Occupational Hygiene

Personal Exposure Monitoring During COVID-19

Thu 21/01/2021 - 16:14

As the nation gradually eases out of the Coronavirus lockdown and demand for rail services begins to rise, it is important that, as well as adhering to the health and safety guidelines enforced as a result of COVID-19, employers continue to protect the health and safety of their workforce by regularly monitoring the level of exposure to hazardous substances.

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While the health risks posed by COVID-19 will undoubtedly take precedence in these exceptional times, it is important for employers to continue to monitor other physical, biological and chemical hazards in the workplace to ensure that they are not overlooked. With this in mind, SOCOTEC’s Occupational Hygiene team remains operational to ensure that clients – including those within the rail industry – can continue to safely access occupational hygiene monitoring services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Personal exposure monitoring – COVID-19 control measures

When undertaking exposure monitoring services for clients – specifically, the need to attach monitoring equipment to personnel – SOCOTEC has introduced the following mandatory measures to ensure that health and safety is not compromised when carrying out this work, protecting employees and third parties while minimising the risk of spread of infection from COVID-19. This includes:

  • Washing hands and applying sanitiser prior to commencement of the works and when leaving site
  • Wearing protective gloves and disinfecting them after use
  • Disinfecting sample pumps, dosimeters and equipment before and after use via antibacterial wipes or a suitable alternative
  • One operative set up at a time while maintaining social distancing
  • Where social distancing cannot be achieved, a suitable alternative sampling method should be agreed, with all site contact and monitoring postponed if an alternative cannot be found
  • All observations should be undertaken at a safe distance of two metres (minimising the issue/use of physical paperwork such as questionnaires)
  • Samplers will be started prior to being handed over to clients.

Advisable measures when carrying out occupational hygiene monitoring on site include:

  • Staff will wear suitable RPE if requested by the client or if deemed necessary on arrival at site
  • Operatives to set up/calibrate sample trains in a well-ventilated room, away from the shop floor
  • Disinfect sample pumps/dosimeters/equipment with antibacterial wipes or a suitable alternative prior to leaving site
  • Where possible, sample trains to be kept separate during retrieval, using plastic bags to achieve this.

Finally, work will not be carried out and will be postponed until further notice if any of the below criteria are met:

  • Any work where it is not possible for staff to remain two metres away from others at all times
  • Any non-essential physical work that requires close contact between workers
  • Any work that requires skin-to-skin contact
  • Any work which cannot be completed with the correct routine hygiene and social distancing practices in place
  • Any work that involves the potential risk of transmission of COVID-19 between SOCOTEC/client employees and other contractors.

Environmental swabbing

With scientific research indicating that COVID-19 has prolonged tenacity on surfaces, employers must take all of the necessary precautions to ensure that frequently used touchpoints and surfaces in the workplace are regularly cleaned.  In order to assess the effectiveness of cleaning regimes, SOCOTEC has developed its new environmental swabbing method to specifically test for the presence of Sars-COV-2 (Coronavirus) using sterile swabs across a range of workplace environments – including public transportation – to test such surfaces as door/grab handles, switches, HVAC vents, control panels, table tops and seat backs.

If you would like to find out more about SOCOTEC’s new Environmental Swabbing method, click here.

‘Business Ready’ programme

As part of its comprehensive offering of testing, inspection and compliance services, SOCOTEC has recently introduced its Business Ready programme, comprising a series of support packages to provide organisations with the confidence and peace of mind that their staff can safely return to the workplace. These support packages are suitable for businesses of all sizes across a broad range of industries – including those within the rail sector – helping them to restart operations, define their business resumption plan, update their business continuity plans and lead their crisis management strategy.

In the UK, SOCOTEC’s packages are split into three key areas – Secure, Assurance and Certification – each of which offers an increasing level of support and expertise to ensure organisations are adhering to relevant legislation and best safety practices to lower the risk of viral transmission in the workplace. These packages can be tailored to your bespoke needs if the contents within does not precisely match your individual business needs:

Click on any of the links above to discuss how SOCOTEC’s Business Ready support packages can help your rail organisation during these uncertain times, or contact us to find out more about customising these support packages.

Occupational Hygiene – additional services

SOCOTEC continues to provide Occupational Hygiene services to prevent ill health caused by the working environment, all while adhering to the latest COVID-19 guidelines issued by the UK government. For a full list of services that we can support with during this challenging time, click here or get in touch.

Want to find out more about SOCOTEC's COVID-19 support services? Contact us

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