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Working safely through COVID-19: H&H Reeds

H&H Reeds, Penrith H&H Reeds, Penrith

Andy Jackson is Managing Director of creative print and graphic media company H&H Reeds, which operates out of premises in Carlisle and Penrith. He explains here how the company has adapted its operational procedures to allow continued safe working during the COVID-19 outbreak.

At the first signs of restricted business and following advice to protect high risk staff, we looked at our I.T. and communication methods to assess who could work from home and how manufacturing could continue with minimum staff on-site.

We quickly arranged for all our management, admin, sales and creative employees to be able to work from home.

The initial signs were that demand had declined to a point that during this time we would be digital only, focusing on customer support and providing digital artwork for clients. This changed at the end of the first week, starting with Cumbria County Council wanting a large leaflet run providing information on Covid-19 followed by work for Cumbria Police and the NHS who all needed additional communication during this time.

Using our Zoom meetings from home, our operational team organised a safe operating structure whereby the admin and artwork preparation was all done from home, meaning that a factory that normally has 40 people on site could produce a small amount of work with just a handful of staff, which created a much easier environment to control and make safe.

Before the government guidance, we had already put in place strict advice on distancing and increased hygiene measures with sanitiser stations and sterilising wipes for each workstation. There was no public access during this time, so the environment was easier to control and we made a point of only asking the lowest risk staff to come in to work, avoiding anyone who had members of their family with underlying conditions.

As demand has started to increase and indications grow that we will need a longer-term solution, we have needed to adapt our factory for when manufacturing staff numbers increase and customers will be allowed to visit the site.

We are lucky to have our own signage business, which we are currently utilising along with many of our customers to provide clear information for staff and customers on how to work and continue business in a safe manner. These include practical items such as acrylic screens in reception, floor markings showing a one way path with two metre distancing, guidance for suppliers and clients that entry to the site is by appointment only (they can phone us or ring the bell for controlled access to the building under our strict conditions).

Alongside the signage we are needing to make some physical changes and restrictions. We have adapted the flow through the factory to avoid contact, moved computer stations so people have increased space and closed areas such as our staff communal break room and drinks preparation area and shared fridge. We will also be opening doors and windows to increase fresh air circulation throughout the building.

When doing our risk assessment, one of the key factors to reducing risk is reducing numbers in the building at any one time. Our plan is that as significant numbers return to work in line with demand, we will introduce a new working day shift pattern to halve the number of employees in the building at any one time, giving everyone more space to keep safe.

We have asked for an external audit of all our procedures to take place in advance of significant staff numbers and the public being allowed back on-site.

If we have learnt anything throughout this process it’s that the situation is fluid, and you need to keep up to date with the latest information and adapt quickly and where possible anticipate the next changes you may need to take so that you’re ready to take action.

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