COVID-19 has presented us all with significant challenges, and whilst government restrictions and guidance continue to change on a weekly basis, we must remain vigilant and ensure we adhere to the newest procedures. Faithful+Gould continues to support organisations in adapting to these ever-changing restrictions and our Health & Safety (H&S) team has been at the forefront of our successes this year.
At the height of the outbreak Faithful+Gould has helped numerous clients with safe project and team re-mobilisations by revising their H&S strategies and enforcing rigorous safety measures. During the lockdown we also started working with Leeds Trinity University towards their safe reopening. Our main objective was to create a safe but enjoyable environment for students, ensuring their health and safety is not compromised.
We have developed and implemented a controlled process and safety system to allow staff and students to confidently return to campus, including but not limited to:
- Developed safe systems of works that assess risk and produce COVID-19 specific risk assessments and procedures.
- Developed a Business Contingency Plan in the event of an outbreak.
- Established an effective capacity management system on campus and clear protocols to manage COVID-19 cases.
- Implemented one-way systems around the buildings and campus.
- Provided advice and guidance with the implementation of a robust proactive and reactive cleaning regime.
- Carried out assessments of workspace and teaching spaces to determine maximum occupancy numbers to enable social distancing. We have also assessed the planning and logistics of moving cohorts around campus to maximise a safe site usage.
- Audited and reviewed the procedures implemented as well as risk assessments to ensure they are in line with current government guidance and are effective.
Once the above steps were taken to reduce the risks, the University adapted to blended teaching and learning, with a mixture of online learning and on-campus teaching sessions by adhering to our safety measures and carefully managed numbers for face-to-face sessions.
Our combined efforts and ambitions to ensure the University’s staff and students’ safety has also led us to respond to the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase the availability of mass testing. Together with the University and in partnership with the NHS and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), we have worked on the delivery of the asymptomatic COVID-19 testing site within the existing gymnasium at the University.
Within a two-week period, we successfully mobilised a project team, and supported the Leeds Trinity team as they recruited and trained a workforce and developed and implemented a booking system whilst the testing centre itself was built in just four days.
Our H&S team immersed themselves as part of the University’s integrated team and worked together to contribute to the development, coordination and management of everything from developing communications and engagement plans, carrying out risk assessments, mobilising contractors and arranging clinical waste, to running the site and supervising the testing process.
The on-campus testing centre was launched and fully operational on Monday 30th November to provide students with the opportunity to get tested and safely return home for Christmas. It will reopen in January for the Test to Return programme.
John Hawksworth, Director of Human Resources at Leeds Trinity University, said:
“We’re delighted to be working with Faithful+Gould and have built a strong partnership over the last nine months. During this time, we’ve worked collaboratively to respond to the challenges of the pandemic and honour our commitment to offer blended teaching and learning to students in a COVID-secure way. We look forward to continuing to focus on the safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and community together.”
While the ongoing pandemic has undoubtedly been a huge challenge to the higher education sector, our collaboration with Leeds Trinity University, NHS and DHSC has showcased that it can be safely managed. By working together and taking the right decisions now, we can emerge from this crisis in a more robust state than before the pandemic and continue to provide a successful and safe environment for all.