The nation has had to adapt to a ‘new normal’ to coexist safely with COVID-19, back in March, all eateries and pubs were ordered to close their doors to the public. The effects were felt particularly in the foodservice sector, with a significant decrease in demand for hospitality industry products and service. August’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme provided more normal times for the industry but the recent 10pm curfew brought a new obstacle to business.
As we face a second wave of the virus and are again under national lockdown restrictions for the month of November, The Billington Group will continue to prioritise the safety of employees, their families and that of their suppliers and clients.
We spoke to Group Health and Safety Manager, Phil O’Neill, about the protective and preventive measures that have been put in place to battle the virus on top of their existing high standard of hygiene practices as an industry leader.
“We have an incredible, dedicated workforce across the businesses under The Billington Group umbrella, all of whom are instrumental to our day-to-day operations, successes and growth, especially during this difficult time. We’ve carried out extensive risk assessments to ensure our sites are all in line with up to date government guidance, which are constantly adapted and managed as new information becomes available.”
Sharing best practice
“I’ve been working closely with other industry leaders through “The Best in Practice Safety” forum, adapting and building upon existing best practices whilst managing new information to constantly shape policies and procedures. This has kept our people safe throughout these unprecedented times to meet changing supplier and client demands with the same top-quality products and service The Billington Group are known for.”
“I’m incredibly proud of how everyone has pulled together, not only as a business, but as an industry. Our Health & Safety brand ‘Safety Starts with Me,’ and our slogan Be a STAR (stop think and act responsibly) model are used across all our sites, ensuring everyone knows they play a role in keeping themselves and those around them safe. Giving everyone accountability for their actions both in work and at home has been so important, it’s a real team effort to keep everyone safe and healthy. We’ve been educating our employees on how to stay vigilant outside of the workplace, so they can protect their colleagues and their families as well as ensuring we have sufficient staffing levels to manage the workload.”
Across our factories and offices
We’ve implemented a range of COVID-19 safety measures to keep our employees safe across all our sites:
- Temperature checks
- Plexiglass divider screens
- New layouts to meet social distancing guidelines
- Staggered shifts and breaks
- Converted rooms into canteens so people can eat and drink safely
- Questionnaires and signing in/out documents
- Sanitising stations
- Reduced staff where possible, with most encouraged to work from home if possible
- Minimal travel unless business critical
Staff wellbeing and mental health
“As a business, our employees’ mental health and wellbeing is a top priority. Now more than ever it’s important we have the right tools and practices in place to support them.
“We have an employee assistance programme and earlier in the year we set up an Employee Hardship Fund to help with the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak which mirrors the values of our company charity, The Billington Foundation, and provides support to our employees and their families during this difficult time.
“Work from home assessments have been carried out and are monitored to ensure staff feel supported and listened to if they’re struggling, identifying those who may be vulnerable.”
Successes and challenges
- We’ve had two very positive unannounced visits and four phone interviews with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
- Working with HSE and other industry leaders has ensured robust processes and procedures are in place to keep our people safe
- Ensured our PPE does not impede on other protective clothing and that existing robust day to day health and safety protocols are followed
- Worked hard to provide resources and education on how everyone can stay safe inside and outside of the workplace
- We are proactive rather than reactive to any potential threats of outbreaks
- Constantly monitoring the situation – locally, regionally and nationally and adapting accordingly. The health and safety of our people is of paramount importance to us