others. Secondly that this return to work is carried out in a gradual and controlled manner so as not to affect the current safe working. This same return to work policy will now also apply to our office operations and manufacturing team.
Detailed risk assessments have determined our policy in how and when we will bring staff back into the workplace as our absolute priority is the safety and wellbeing of our staff. As a result of these assessments we have created comprehensive business operating procedures which are to be implemented across the business. We will of course continue to support remote working where practical to do so and will also continue to shield our most vulnerable employees.
For clarity all our clients PPM and emergency call out services are continuing to operate as they have from the start of the crisis.
As a business we, like others, have had to adapt quickly, not only in how we work but also how we live. These changes have not been easy and I would like to thank our staff for not only the proactive way in which they have carried this out but also the ‘can do attitude’ they have adopted in doing so. This extends to everyone in the business from those working in the field, to office support working at home and the patience and understanding of the staff waiting to return to work.
As we have seen throughout this period the situation is changing on a weekly and sometimes daily basis, so as such our own policies will evolve likewise but we will keep our clients, our staff and our supply chain updated via this website.
Since the issue of our last statement on the 31st March 2020 we have had a number of questions related to the stance the company has taken in respect to the type of work we are continuing with as a consequence of Covid-19.
I would start by saying that our absolute priority, as always, is the safety and well being of our staff and with that in mind we have obtained guidance from the various government bodies on exactly the type of work that we should be carrying out.
Now although the UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Parliament are unanimous in their approach to social distancing and that journeys should only be made where absolutely necessary, their views differ greatly when it comes to the question of works on construction sites.
The UK Parliament (including Northern Ireland) has stated that sites should remain open regardless with no discrimination as to the need to complete the works i.e. critical or non-critical. Their caveat being that it should always be carried out safely.
The Welsh Parliament has published updated advice mandating that all workplaces observe the 2m rule with the new regulations which came into force on Tuesday 7 April. It states that all businesses will have to take all reasonable measures to ensure the 2m rule is maintained between people on their premises whenever work is being carried out.
Whilst the Scottish Parliament has ordered construction work to stop on all sites apart from a list published of “essential” projects that are needed to assist with the current crisis. This is a policy that we are currently working to as we believe it focuses the efforts on essential works only, rather than works that are not immediately required other than for financial reasons. This policy quite rightly limits the number of our staff to unnecessary contact with others and at the same time leaves critical sites unaffected.
Having reviewed all of the various UK governments recommendations and evaluated how best we can support our staff, our clients, and the government, we believe, like others, that our efforts should remain as previously stated in that we will be focused on supporting and maintaining key works and critical sites through these challenging and difficult times. For clarity all our clients PPM and emergency call out services remain as key works and as such we will continue to carry out these works.
Sadly, as a consequence of our policy we have seen a very limited number of clients threatening us with costs and damages, where we have focused our efforts on critical sites, such as nightingale hospitals, rather than their own non-essential sites. This is something that we will have to deal with in due course, as the safety of our staff is paramount.
We recognise that the situation is continually evolving and as such we will review our policy on a rolling weekly basis and advise accordingly.
As we are all aware, over the last couple of weeks, the situation with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic has continued to develop and as a consequence is changing on an almost daily basis.
Following the Government’s recommendations and requirements in relation to how individuals, families, communities and businesses should deal with these unprecedented circumstances we have carried out a review in the way in which we are able to support not only our staff and clients but the industry as a whole.
Fundamentally our first priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff. This is in relation to both Covid-19 and all existing general Health & Safety requirements.
Whilst the Construction Leadership Council have issued guidelines and recommendations so that works can continue on construction sites, in reality it is proving extremely difficult and impossible in some cases, to implement these guidelines. The government though has clearly reiterated that individuals should remain at home unless absolutely necessary, to reduce the pressure on the NHS.
As a business that has been classified as ‘Key worker’, due to providing life safety systems, we have a responsibility, and an obligation, to provide call out cover, to maintain sites, including hospitals, general NHS sites, critical businesses and other establishments as designated by the government. As such we will do all in our power to fulfil this commitment.
Having reviewed all the governments recommendations and evaluated how best we can support our staff, our clients, and the government, we believe, like others, that our efforts should be focused on supporting and maintaining key and critical sites through these challenging and difficult times.
As a result, we will be focusing all of our efforts on critical works only. We are confident, even though this may not satisfy everyone’s requirements at the moment, it would be agreed our focus must be directed to assist those who are helping to abate Covid-19 and its effect thereof, ultimately reducing the longer term impact of Covid-19 by making these decisions now.
We recognise that the situation is evolving on a daily basis as such we will review our policy on a rolling weekly basis and advise accordingly.
In view of the current situation with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) we would like to update our customers and supply chain with regard to the Business Continuity Plan we currently have in place.
Whilst we continue to monitor the developing situation and follow the governments guidelines in respect to the actions companies and individuals should follow, we are also in addition developing and implementing our own plan to both protect individual’s health and provide business continuity.
Clearly the health of our team is paramount to us all and as such we have identified those as being particularly vulnerable within the business and they have now self-isolated.
We have also over the past three weeks been planning and implementing the migration of our office staff to home working. As a result, approximately 90% of our office-based personnel are now working from home. The remaining 10% are continuing to work in the office as our backup team. However, they are able to relocate to home working if and when required, should the circumstance develop such.
As part of this homeworking policy we have also configured our computers to accommodate virtual telephones so that our office extension numbers are seamlessly transferred to our computers. This working at home policy has further been facilitated by the use of our own Cloud-Based bespoke IT programmes that allow the continuous use of our management and administrative systems.
Although we have always been conscious of restricting unnecessary meetings and travel we have now put in place a ban on all face to face meetings and the associated travel thereof, that would normally take place as a consequence. That said our field-based engineers continue to operate across the country and will continue to do so until such time that we are instructed otherwise or we deem it necessary to.
Although we are adapting, at times, on a daily basis to the ever-evolving situation I would like to personally say that the effort and teamwork by our staff has been outstanding. I continue to see this extraordinary effort by them not only when dealing with our clients to minimise disruption but equally with each other and our supply chain.
We have over the past weeks been asked many questions with regard to our ability to provide equipment during these difficult times. As the manufacturer of our product this places us in a fortunate position to not only supply our customers with equipment but also to control and maintain our stock levels within our warehouse. Both of which are continuing to take place and are monitored on a daily basis. As part of this process we are also in close communication with our supply chain for component parts, but that said we always maintain stock levels of these component parts so as to allow us to build and maintain stock of finished equipment for months in advance.
We would like to stress to all of our customers that we do have a Critical Operation Plan in place, as we are more than aware of the importance of maintaining and providing call out cover for life safety systems. So should a full lockdown occur the plan would immediately be introduced to provide emergency cover to our clients via a bespoke reduced team.
In order to support the Governments plans for social distancing and to encourage staff to self-isolate if either they or their family show symptoms, all staff have been instructed to follow the guidelines for which they will receive full pay so as to ensure compliance and reduce the potential spread.
Our current view is that we need to continue as normal as we possibly can. We are however prepared for further escalation of the situation in the UK should this occur. We will continue to communicate with our staff, customers and supply chain and update our policy regularly in line with the Government guidelines and the evolving situation.
Meanwhile we would like to thank you all for both your understanding and support in these unprecedented times.