Cleanliness and social distancing are among the main COVID-19 concerns raised with CIRAS in the past month, but don’t lose sight of other health, safety and wellbeing issues too.
CIRAS – the confidential reporting and analysis service for transport, logistics and infrastructure – listens to people concerned about any number of health, safety and wellbeing issues in their workplace. These concerns are then passed confidentially to employers so the information can be used to reduce risk.
There are recurring themes in many of the reports CIRAS receives. These range from fatigue – including the impact of shift design – distraction and physical and mental health concerns, to site- or industry-specific concerns about rules, procedures and working practices.
With the spread of the COVID-19 virus worldwide, health, safety and wellbeing are understandably at the front of everyone’s minds. The number of operational and infrastructure staff contacting CIRAS has been higher in March/April this year than the same period in the previous five years.
People contact CIRAS to express their concerns confidentially so that they reach the right people to take action. They may have already tried internal reporting channels or they may just feel uncomfortable about people at work knowing it was them who highlighted an issue. There are lots of reasons why people choose to contact CIRAS.
The types of concern raised with CIRAS over the last month generally focus on measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Effective social distancing is a priority for many of those reporting to CIRAS, whether this means finding ways to maintain a two-metre distance from colleagues and the public at work or when travelling to work, or whether it’s about rearranging shifts and staff rotas so fewer people are in a space at any time.
There have been concerns about employers' interpretations of when staff must attend workplaces rather than work from home. In other instances, people are concerned that work activities that could be postponed to help with social distancing have continued to take place.
We have heard from people worried that colleagues who they think show symptoms of COVID-19 or should be self-isolating are coming into work.
Others have focused on the transmission of COVID-19 through contact with infected surfaces. Their concerns range from how well and how often locations are cleaned – especially where the public travel or which are heavily used by staff – through to the availability of cleaning products including handwash, and the handling of cash or other items from the public. Having the right PPE, especially in public-facing roles or in public areas, is another concern.
By getting in touch with CIRAS you are helping employers to plan and manage the situation, identifying processes that may not be working as expected or areas where more could be done, for example with rosters being replanned to allow for social distancing.
Not all the concerns raised last month are to do with COVID-19 and some are indirectly related, such as changes in shifts potentially leading to inconsistent rest days and fatigue.
It is more important than ever to keep sight of issues and hazards that might slip under the radar as a result of the ongoing, necessary focus on preventing the spread of COVID-19. If you want to make a positive change to the health, safety and wellbeing of your colleagues or others in your workplace, keep raising your concerns with your employer or with CIRAS where you want to do so confidentially.