COVID-19

Response Plan

Common symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • a fever (high temperature - 38 degrees Celsius or above).

  • a cough - this can be any kind of cough, not just dry.

  • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties.

For the complete list of symptoms, please refer to the HSE Website.

Some people infected with the virus, so-called asymptomatic cases, have experienced no symptoms at all.

HOW COVID-19 SPREADS

The virus that causes COVID-19 disease is spread from people in fluid and in droplets scattered from the nose or mouth of an infected person when the person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks. The fluid or droplets land on objects and surfaces around the infected person. Other people contaminate their hands by touching these objects or surfaces and then bring the virus into contact with their eyes, nose or mouth by touching them with their contaminated hands. COVID-19 can also spread if droplets from an infected person land directly on the mucous membranes of the eye, nose or mouth of a person standing close to them.

Workers wearing contact lenses take particularly care.

It is still not known how long the virus survives on surfaces in different conditions. The period of survival may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). Studies indicate that it can persist on surfaces for hours and up to several days in the absence of effective cleaning. Thorough and regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces is essential. If disinfection is required it must be performed in addition to cleaning, never as a substitute for cleaning.

While people are most likely to pass on the infection when they have symptoms, current information suggests that some infected people spread the virus to others prior to developing or displaying symptoms themselves.

2

DEVELOP OR AMEND POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR PROMPT IDENTIFICATION AND ISOLATION OF WORKERS WHO MAY HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19, AS APPROPRIATE

The prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a crucial step in protecting the worker involved, their colleagues, customers or others at the workplace.

Sea Clean Cleaning Solutions Ltd will:

  • keep a log of contact/group works to facilitate contact tracing.

  • inform workers and others of the purpose of the log.

  • display information on signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

  • provide up to date information on the Public Health advice issued by the HSE and Gov.ie.

  • provide instruction for workers to follow if they develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 during work.

Sea Clean Cleaning Solutions Ltd will:

  • make themselves aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and monitor their own wellbeing.

  • self-isolate at home and contact their GP promptly for further advice if they display any signs or symptoms.

  • report to managers immediately if any symptoms develop during the shift.

3

IMPLEMENTING THE COVID-19 PREVENTION AND CONTROL MEASURES TO MINIMISE RISK TO WORKERS

Before returning to work, the following pre-return to work steps should be put in place and completed by both employers and workers.

Sea Clean Cleaning Solutions Ltd will:

  • Establish and issue a pre-return to work form for workers to complete at least 3 days in advance of the return to work. This form should seek confirmation that the worker, to the best of their knowledge, has no symptoms of COVID-19 and also confirm that the worker is not self-isolating or awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

  • Include the following questions on the form. If a worker answers Yes to any of them, they are strongly advised to follow the medical advice they receive or seek medical advice before returning to work:

    • Do you have symptoms of cough, fever, high temperature, sore throat, runny nose, breathlessness or flu-like symptoms now or in the past 14 days? Yes/No,

    • Have you been diagnosed with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection in the last 14 days? Yes/No,

    • Are you a close contact of a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days (i.e. less than 2m for more than 15 minutes accumulative in 1 day)? Yes/No,

    • Have you been advised by a doctor to self-isolate at this time? Yes/No,

    • Have you been advised by a doctor to cocoon at this time? Yes/No.

  • Provide induction training for all workers. This training should at a minimum include the latest up-to-date advice and guidance on public health: what a worker should do if they develop symptoms of COVID-19; details of how the workplace is organised to address the risk from COVID-19; an outline of the COVID-19 response plan; identification of points of contact from the employer and the workers; and any other sector-specific advice that is relevant.

  • Arrange for the putting in place of the necessary controls identified in the risk assessment to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

4

PREVENTIVE MEASURES

A. HAND HYGIENE

Regular handwashing with soap and water is effective for the removal of COVID-19.

Employers must:

Workers must:

  • Ensure they are familiar with and follow hand hygiene guidance and advice.

  • Wash their hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub regularly and in particular:

    • after coughing and sneezing,

    • before and after eating,

    • before and after preparing food,

    • if in contact with someone who is displaying any COVID-19 symptoms,

    • before and after being on public transport (if using it),

    • before and after being in a crowd,

    • when arriving and leaving the workplace/other sites,

    • before having a cigarette or vaping,

    • when hands are dirty,

    • after toilet use.

  • Avoid touching their eyes, mouth, or nose.

  • Have access to facilities to support hand hygiene (for example hand sanitiser/hand

  • Wipes/hand washing facilities).

  • Not share objects that touch their mouth, for example, bottles or cups.

  • Use own pens for signing in.

B. RESPIRATORY HYGIENE

In addition to hand hygiene, good respiratory hygiene and etiquette are also necessary.

