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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.

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

Have you thought about your return to work strategy post-COVID-19?

Have you thought about your return to work strategy post-COVID-19?

As we edge towards the end of the Covid-19 lockdown phase, businesses are starting to look at their return to work strategies, and making their sites as safe as possible.

Many questions have been raised as to what the “new normal” will look like, but health and safety compliance will be just as important as ever. This means not only looking at ways to keep buildings fire safe, but also how to manage the spread of germs on shared surfaces. This will come from sensible staff management, social distancing and giving staff the correct equipment to manage their own safety effectively.

Fireco manufactures a range of self-install devices which allow doors to be held open compliantly. What does this mean for your staff? By holding the door open, you reduce the number of times people need to touch the door handle when going in or out of the room.

All our hold open solutions are fire-rated and can be used on all nominal and certified fire doors in a building. Brian Hughes from Venator, a leading global chemical company, has recently purchased 19 units. He said:

“I contacted Fireco today to enquire about the use of Dorgard for our doors. We are planning a return to work strategies and Dorgard is a safe way to keep our fire doors open and help stop the potential spread of germs”.

Fireco can help with your back to work strategies, call us today 01273 320650

COVID-19: What Will Be The Long Term Effects On Society?

COVID-19: What Will Be The Long Term Effects On Society?

Through this pandemic, many technologies have leapt into our day-to-day lives of lockdown and working from home, becoming an absolute necessity, as opposed to an alternative reserved for the young and tech-savvy.

Whether it’s conference call platforms, social media, multimedia mediums or internet shopping, we are now relying on these technologies for everything. They are keeping businesses moving, they’re putting food on our tables and they are helping us keep in touch with our loved ones. Technology has become our friend and, in some cases, our saviour.

The Door Handle Contamination Dilemma

There is a lot we don’t yet know about COVID-19. What we do know is that like common respiratory viruses, including flu, COVID-19 is spread in tiny droplets released from the nose and mouth of an infected person when they cough or sneeze.

The greatest risk comes from contamination from touched surfaces where the infection can be passed from one to another.

A shared surface such as a door handle quickly becomes a hazard and government advice has included regular disinfection of regularly touched objects and surfaces to reduce the risk of passing on the infection.

Fire Door Technology is Combatting COVID-19

Fireco, a technology company based in Brighton, England, has been working for over twenty years to help with the issue of fire doors being wedged open. Fire doors should be kept shut to control the spread of smoke and fire in buildings, and a common, serious problem is people wedging these doors open to allow for fresh air and easy access.

Fire doors should be kept shut to control the spread of smoke and fire in buildings, and a common, serious problem is people wedging these doors open to allow for fresh air and easy access

Fireco’s door retainers and door closers hold fire doors open compliantly. When the fire alarm sounds, the products will release the door to close through either acoustic or radio activation. They are wire-free and can be easily installed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fireco’s customer base reached out and told us that we are helping to resolve more issues than just illegally wedged open doors.

Fireco products are fitted to doors across multiple industries including NHS premises, COVID-19 test labs, critical infrastructure, schools, commercial offices and factories.

These buildings’ occupants are so pleased, because people are able to walk freely around them without having to touch door handles, which has helped reduce the spread of germs, providing protection to all occupants, many of whom are key workers on the front line in the fight against COVID-19.

We are happy that, in this way, Fireco is helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

What Will The New Normal Look Like?

It is natural to focus on the immediate when the crisis is all consuming and impacting our lives so dramatically, but we should not forget that in the not too distant future, the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 will be eased, and we move from survival mode into recovery mode, we need to consider what the new normal will look like.

One major challenge we will face is economic recovery. Businesses will be looking for employees to return to work and play their role in the recovery process as soon as it is practical. But this raises questions around what needs to be done to make employees comfortable in coming back to work.

What will they expect? What will an employer’s duty of care look like in the new world?

Working From Home

Managers have had a chance to witness their staff work from home, self-manage, and deliver. By working at home, everyone arrives to work on time. Car use and fuel costs are reduced and parking is no longer a problem.

Meetings work online. You don’t always have to be face-to-face; deals can be negotiated over the phone. Trust and relationships can be built remotely, as opposed to physically shaking someone’s hand.

