For many businesses in Sandwell, step four of the government’s Covid-19 roadmap on 19 July, easing most legal restrictions in England, was welcome. But how are local businesses adjusting to living with the virus? Robinson Brothers is an exemplar of companies showing the way to keep up safety measures for the benefit of their employees and the wider community in Sandwell.
Founded in 1869 and based in West Bromwich, Robinson Brothers is one of the UK’s largest independent chemical manufacturers of speciality chemicals.
Justin Owens, Human Resources Manager, said: “Nothing changed for us on Monday 19 July, when the government relaxed Covid-19 rules in England. We will still implement good hygiene practises in our day-to-day activities, and the wellbeing of our staff, contractors and visitors remain paramount.”
For the business these include:
• 2m + social distancing, Covid-19 signage and hand hygiene controls are still in place
- Staff are asked to wear face coverings in the buildings when they are out of their ‘work bubble’
- Everyone on site uses lateral flow tests (LFTs) twice a week, sending the test results to their managers
- Only critical contractors and visitors to the site are still allowed, and they have to provide a negative LFT before coming on to site, and go through a Covid-19 induction.
Justin said: “Weekly Covid-19 meetings with the management team still take place, but face-to-face meetings are still strongly discouraged and online meetings strongly encouraged. Working from home for those that can is still an option for our employees, and we have regular communications with staff and contractors. This means that the occupancy of offices, kitchens, mess rooms and other communal areas is reduced.
“Chairs have been removed to comply with room limits; sinks, toilets etc are marked as ‘out of use’ to comply with social distancing. One-way systems and floor markings reinforce social distancing.
“We also have an interview process for employees who register positive for Covid-19, and our internal track and trace procedure and contact log books are still in operation. In addition, we maintain a regular sanitising schedule, cleaning and disinfecting areas where positive Covid-19 personnel have been.
“These actions, and support from our staff, mean that we have had no positive Covid-19 cases, and only one employee who is self-isolating, due to a family contact.”
Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Despite the disruption and upset caused by Covid-19 in our communities, businesses like Robinson Brothers are an inspiration, showing the way for others to keep up the good work in managing the risks.
“I would remind everyone that Covid-19 cases are high and rising, and I would encourage all businesses to act carefully, to remain cautious and to maintain strong Covid-19 controls – as Robinson Brothers does.
“The NHS is also offering on-site vaccination clinics to companies with more than 100 staff, where around 50 might not be vaccinated. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.’’
Councillor Rajbir Singh, Leader of Sandwell Council, said: “It has been a very difficult time for many with the Covid-19 pandemic, and I want to thank the businesses of Sandwell – like Robinson Brothers – who continue to play their part, follow the rules and support their staff, contractors and the wider community. We came together in a show of community resilience and this unity will inspire us going forward.”
Take a look at our Coronavirus: support for Sandwell businesses pages and see how you can follow Robinson Brothers’ lead.