3 August 2020 by James Langley

Eighth WISH Covid-19 guidance document published

The eighth edition of the UK’s Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum’s document for managing coronavirus risks in the sector was published today (3 August) with more observations on masks and face coverings.

Known as INFO13, the document now includes notes on dealing with employees returning from furlough and mention of the move from seven to 10 days self-isolation. There is also increased information and discussion about masks and face coverings, including a new appendix on the pros and cons of their use.

WISH publishes guidance and information on a series of health and safety topics for the waste management industry

Chris Jones, chair of the WISH Forum and director of risk management at Cory Riverside Energy, once again praised the contribution of the team behind the publication.

Mr Jones said: “In addition to debating, researching and assimilating the responses to the challenges and feedback that WISH continues to receive no small amount of effort is having to be put into checking, rechecking and updating the existing links in the document, as well us reviewing and adding the ever increasing amount of information being made available by HMG, the devolved administrations, the TUC and others.

“My thanks for the perseverance and fortitude of the members of INFO13 Working Group for undertaking these tasks with passion and diligence.”

The document can be read here.

Self-isolation

The document states that, should an employee show symptoms of Covid-19 while at work, they should be instructed to leave work immediately and follow government advice.

Chris Jones is chair of the WISH Forum and director of risk management at Cory Riverside Energy

They should be instructed not to return to work until free of fever, feeling well enough and a minimum of 10 days has elapsed since the first onset of symptoms, WISH says. Previously the advice had stated seven days would be sufficient. WISH also notes government and devolved administration advice can recommend a longer period of self-isolation in some cases.

WISH says employees returning to work after a period of self-isolation or having recovered from Covid-19 may face an adverse reaction from their workmates for reasons of a perceived continuing risk of infection.

The document reads: “Whatever the validity or otherwise of such reactions, employers should be aware of this risk and manage returns to work to avoid potential discrimination. For example, the reinforcement of anti-bullying policies and similar.”

Face masks

WISH draws a distinction between face masks and face-coverings. Face masks are manufactured to formal standards, such as EN or equivalent standards, and often have a protection rating applied to them, such as FFP3, WISH says. The term face-covering includes homemade coverings, snoods and scarves and various other similar items of face-covering available from online and other suppliers.

WISH says few can have failed to notice the increased use of face-coverings

Regarding face masks, the need for RPE (respiratory protection equipment) to protect from coronavirus must be based on risk assessment, WISH says. The document states that, where an employer decides to provide RPE or masks for reasons of reassurance rather than for personal protective reasons, employers may want to make this clear to their employees.

Face-coverings

With regard to face-coverings, WISH notes government guidance reads: “Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one.”

WISH says some employees may go beyond face-coverings and come to work wearing formal RPE they have purchased themselves. In these cases, employers may wish to communicate to them that such RPE should not be relied on for protection, neither for wearer nor their workmates, and that the normal employer duties for RPE do not apply, WISH says.

The updated document now includes an appendix outlining the pros and cons of wearing face masks and coverings.

Furlough

WISH added that employees returning from furlough may also receive an adverse reaction and resentment from those who have worked throughout the lock-down period and employers may need to consider this.

This effect may be particularly significant if those who continued to work feel that those who have been on furlough have ‘had an easy time of it’, WISH says.

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