Business and their workforces have had to adapt, but after adaption, have we now entered into acceptance? Is there an opportunity to embrace these forced changes as the new modus operandi because, quite simply, they are efficient, effective and reliable? Surely, this is just evolution with the added bonus of continuing to give the environment a break.

Health and Safety A Primary Pandemic Concern

Even with some businesses choosing to shift towards working remotely and using technology in place of face-to-face interactions, business premises will still be as important as they are today.

However, what is important in the workplace is likely to change. We will be more interested in the quality of the hand sanitizer than the coffee.

We will all want to be assured that businesses are taking their duty of care seriously, and that our place of work is a safe place to be. The return to work should be a positive experience, not a cause for concern.

What is important in the workplace is likely to change. We will be more interested in the quality of the hand sanitizer than the coffee

Worries over health and safety risks are likely to distract from the job in hand in helping to recover the business and make the whole process of returning to work a lot less enjoyable for all.

Day-to-day life has and will continue to be impacted by social distancing. The very thought of returning to work and mixing with large crowds raises questions around trust. Will other people keep up with best practices around hygiene? This cannot be taken for granted, and I for one will be very cautious in the coming months.

Getting Back To Work

It is highly likely that businesses will need to make both physical and operational changes if they want ‘getting back to work’ to be a success, and technology has a key role to play in this.

Recognising the importance of easing everyone back into their workplace gently and carefully is important. Never has so much attention been paid to what you touch.

From the minute you walk into a building, you start touching things. By the time you get to your workspace you are likely to have opened several doors and touched several door handles. By removing the need to touch these door handles by fitting a Fireco door retainer, you are proactively managing the risk level, and it is clear for all to see.

Removing the need to touch door handles is not enough on its own. When used with other measures such as enhanced hygiene practices, the provision of hand sanitizers, and the introduction of new and more flexible approaches to working life, you can clearly demonstrate that you are taking the health and safety of your employees seriously.

There are unanswered questions as we travel through this journey together, but what is clear is that our behaviours and focus have shifted, and as with most changes it is the approach that determines the outcome.

We were not given the opportunity to plan our approach to this crisis. However, we have just about got time to plan our approach to our recovery and how we manage ‘getting back to work’.

The Search For Normality And Stability

Humanity has been tested, and you don’t have to look far to see that we have responded positively with acts of kindness, respect and a common purpose.

Even countries previously at war with one another have come together. British manufacturers have re-modelled overnight to provide our health organisations with vital medical equipment for free, to help all our loved ones survive and recover.

Humanity has been tested, and you don’t have to look far to see that we have responded positively with acts of kindness, respect and a common purpose

Most importantly, through this entire crisis, we have looked after one another emotionally, developing relationships that will last forever. This crisis is not something we will ever forget, nor wish to shut the door on.

It is an indelible part of our common experience and something we should continue to learn from as we move forward in the search for normality and stability.

Fresh air is good for your brain

Fresh air is good for your brain

Summer is finally here, and the sun is shining (sometimes). As the weather improves, people in workplaces often suffer with uncomfortable working conditions — either stuffy and hot or freezing cold from temperamental air conditioning. It can be difficult to know what to wear from one day to the next!

A lack of fresh air circulating through buildings can really cause problems in the summer months. Many studies have shown the importance of ventilation and fresh air in the workplace. Study after study has shown that the amount of fresh air brought inside is important for health.

Good ventilation has been shown to reduce sick building syndrome and people taking days off for illness. Sick building syndrome, caused by poorly designed and ventilated buildings, includes symptoms such as eye irritation, headaches, coughing and chest tightness.

A recent Harvard University study found that breathing better air lead to significantly better decision-making among participants. The authors of the study strongly recommended that employers take action to optimise air quality to improve employees’ health and productivity.

A healthier environment

There are many other factors that contribute to an unhealthy work environment, such as sitting at a desk for long periods of time, bad posture, unhealthy snacking and a lack of movement during the day. When considering all health and safety matters in the workplace, it is important to ensure that air quality for employees is as good as it can be.

Better air helps workers think better, and improves productivity and health. Closed doors throughout an office can reduce the amount of fresh air that flows around a building, leading to poor ventilation.

Fire doors need to be closed to protect workers and buildings in the event of fire, so it’s important to find ways that hold them open legally, allowing them to close automatically when an alarm sounds. Fireco can help with solutions that do just that.

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