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My COVID-19 experience

My COVID-19 experience

During 2020 technology companies worked very hard to avoid the spread of Covid. Some great technology emerged during the year to avoid touching door handles and other commonly used surfaces. Interactive and innovative sanitising solutions became available along with security systems incorporating temperature sensing, occupancy counting and face mask detection. I am positive that no technology can entirely stop the spread of Covid, but I am certain it all helps.

I maintained social distance, I was careful to wash and sanitise my hands, I wore a face mask and gloves. I work in a safe environment and take my temperature every day before entering business premises. I did not contract Covid-19 from being at work, nor from social engagement. I contracted the virus, at home, in my lounge, on the sofa, most likely whilst enjoying a box set.

There was a long list of Covid symptoms throughout 2020, we were told what to look out for and when to get tested. My children attended school and very quickly there was a report of headaches. This was ignored, and since then a petition has been created to advise the government they need to be quicker in updating Covid symptoms and informing the public. Very quickly children stopped attending school and positive Covid tests increased at an alarming rate. My son, Freddie, came home with a headache just before the Christmas break. Freddie had a test, he was confirmed positive with Covid-19. I tested, my family tested, we were all negative.

Over the first two days of the Christmas break, Freddie isolated in his room, he touched absolutely nothing. His food was left outside his door, and of course being a typical 11 year old, as long as wifi was provided, he was generally in good spirits. However, trips to the toilet and occasional forgetfulness and strolling downstairs meant we did all share one thing – the air.

One piece of advice highly overlooked is the need for air circulation. 

This does not mean opening every window in the office or school, it would be freezing. The concept is very similar to that of smoke evacuation in fire safety, channeling the smoke in a certain direction through the building. We need to create the same behaviour for air to expel as quickly as possible in a controlled way. In our house, I opened the front window, and the back door, only. The fresh air was drawn in from one direction, pulled through the house and expelled from the back door. Wind, nicely helps to draw the air but having multiple windows and doors opened would create a whirlwind effect simply throwing the air everywhere and retaining it, this is what we need to avoid – Right-hand image needs to be avoided.

We managed to fend off the inevitable spread for 4 days using this practice. We all live together hence I use the word inevitable. However, in a school or office environment where people have shorter interactions, the above process can be VERY effective. 

If we approach this by believing everyone is infected, and secondly, imagining the virus as smoke, how can we avoid breathing in that smoke, and expelling it as quickly as it emits?

Holding fire doors open is a fire risk, this is common knowledge and something we all try to avoid, albeit in the wrong way. Triangular bits of wood are used, wedges I believe people call them, a swear word to me. Fireco products, Dorgard and Freedor, a retainer and door closer that can legally hold open a fire door, and close if the fire alarm activates are perfect products to help with fresh air inlets and exhausts for your building.

To finish my article, eventually we caught the dreaded virus, our entire family felt poorly, starting with dizziness. We all got retested, we were all now positive. We could only describe the feeling of flu for the majority of the illness, with severe dizziness and fatigue. The last symptom was the lack of taste, which whilst a strange sensation at first, became very depressing but finally cleared up over two weeks. Something I want to mention is at NO POINT did we have a temperature. When considering your return to work process, please please do not rely solely on reading temperatures, please enforce sanitising, with a product like Germgard. Please ensure staff wear face masks and please do not overlook the inexpensive solution of fresh air, it’s so important. If I hadn’t practiced this at home, we would have all become ill much sooner and not have been able to stagger the disease over the family and look after one another. 

We were very fortunate to stay out of hospital, and my heart goes out to people who have had a far worse experience. Stay safe. Please like and share, this is one thing we do want to go viral.

James Wheeler – Chief Commerical Officer l Fireco Ltd

Do your employees feel safe at your premises?

Do your employees feel safe at your premises?

The impact of the virus on society

Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists from all over the world have been researching the symptoms, transmission and prevention methods to help us better understand the virus.

In the meantime, we have all been following the ‘Hands, Face, Space campaign promoted by the Government in order to help keep everyone safe. With the belief that the best way to reduce the spread of the virus is to keep your hands clean and sanitised, wear a face mask in public and maintain a safe distance between yourself and others.

This year, we have gained a much higher awareness of the things we touch, whether it’s a shopping trolley, money or a door handle. We have also learned to risk assess our everyday surroundings, and social distancing and wearing a mask has become a habit for many.

However, day-to-day life has and will continue to be impacted by the virus. Returning to work, mixing with crowds or even seeing friends can seem daunting for those who have spent most of the year isolating. This raises the question – are employers and other establishments doing enough to support their employees and customers?

Are employers doing enough to keep the work environment safe?

To help you make your business a safe environment for employees, The Governments Health & Safety Executive (HSE) devised a Coronavirus Risk Assessment which identifies potential safety problems arising due to the pandemic and how they can be overcome.

One point included is “Mental health and wellbeing affected through isolation or anxiety about coronavirus”. Being isolated from lockdown and social distancing can heighten feelings of anxiety about going back to ‘normal’. Walking into a building after a few weeks or months and seeing nothing has changed can be very daunting for employees.