Employers must:

  • Provide tissues as well as bins/bags for their disposal.

  • Empty bins at regular intervals.

  • Provide advice on good respiratory practice.

Workers must:

  • Adopt good respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.

  • Ensure they are familiar with and follow respiratory hygiene guidance.

C. PHYSICAL DISTANCING

Physical distancing is recommended to reduce the spread of infection. The currently recommended distance to be maintained between people to minimise the risk of transmission is 2 metres.

Employers must:

  • provide for physical distancing across all work activities and this may be achieved in a number of ways:

    • implement a no handshaking policy,

    • where office work is essential, free office capacity must be used as much as is reasonably practicable and work organised in such a way that multiple occupancies of office premises is avoided and/or physical distances maintained,

    • organise workers into teams who consistently work and take breaks together. The teams should be as small as is reasonably practicable in the context of the work to be done,

    • organise breaks in such a way as to facilitate maintenance of physical distancing during breaks,

    • reorganise and rearrange working and break areas. For example, placing tables and chairs far enough apart in canteens,

    • consider closing canteen facilities if public health measures including social distancing cannot be facilitated. If closing, provide information on delivery options,

    • stagger canteen use and extend serving times,

    • implement a queue management system with correct distance markings to avoid queues at food counters, tray return points and checkouts,

    • put in place use of card payment methods where practicable,

    • allocate specific times for collections, appointments and deliverables,

    • conduct meetings as much as possible using online remote means. Where face to face meetings are absolutely necessary, the length of the meeting and the numbers attending should be kept to a minimum and participants must maintain physical distancing at all times,

    • provide one way systems for access/egress routes in the workplace where practicable,

    • adapt existing sign-in/sign-out measures and systems, for example, biometrics/turnstiles, to ensure that physical distancing can be maintained,

    • ensure that workers sharing collective accommodation at a place of work are grouped in fixed teams that are as small as is reasonably practicable and consist of individuals who also work together. As far as is reasonably practicable,

      • each team should where reasonably practicable be provided with their own communal facilities (washrooms, kitchens and communal rooms) in order to avoid the additional burden of shift-wise use and the necessity to clean between occupancy by different teams. If this is not possible, employers should implement phased use and an enhanced cleaning regime.

      • accommodation must be regularly cleaned and ventilated either manually (by opening windows and doors) or mechanically.

      • sleeping accommodation should normally be occupied singly.

      • additional rooms must be provided for early isolation of infected persons.

    • prevent gatherings of workers in the workplace at the beginning and end of working hours (such as at time recording terminals and in changing rooms, washrooms and showers),

    • implement physical distancing during any outdoor work activity. For outdoor work activities, facilities for frequent hand hygiene should be provided and should be located close to where workers are working.

In settings where 2-metre worker separation cannot be ensured by organisational means, alternative protective measures should be put in place, for example:

  • Install physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards between workers,

  • Maintain at least a distance of 1 metre or as much distance as is reasonably practicable,

  • Minimise any direct worker contact and provide hand washing facilities, and other hand hygiene aids, such as hand sanitisers, wipes etc. that are readily accessible so workers can perform hand hygiene as soon as the work task is complete,

  • Make face masks available to the worker in line with Public Health advice.

Note: the wearing of masks is not a substitute for other measures outlined above. However, if masks are worn they should be clean and they should not be shared or handled by other colleagues. Employers and workers should keep up to date with the latest Public Health advice issued in regard to masks by Gov.ie/NPHET.

At-Risk/Vulnerable Workers:

If an at-risk or vulnerable worker cannot work from home and must be in the workplace, employers must make sure that they are preferentially supported to maintain a physical distance of 2 metres. However, employers should enable vulnerable workers to work from home where possible.

 

Working from home:

Office work should continue to be carried out at home, where practicable and non-essential work. The employer should develop and consult on any working from home policy in conjunction with workers and/or Trade Unions. Advice on working from home on a temporary basis is available from the Health and Safety Authority (link).

 

Business Travel and Contractors/Visitors:

 

  • Business trips and face-to-face interactions should be reduced to the absolute minimum and, as far as is reasonably practicable, technological alternatives should be made available (e.g., telephone or video conferencing).

  • For necessary work-related trips, the use of the same vehicles by multiple workers is not encouraged. The number of workers who share a vehicle – simultaneously or consecutively – should be kept to a minimum as far is as reasonably practicable, for example by assigning a vehicle to a fixed team.

  • Workers should be encouraged to travel alone if using their personal cars for work or at a maximum be accompanied by one passenger who shall be seated in adherence with physical distancing guidance.

  • Workers should be provided with hand sanitisers and cleaning equipment for their work vehicle.

