Blog » Norfolk Industries and Covid 19
As for everyone during 2020, times have been very strange, with lots of change, uncertainty and concern about the future due to the Covid 19 virus. However, I wanted to talk about how Norfolk Industries has dealt with this both as a commercial business and also with people who have a range of disabilities.
Norfolk Industries shut down initially on 23rd March 2020, but due to supplies to the pet trade being deemed an essential service, we were able to re-open in early April. Starting with just 3 people on site during April and May to ensure that we could meet the needs of our largest customers by producing what we could and drawing product from stocks held we then gradually built the staffing level up to be able to address the increased risk and the requirements of our customers. Volunteer also started to be re-introduced in the same way from July onwards.
Every staff member and volunteer who has come back to work has been fully risk assessed, taking their disability, support needs and journey to work into consideration. Everyone has been supplied with their own disinfecting supplies, hand sanitiser, gloves, masks etc, as well as their own labelled equipment such as tape guns and date stamps. They are also provided with copies of all of the additional safe working procedures in place which include ‘before you leave home’, ‘shared areas’ and ‘cleaning and sanitising’ to name a few!
We have now built back up to a total of 8 staff and 11 volunteers coming and going on different days of the week, to ensure that we keep numbers as low as possible particularly within the shared areas such as the canteen, toilets and walkways. We have ‘parked’ another 12 volunteers until 1st April at which point, we will re-assess the situation taking their disabilities and personal circumstances into consideration before bringing anyone else back into the service.
We have put a wide range of additional controls and procedures in place such as morning and afternoon checklists which ask all staff and volunteers whether they have been near anyone who is self-isolating, or has any symptoms of Covid, to check whether they have washed their hands and taken their temperature as soon as they have arrived, to refresh information on the toilet procedures, shared areas, clean down requirements and one way systems etc.
We have also invested time and money in a wide range of signage and labelling to inform people of 2 metre distancing requirements, the need to wear masks when away from your workstation, the current Government restrictions in place, symptoms to look out for and also what symptoms are generally a cold and/or flu and which could be Covid. We also have the NHS QR code posters up in reception as well as our Covid 19 Charter for Safe Working Practices. In the factory we have a one-way system in place which is identified with floor markers as well as 2 metre markers to provide a clear indication of this distance.
All risk assessments are reviewed every month and of course are aim throughout all of this work is to keep everyone as safe and risk free as possible. While winter arrives, Christmas is on the horizon and this Christmas will be different to any other, we continue to work to meet our customers needs (both commercial and service delivery) as best we can with limited volunteers and reduced production times due to on-going cleaning and checklist requirements.
What a year 2020 has turned out to be! Merry Christmas!