Before the first national lockdown ended, a study carried out by CIPD on 1000 working adults revealed that 44% of them were anxious about returning to work due to the potential risk of catching the virus.

Since then, a study carried out by Slater and Gordon, employment law specialists, uncovered that 46% of key workers have whistle blown on their employers for unsafe practices during the pandemic. With concerns ranging from lack of PPE, no social distancing measures in place or people being forced to return to work even if they are classed as vulnerable.

With the news that local councils will have the power to close businesses if they are not COVID-secure, it is vital to ensure your employees feel safe at work. These powers include an order for immediate action to be taken, closures for up to a week and fines if no action is taken.

What measures can be put in place to make a COVID-secure environment?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Fireco has been helping many businesses stay safe, reduce cross-contamination and improve hygiene with our simple germ control solutions.

Our Germgard Smart Sanitising Station is a portable hygiene stand that encourages the use of hand sanitiser to all building users. It uses an infrared sensor and digital signage to capture the attention of the passer-by and ask them to sanitise their hands, which in turn will reduce cross-contamination on surfaces.

The digital signage is customisable and can be used as a building management tool, for example, you can advise staff to use your one-way system or to take their temperature when signing in.

The Germgard station is a portable device, so you can move it to the location that best suits your building, all it needs is a plug socket nearby.

Germgard helps you provide visual evidence that your company is taking adequate measures to keep your premises COVID-secure and will reassure your employees that they are safe in their work environment.

For more information about Germgard or other ways we can help with your COVID-secure strategy, visit our website www.fireco.uk or call us on 01273 320650.

The NHS improves infection control with Fireco

The NHS improves infection control with Fireco

At the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, hospitals were prepared for maximum capacity and steps were taken to ensure infection control. Alongside this, new hospitals were built in 10 days for the specific treatment of those who had caught the virus and the country was put into lockdown.

Whilst we usually focus on how our products will help with fire safety compliance, we knew that our products could contribute towards helping NHS sites with their infection control efforts.

Map showing locations of NHS sites Fireco has helped

Here’s how we’ve helped the NHS remain COVID-secure:

  • Dorgard SmartSounds were installed in 3 of the temporary Nightingale Hospitals in order to reduce touchpoints. Dorgard SmartSound holds the fire doors open safely meaning that door handles don’t need to be touched in order to gain access.
  • Freedor SmartSounds have been installed in NHS general hospitals in order to reduce touchpoints and improve access by reducing the need to touch door handles.
  • Freedor SmartSound was installed in a COVID-19 test lab. The staff were struggling with the doors and found that they were less efficient, as every time they entered or exited they needed to replace the gloves they were wearing and wash their hands. Since having Freedor SmartSound, they have been able to move freely.
  • Over 200 Dorgards were installed at an NHS warehouse. They hold the doors open meaning that employees don’t need to touch the door handles, reducing cross-contamination.
  • Germgard is being installed in an NHS office base to ensure the use of hand sanitiser by all staff before entering the workplace. This is being installed to align with their Coronavirus Risk Assessment in relation to germ control.

From the start of the pandemic, our products have helped many different establishments with their germ control efforts, including the NHS, schools, offices and more.

If you’d like to know how Fireco can assist with germ control in your building. Contact us today, on 01273 320650.

How can Fireco help the NHS?

Back to school safely with Fireco

Back to school safely with Fireco

Staff and students will be returning for the new year so it’s important to make sure your school is prepared and has all the necessary safety measures in place to remain COVID-secure.

Places of education have a duty of care to students and will already use the Governments advice on Health and Safety. However, it is important that a specific Coronavirus Risk Assessment is completed. By doing this, Coronavirus hazards can be identified, measured and controlled.

There are different resources available for Coronavirus Risk Assessments, however, The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has created this template which can be used by all industries.

Fireco’s products have already been helping many businesses, hospitals and schools with their germ-control. Here are some of the hazards identified by HSE that Fireco can help with.

Ventilation

Buildings should have good ventilation and fresh air circulating throughout. Our hold-open devices allow you to legally and safely hold your doors open which will improve airflow. When the fire alarm is activated, the doors will automatically close. With colder weather approaching, it’s important to have other methods in place to ensure good ventilation throughout your school, as keeping the windows open won’t always be a suitable option.

Pinch points

High traffic areas in the school such as Reception, hallways, doorways, toilets, lifts, changing rooms, canteens, break rooms etc are going to need to be monitored. Our hold-open devices will allow you to keep your doors open, reducing the need to touch door handles, limiting the risk of cross-contamination. Our Smart Sanitising System, Germgard, can be installed by entry and exit points, which will promote the use of hand sanitiser before passing through.

Anxiety around Coronavirus

Being isolated from lockdown and social distancing can heighten feelings of anxiety about returning to normal activities such as attending school. Many students and staff members will need assurances and physical evidence that there are practices in place to maintain hygiene. Germgard is a clear and visual way to encourage good hygiene. A sensor will detect someone approaching and a screen with digital signage will prompt them to use hand sanitiser before entering. This system could be ideal for a reception area, break room, or delivery bay as staff and visitors passing through will use hand sanitiser before being allowed entry. Our hold-open devices can create a more open atmosphere and reduce the need to touch door handles, this could also be encouraging for people who are concerned about contaminated surfaces.