  • Workers, contractors or visitors visiting workplaces where there are restrictions arising from the risk of COVID-19 should follow the site infection prevention and control measures and take into account public health advice around preventing the spread of COVID-19. A system for recording visits to the site(s) by workers/others as well as visits by workers to other workplaces should be put in place by employers and completed by workers as required.

  • Provide induction training for contractors and visitors to the workplace.

 

Cleaning:

Cleaning of work areas must be conducted at regular intervals. Further information on cleaning in non-healthcare settings is available from the ECDC at: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/Environmental-persistence-ofSARS_CoV_2-virus-Options-for-cleaning2020-03-26_0.pdf

Employers must:

  • implement thorough and regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces. If disinfection of an area is required it must be performed in addition to cleaning, never as a substitute for cleaning.

  • ensure contact/touch surfaces such as tabletops, work equipment, door handles and handrails are visibly clean at all times and are cleaned at least twice daily.

  • implement modified cleaning intervals for rooms and work areas. This applies especially for washroom facilities and communal spaces. Cleaning should be performed at least twice per day and whenever facilities are visibly dirty.

  • provide workers with essential cleaning materials to keep their own workspace clean (for example wipes/disinfection products, paper towels and waste bins/bags).

  • increase the number of waste collection points and ensure these are emptied regularly throughout and at the end of each day

  • modify the use of hot desks to ensure that these are made available to identified staff and have appropriate cleaning materials in place for workers to clean the area before using.

 

Use of PPE – Personal Protective Equipment

While correctly using PPE can help prevent some exposures, it should not take the place of other preventative measures as outlined above. Examples of PPE include gloves, goggles, respiratory protection. Use of PPE may already be required in many workplaces to address occupational health and safety risks, for example, exposure to hazardous chemicals such as asbestos. In the context of COVID-19 risk, employers should check the HPSC website regularly for updates regarding the use of recommended PPE.

 

  • Full hygiene compliance as set out above should be applied and maintained in all circumstances.

  • PPE must be selected based on the hazard to the worker.

  • Employers must provide PPE and protective clothing to workers in accordance with identified COVID-19 exposure risks and in line with Public Health Advice.

  • Workers should be trained in the proper use, cleaning, storing and disposal of PPE.

  • Gloves are generally not required for infection prevention and control purposes. Where gloves are necessary, they must not be considered a substitute for hand hygiene and hands must be cleaned whenever gloves are removed. Gloves should not create an additional occupational hazard (such as of gloves getting caught in rotating parts). Limitations on wearing time and workers’ individual susceptibilities (allergies, etc.) must also be taken into account.

  • For particular PPE, such as respirators, these must be properly fitted and periodically refitted, as appropriate.

  • PPE needs to be consistently and properly worn when required. In addition, it must be regularly inspected, cleaned, maintained and replaced as necessary.

Further information on PPE is available at: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/Topics/Personal_Protective_Equipment_-_PPE/.

  • Advice for manufacturers and importers who wish to introduce PPE onto the market in response to the current COVID-19 emergency is available on the HSA website.

 

Note: Face Shields designed and authorised as PPE against respiratory droplets should not be mistaken or used as a substitute for impact protection PPE in the workplace. For example, where standard CE marked Face Visor/Face protection PPE is required for work activities such as welding, grinding or to protect against chemical splashes

D. WORKER ROLE

Workers should follow the public health advice and guidance, as well as any specific direction from the employer. They should also adopt good hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing, respiratory etiquette and physical distancing to protect themselves and their work colleagues against infection and should seek professional healthcare advice if unwell. If a worker has any symptoms of COVID-19, they should not attend work. Workers should also avoid making contact with their face and in particular their eyes, nose and mouth. Where necessary, workers should wash their hands immediately before touching their face.

 

As noted above, the key to effective implementation of the infection prevention and control measures as well as occupational health and safety measures in the workplace is having strong communication and shared collaborative approach between employers and workers.

 

E. CUSTOMER FACING ROLES

Many of the measures noted above for workers can and should equally be applied for work activity that involves direct customer or visitor contacts.

 

Sea Clean Cleaning Solutions Ltd will:

  • eliminate physical interaction between workers and customers as much as is reasonably practicable through revised working arrangements. For example through the provision of online or phone orders, contactless delivery or managed entry.

  • provide hand sanitisers at entry/exit points.

  • install physical barriers and clear markings to ensure that contact between workers and customers is kept to a minimum and to ensure that queues do not form between customers as they wait to be served.

  • implement a cleaning regime to ensure that contact points for workers and customers are kept visibly cleaned at all times.

  • display the advice on the COVID-19 measures in visible locations to ensure that customers are also adhering to what is required.

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