One thing which has been notable about the Covid-19 pandemic is the way that many of us have got used to new ways of working. Not least, it has demonstrated that most office-based jobs can be done from home, taking advantage of everyday IT. But there are some jobs where working from home simply isn’t an option. For roles that involve using scientific or engineering equipment, it’s clearly not feasible to replicate a lab at home. This becomes even more acute if the work involves biohazardous material or needs more powerful and secure IT equipment than is available at home. With the UK returning to work as lockdown restrictions are lifted, labs and research facilities need to think carefully about ensuring safety from Covid-19 risks. In this blog, we’ll look at some recent government guidance for the sector, and how Safe Hub can fit in with everyday work practice to protect research lone workers in such facilities.
Laboratories and research facilities get government guidance on working safely
As more organisations return to work, the UK government has issued guidance for several sectors of the economy on how to ensure that they work safely during the pandemic. The guidance for laboratories and research facilities is here. This gives examples of such workplaces, which include engineering centres, clean rooms, prototyping centres, computer labs, simulators, material development labs and specialist testing rooms.
As with every type of organisation across the UK, a great starting point is to carry out a new risk assessment specifically around Covid-19 risks. Of course, labs and research facilities will already have rigorous safety protocols in place. But employers will also need to think carefully about honing and extending procedures to take into account such elements as more frequent deep cleaning and social distancing. Labs and research facilities require on-site collaboration between people, often in close proximity. The flexibility of both shifts and floor layouts may be limited and there is a high use of multiple-use items such as testing machines and apparatus, not all of which can be washed down.
The full range of health and safety risks for research lone workers
For research lone workers in particular, sound policies and procedures are vital to ensuring their health and safety. In terms of specific Covid-19 risks, social distancing may not seem to be such an issue for research lone workers. However, for those facilities who have regular visitors, this might still be an issue. And in any case, there is still the risk of contact transmission, especially if there is shared access to tools and other materials. There will also be issues around the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). For instance, while many roles already involve face coverings, they may need to be considered for all employees and visitors in some facilities.
Even outside the pandemic, research lone workers face a number of risks to their health and safety during their work. Indeed, many of these risks centre on accidents, for which provision of first aid should clearly take priority. They may be subject to slips, trips and falls, which may be further complicated by needle stick injuries. But workers could also be particularly at risk when entering or exiting the premises. This is especially true if there are drugs on-site or if their work is perceived to be controversial.
All-round protection for research lone workers with Safe Hub
Safe Hub serves to mitigate all such risks. In the event of an accident or dangerous situation, research lone workers can trigger an emergency Red Alert. This puts them in direct contact with the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), who can use GPS Locate to direct the police to their precise location. If they’re incapacitated by an accident and can’t signal for help, then the reactive Worker Down feature comes into its own. For proactive support, research lone workers can confirm their welfare at agreed intervals using Safe Check, by responding to automated prompts. And the Safe Beacon virtual barrier can provide them with dynamic risk notifications. This is particularly useful if they’re operating in environments which may be time-limited, for instance when working with hazardous materials.
With Safe Hub, research lone workers have access to powerful lone worker protection whatever risks they may face. Whether it’s deployed on the Safe Hub App for smartphones or a dedicated device, they’ll have a range of support features available to them. It’s our business to provide peace of mind to research lone workers and their employers. #ResearchLoneWorkers #BackToWork #LowestTotalCost #LoneWorkerSafety
To find out more about working safely during the Covid-19 pandemic for research lone workers, contact Lone Worker Solutions and the Safe Hub team today.
Post by Henry Robinson
As an Account Manager at Lone Worker Solutions (LWS), Henry introduces new clients to Safe Hub, our award-winning system to protect and monitor lone workers. Safe Hub is a package of emergency buddy, proactive, reactive, broadcast and virtual barrier protection for lone workers. The system supports lone and remote workers on the widest possible array of BS8484:2016 Gold Certified devices, including Android, Apple and Windows smartphones, BlackBerrys, standard mobiles, PCs, intrinsically safe devices, specialist personal safety devices and satellite phones.