Inadequate hygiene

If people on the school premises are not keeping up good personal hygiene, they could easily cross-contaminate items they touch. Germgard is designed to promote good hygiene practices to building users through the use of hand sanitiser. It can also be integrated with access control and other systems to further reinforce sanitisation by only allowing entry once the sanitiser has been used.

Fireco can help keep schools fire-safe and COVID-secure. If you would like to know how we can help your school, contact us today on 01273 320650.

How Fireco can help with your Coronavirus Risk Assessment

How Fireco can help with your Coronavirus Risk Assessment

Coronavirus lockdown restrictions are gradually lifting and a phased plan is in place to reopen businesses. This means that all businesses must prepare return strategies in order to make their building safe for staff, customers and visitors.

The Government’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has devised a COVID-19 Risk Assessment designed for employers to use in order to ensure their workplace COVID-19 secure. The guidance aims to help businesses identify and manage the risks associated with reopening during the pandemic.

Employers should already have a standard Risk Assessment in place in order to keep their employees and others safe, as this is part of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This existing Risk Assessment can be adapted in order to suit the current risks associated with Coronavirus. The basic steps to creating a Risk Assessment include:

  • Identify hazards: What could cause injury or illness?
  • Measuring the level of risk: How likely is it that the risk will lead to injury or illness?
  • Take action: Reduce risks or, if possible, eliminate them.

If you need help to identify potential areas of risk in your business, HSE has put together a COVID-19 Risk Assessment template which can be printed and filled out. 

Fireco products can help you reduce the risks and contribute towards keeping your building germ free.

Here are some of the hazards that the HSE include in their assessment that Fireco can help with.

“Poor workplace ventilation leading to risks of coronavirus spreading”

Our hold-open devices will allow you to legally and safely hold your doors open throughout the building, improving airflow

“Getting or spreading coronavirus in common use high traffic areas such as canteens, corridors, restrooms, toilet facilities, entry/exit points to facilities, lifts, changing rooms and other communal areas.”

We have a range of products which can help with germ control for pinch points and shared surfaces. Our hold-open devices will allow you to keep your doors open, reducing the need to touch door handles, limiting the risk of cross-contamination. Our Smart Sanitising System, Germgard, can be installed by entry and exit points, which will promote the use of hand sanitiser before passing through.

“Mental health and wellbeing affected through isolation or anxiety about coronavirus”

Being isolated from lockdown and social distancing can heighten feelings of anxiety about going back to ‘normal’. Walking into a building after a few weeks or months and seeing nothing has changed will be very daunting for employees. Our hold-open devices can create a more open atmosphere and allow people to pass through without having to touch door handles. Germgard is a clear and visual way to show people that you have safety measures in place.

“Getting or spreading coronavirus by not washing hands or not washing them adequately”

Germgard is designed to promote good hygiene practices to building users through the use of hand sanitiser. It can also be integrated with access control and other systems to further reinforce sanitisation by only allowing entry once the sanitiser has been used.

Fireco’s product range can help unite both your COVID-19 and Fire Risk Assessments. If you would like to know how we can help your business with germ control and fire safety, contact us today on 01273 320650.

Social media giant turns to Fireco to assist with their return to work strategy

Social media giant turns to Fireco to assist with their return to work strategy

Fireco has been working closely with a high-profile social media platform client based in Soho, London, to provide an innovative and practical solution to guard against the transmission of germs in the working environment. The client wanted to find a solution that would work immediately, but which would also continue to be of use after COVID-19.

“When investing in technology to help combat COVID-19 as part of a return to work strategy, it’s important to retain that investment, to make sure that the technology will provide business continuity in other areas, in this case, fire safety.”

Fireco manufactures fire safety products which will be critical in any business’s fire risk assessment.  Fireco products are designed to stop people wedging open fire doors, which prevents them from closing in the event of smoke and fire.

Fireco has deployed a fully integrated solution based on our Pro ecosystem, using Dorgard Pro units. These are fire door retainers which hold open fire doors legally, allowing the door to automatically close when the fire alarm sounds. The Dorgard Pros connect to a ProHub gateway through wireless mesh network connectivity.

The ProHub can be directly connected to any fire alarm panel, meaning the solution is suitable for Category A fire doors. This system is managed through cloud-based software and provides users with interoperability through integration between multiple systems using Fireco’s open-source SDK.

Our social media client was not alone in looking for a solution which answered both fire safety and germ control requirements. Across all sectors, our customer base appears to have quickly learnt that one of the biggest risks of infection transmission in the office was through door handles.

Holding fire doors open compliantly reduces the need to touch door handles, which helps to control the spread of infection through commonly touched hard surfaces. Having doors open will also keep your building well ventilated, which can make germs less likely to spread.

If you need assistance with your back to work strategy and long term building solutions, call us today 01273 320650

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