IOSH Affiliate member Roger Dawley is a Health and Safety Advisor for Ongo, a large social housing provider in North Lincolnshire. The business provides safe and secure housing to more than 20,000 tenants.
Offering and maintaining excellent housing for tenants has always been Ongo’s highest priority and when Covid-19 hit, Roger and his team were determined to continue providing a seamless service. To keep their consistency, they quickly rearranged their working practices and moved the entire staff from working in an open-plan office to working from home.
Managing through the pandemic
To manage the business throughout the pandemic, they created a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) committee. The committee, chaired by the CEO, meet twice a week. The committee is an opportunity to discuss guidance and agreement on all aspects of Covid risk assessments and subsequent arrangements, plan safe systems of work and assess communications.
The business has developed and communicated a core organisational Covid-19 risk assessment. They also implemented a review process and all safe systems of work were signed off by the BCP committee.
Internal communication has been key for Ongo during the pandemic. A high-profile presence on the company’s intranet has been at the centre of their communication plan. All staff have been able to access Covid-19 Safe Systems of Work, risk assessments and Government advice via the intranet. And the health and safety team have kept in touch with the colleagues through regular online meetings with priority given to ensuring all teams understand and are able to embed new procedures.
Engagement meetings have allowed the chance to share and learn from experiences. The business is now thinking to the future and have a recovery and renewal plan in place. The plan represents a 4-stage approach that will allow the business to restore their working practices and be Covid-safe. Each stage considers separate areas of the business and highlights key controls that must be implemented to achieve each stage.
Roger said: “One stage of our approach has been focussed around the management of numbers on site. We’ve implemented an app-based booking system for desk space and it’s likely to be here for a while. It’s helped us to overcome the capacity difficulties at our busy site.”
The pandemic has highlighted to Ongo how important it is to maintain clear, consistent and reliable communication and consultation. They understand now, more than ever, how much staff appreciate being listened to and that common goals are vital in ensuring a positive outcome.
With an eye to the future, the Ongo health and safety team are well-equipped to manage any major changes the future may bring. Together, they are ready to take forward their learnings and transfer that knowledge into other health and safety initiatives across the business.