Workplace assessments for non-clinical areas FAQs

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Over the last few weeks the Trust has reviewed nearly all its premises to undertake risk assessments. This is based on the Workplace Assessments for Non-Clinical Areas publication and supports us through the steps to identify any additional actions that are required to keep you safe.

It's important to also remember that COVID-19 hasn’t gone away and while restrictions are being eased, we enter a period which will be a fine balance. During this period community spread will occur and therefore level 2 PPE must be used, handwashing and social distancing are still paramount.

Please see some frequently asked questions below. You can also download and print these in the document below. 

Whilst the rest of the country is easing restrictions, why are we making changes? Should this have been done earlier?
This is about ensuring that we, as a responsible employer, are adhering to the Government and national guidance from AACE for working in non-clinical areas. This is in the same as shops or other business.

I have had to cope with communication issues about masks and PPE and now we may find we may have to endure wearing PPE for some time to come.
In the initial stages of the outbreak information, was changing daily, sometimes hourly. EEAST did their very best to keep you up to date. At times by the time message had been cascaded the information had changed, we know this was frustrating for you. We want to share as much information as possible as soon as we are able. We know that email is not always the best way to communicate; it is the quickest way to inform as many people as possible that these risk assessments were being undertaken.

During the outbreak, crews have been on standby 3 deep in some situations; Is it not too late to be doing this?
You have been doing a great job continuing to deliver a service through these difficult times. You will have found that contrary to our expectation there was a reduced call volume in April, May and June, causing there to be more people on station than usual, where space is challenged this led to poor social distancing controls.

The current work will ensure better station capacity for breaks etc. It is very difficult to get things 100% correct first time. We are working through and unprecedented situation, at a frantic pace of change; this is a good time to pause, reflect, learn, and improve. Maintaining safe social distancing on station will continue to mitigate the risk of cross-infection and will protect our staff as well as our patients.

I am currently shielding, what will this mean for me when I return to work?
You will have an individual risk assessment completed your manager prior to your return to work, this will consider your role and responsibilities - this work is limited to non-clinical areas only. If additional control measures are identified for your workspace then these can be implemented.

What kind of changes should we expect?
You will be required take your temperature when you enter your place of work at the start of your shift and to make a record of this. You will see more ‘watch your distance’ signs around the building where you work. All rooms will identify how many people can safely socially distance in that room.

Why will we remain with a 2m distancing rule when the Government has said that the public can relax to 1m?
It is recognised that working within healthcare poses more risk of exposure to COVID-19, therefore Public Health England (PHE) advice remains that we should continue to observe the 2m rule wherever possible.

I am due to have a private meeting with my manager who has a small office, is there any guidance for this?
Check the maximum number of people sign. Where the meeting is lasting less than 15 minutes this is deemed low risk. Please use facemasks if you are unable to socially distance.

If it is longer than 15 minutes, or the number of people attending the meeting be more than allowable in the room consideration should be given to whether the meeting can take place virtually (via MS Teams or Zoom for example) or finding an alternative suitable space.

Should the Trust not consider permanent crewmates during this time to reduce the risks of cross-infection?
We recognise that this would reduce the risk, however we also appreciate that to change rotas etc and short notice would cause disruption for staff. Should you wish to discuss the prospect of a permanent crew mate during this time, please approach your AGM in the first instance to discuss. We will need to consider such things as rota changes, skill mix, availability of fleet etc, and we will also need to make our decision along with the lead planner. You will understand that we still need to ensure that we are able to cover a full range of shifts so that we can operate a safe, quality service for our patients and staff. This is in line with guidance from AACE and where practically possible we will aim to support.

I use a stand-by point that is shared with another emergency service what does this mean for us?
The buildings owned by the Fire and Police services will have had a risk assessment carried out. The rooms used solely by ambulance staff will be risk assessed, and confirmation of the plans in place for shared areas considered. You will still see signage within the ambulance crew-rooms at these sites. Most are not suitable for more than 2 people at any one time.


Published 21st July 2020


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