04 Sep Coping with Covid: Creating a safe working environment during the Covid-19 crisis
As a business operating over four sites across the UK, and with a team of over 700 staff, shutting down facilities due to Covid-19 was no small task.
Having closed its doors on 24 March, in line with UK Government guidance during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Gray & Adams management team were tasked with close examination of existing operational practices to redefine and innovate new ways of working and operating safely, in the new normal.
Gray & Adams is proud to support front line services through work with customers in the food service and pharmaceutical industries, it was therefore essential to respond swiftly and decisively, with clear and cohesive plan across the Group. Initial input from several key members of the Fraserburgh team was required to co-ordinate strategic planning of the processes for the Group, including James Gray, Tony Jones, James Hendry, Davy Smith and Gordon Harper – it was a real team effort to get everything in place.
Tony Jones, Group HSE Manager at Gray & Adams, explained.
“We began by speaking to our managers about creating an action plan for how we could best run each department safely and with a reduced workforce. This led to the creation and implementation of one-way systems including marked-out floor areas with tape, clear signage and arrows. We developed back to work risk assessment processes and procedures, such as temperature checks for all staff and contracted staff. We also designed a controlled movement process, which focused on ensuring each department was secure and supported as a stand-alone area, with restricted staff movement between departments. This means that, if someone is required in a different department, there are several processes to go through in order to grant access for this movement to take place.
At Fraserburgh, we installed hand sanitiser dispensers and hand basins in every department to ensure that there was sufficient access for handwashing throughout. In line with UK Government guidance, the first and last thing to be done by staff on entering their department or completing their shift is to wash their hands. The installation of toilets across the site was also undertaken to ensure sufficient staff access to bathrooms, with no need to share facilities between departments.
With safety at the forefront of every forensically planned decision, PPE is provided to all staff, including high-vis vests featuring social distancing messaging, disposable gloves, masks, visors and goggles. With some close proximity work unavoidable, Gray & Adams is also able to offer its staff air-fed hoods as a further precautionary safety measure.
Another consideration was for enhanced site security. Space was made for additional staff parking to ensure that personnel could remain on site and accounted for, for the duration of their shift. This was done in conjunction with clear guidance for staff on what to bring to work, for example bringing food and drink required for the day with them to site, with all canteens and communal areas, such as locker rooms, closed. It is clear through the conduct of the staff who have already returned to work, that the team have embraced the new environment created, whilst focusing on delivering the quality products and services which Gray & Adams is renowned for.
The first phase of staff was brought back to work in early May, beginning with panel and chassis builders, then a further phase of staff to begin construction of trailers which enabled manufacturing to resume at around 50% capacity across the Group. With continuous monitoring to ensure safe working, in June it was possible to increase staff numbers again, allowing the business to run at around 75% capacity and with plans to continue incremental phased return of staff, and shift work to ensure all safety measures and social distancing can be maintained.
This shift required 100% commitment from all Gray & Adams staff to successfully implement and adhere to new, socially distant, working practices. We were absolutely delighted with the way our team supported the business in this regard. Despite an entirely new way of working, we have seen our staff adapt, keep each other safe and wear the correct PPE throughout. In some instances, we have even found greater efficiency of performance in the new environment, partly through stringently controlled movement around our sites. This has also been good to see, as it points towards an engaged and determined team. We couldn’t be more pleased with their adaptability, conduct and performance at a hugely challenging time.”
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