The seventh edition of the UK’s Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum’s guidance document for managing coronavirus risks in the sector has just been published.
It comes as the organisation says that the waste sector is now reaching a “new normal”.
The guidance comments that most waste management services have now resumed and most employers have achieved or are achieving their ‘new normal’. Therefore, some of its previous guidance may now be redundant, it says.
However, guidance about the changes in response to the virus remains on the document for reference purposes for employers and in the event of a local lockdown.
Known as INF013, the document now includes updates on where devolved public health guidance diverges and may interact with non-devolved workplace guidance. There are also clarifications on risk assessment processes and recording. And, the document includes updates to links and references from previous versions.
“My thanks for the diligence, patience, sagacity and indefatigability of the members of INFO13 working group”
Chris Jones, chair of the WISH Forum and director of risk management at Cory Riverside Energy, praised the contribution of the team behind the publication.
Mr Jones said: “My thanks for the diligence, patience, sagacity and indefatigability of the members of INFO13 working group. They are still as enthusiastic and focused as they were on issue one, a truly remarkable effort.”
As reported following the publication of the previous version of the document on 4 June, while revisions to the guidance will continue, they are unlikely to appear as frequently as in the past few months (see letsrecycle.com story).
The WISH Forum notes public health is a devolved matter, overseen by separate organisations in England, Scotland and Wales.
Workplace health and safety is not a devolved matter, the WISH Forum says, and for most waste management operations in all three countries the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the regulator.
Operators need to ensure they are fulfilling both their workplace and public health responsibilities and should read guidance with care to ensure they are applying the appropriate standards, the WISH Forum says.
It notes face-coverings governmental directions about face-coverings, which required by law when travelling as a passenger on public transport in England, differs in the devolved nations. Wearing a face-covering in the workplace is optional in England.
The WISH Forum says any crew member showing symptoms in a lorry cab shared by multiple people must be sent home immediately and instructed to apply for a Covid-19 test.
The remaining crew should not be allocated to a different crew, nor should a crew member from a different crew be allocated to fill the gap left by the person who has developed symptoms, unless they can travel separately and maintain Social Distancing when working, the WISH Forum says.
These restrictions could last for seven days, 14 days or longer, depending on the situation and devolved authority.
The WISH Forum says having a risk assessment in place does not ensure on its own that a workplace is secure against coronavirus.
“The risk assessment process should include a meaningful ‘interrogation’ of existing work practices and controls”
Employers must go beyond writing an assessment, the WISH Forum says; the precautions arrived at must be in place, monitored to ensure compliance and updated as required to reflect new information and developments.
The document reads: “The risk assessment process should include a meaningful ‘interrogation’ of existing work practices and controls to ensure they are adequate.
“Covid-19 has introduced a new factor, and the interrogation of existing controls and practices needs to take this into account.
“Starting with what current work practices and controls are and ‘reverse-engineering’ a risk assessment to justify these with no change is unlikely to represent the lowest reasonably practicable risk situation or be an acceptable practice.”