Our response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

How we are protecting our people

Introduction 

The challenge that Coronavirus (COVID-19) presents has been both unprecedented and devastating for many, and is changing how we live and work.

At EKFB, our position is that the safety, health and wellbeing of our people is always our priority and will never be compromised.

On this page, you can see updates on how we are responding to this challenge, what we’re doing to keep our people safe and how our plans are adapting to this constantly changing situation. We have followed and often exceeded the measures advised by the Government to keep our people safe and healthy and maintain business continuity.

 

You can also find out what our Wellbeing Champions are doing to help our people support each other. They have put together a programme of social and communications activities, from an online virtual coffee shop to fitness and yoga sessions, all online.

Please click the links below to see what we are doing in the following areas:

Our approach

What are we doing to help our people?

Wellbeing activities at EKFB 

Update 23.03.2020 

Update 17.03.2020 

Update 16.03.2020 

Update 04.03.2020 

28.01.2020 

31.01.2020 

Our approach 

Since returning to work at the start of 2020 we have kept a watching brief on the Coronavirus situation. In mid January when it became clear it was escalating, we convened our Business Continuity Group to meet weekly and assess our response to the changing situation. 

We have followed Government advice since the beginning of the escalation, including anticipating future advice, where we have taken action in advance. For example, we mandated that all employees who could, should work from home very early in the process. 

As the pace of events has increased, we have replaced Business Continuity meetings with twice daily online meetings of the Senior Leadership Team to review the continuously changing situation and determine actions to be taken. 

What are we doing to protect our people? 

  • The implementation of remote working was highly successful and supported by existing systems such as Microsoft Teams and policies like our Working Practices Policy

  • All of our remote workers have been trained in the effective use of the business tools available to them

  • We are suspending our site activity and operations until we can comply with the guidelines published by Public Health England. This consists of some Ground Investigation works and water management and represents around 5% of our activity on HS2

  • Sites were asked to draw up safe closure plans as an early business continuity measure. This means that suspension of work can be achieved safely and quickly

  • We have introduced a package of measures to keep track of our people's health and wellbeing and to support them through this period. This includes our Employee Assistance Programme and empowering our Wellbeing Champions to monitor and maintain our people's wellbeing

 

Wellbeing activities at EKFB 

We have a community of ‘Wellbeing Champions’ whose role, in addition to their day jobs, is to provide wellbeing support to our people. They are trained as Mental Health First Aiders and support colleagues to spot the symptoms of mental health issues, offer initial help and guide people towards support. However, their main focus is not simply to react to existing issues, but to help our people to take positive steps to prevent mental health issues in the first place, giving them them the tools to care for their wellbeing in a positive working environment.

 

It is more important than ever to do everything we can to help our people cope with the external situation and give them opportunities to connect with each other. With full support from our Leadership, our Wellbeing Champions have put together the following programme of events: 

  • Virtual coffee shop 

  • Online yoga sessions 

  • Online fitness sessions 

  • Weekly quiz 

  • Virtual swap shop 

  • Bite size learning sessions in managing wellbeing 

  • Wellbeing/EDI Champions telephone staff contact 

  • Wellbeing info email 

  • Online Language lessons 

  • Online mindfulness sessions 

 

We’ve always had a busy social life at EKFB and many of our social activities have moved online. We have virtual ‘Thirsty Thursday’ – a Teams meeting after work to replace our fortnightly social. The EKFB book club has moved its meetings to Teams, and we’re working on a dice based version of five a side football. 

Update 23.03.2020 

Government announces new measures: 

  1. Everyone must stay at home, except for very limited purposes

  2. Closure of non-essential shops and community spaces 

  3. No gatherings of more than two people in public 

 

Given the measures that EKFB has already put in place, this does not change our position for the vast majority of our people, who are already working from home. 

 

In order to keep our people safe and to comply with the government announcement EKFB has taken the following steps: 

  • The office at 19 Cornwall Street will be closed until further notice (the Victoria Square office also remains closed) 

  • Site activity is being assessed for compliance with latest PHE advice

  • Any future attendance at site for water monitoring will be in line with social distancing protocols 

  • Complete assessment and adjustment where necessary of process to manage risk of contagion through extra cleaning of vehicles, handling of equipment, provision of relevant supplies

  • Security staff will remain in place at the Heave site 

  • The mobilisation of future offices is placed on hold until further notice 

 

The SLT continues to hold online meetings each morning and afternoon, to ensure all developments are considered immediately and appropriate action taken. 

Update 17.03.2020

Government issues new advice:

  1. All non-essential contact should cease

  2. Work from home if possible

  3. Over 70s, women who are pregnant and those with underlying health conditions should pay particular attention to 'social distancing guidance'

  4. Anyone with serious underlying health conditions should self isolate and work from home where possible

EKFB response:

  • Everyone should avoid non-essential contact. This includes non business critical meetings, shaking hands, visiting office

  • All office staff should work from home. Specific dispensation is required to work from the office for business or safety critical activities

  • Introduction of daily reports tracking our staff to provide visibility of where our people are and what support they need

  • Briefing to all Line Managers (via Teams) on the changing nature of their responsibilities with a remote workforce

  • Everyone should carry all necessary equipment to work from home at all times if visiting site or office

  • In addition, everyone should continue to follow guidance on good, basic hygiene, with regular and thorough hand washing

  • As previously advised, anyone who is pregnant or living with someone who is pregnant, over 60s or those with underlying health conditions should self isolate 

Update 16.03.2020 

  • We are following government advice from Public Health England as a basis for our response 

  • We have provided a simple process to assess whether to attend work or self isolate

  • We are encouraging our people to work from home where possible, or to stagger working patterns to ensure that teams are not in the office at the same time 

  • We are providing detailed guidance to our people on the extra steps we are taking, on how they can enable the additional cleaning and on keeping business critical information and equipment (eg laptops) with them and avoiding all physical contact (eg handshakes) 

  • We are restricting attendance at all non essential meetings and conferences 

  • We have mandated the inclusion of online options to all meeting requests 

  • We are tracking all absences and returns, including subcontractors 

  • We are conducting daily checks each day that sufficient safety critical people such as first aiders and fire marshals are in place 

  • We are encouraging staff to regularly wash their hands and have put posters up in all toilets to promote good hygiene. We have increased the frequency of cleaning, and are providing wipes, sprays and hand sanitiser for people to use 

  • The SLT has a daily call each afternoon to review the continuously changing situation and determine actions to be taken 

  • The Business Continuity Team meets weekly to review the situation and to determine actions to take. This team also undertakes other preparedness activities including scenario planning to ensure that EKFB is ready to respond as the situation develops 

  • Sites are preparing shutdown plans so that we are in a position to close sites safely if required 

  • Sites and offices are conducting 'predict and prevent exercises' to understand what could happen and take steps to prevent or minimise effects

  • We are providing overview and refresher training on Microsoft Teams, the collaboration and communication tool that we use for remote working.  

  • We are talking to services and materials suppliers to ensure our supply remains undisrupted 

Update 04.03.2020 

Issued updated Health Alert to whole team 

28.02.2020 

Reissued Health Alert to whole team 

31.01.2020 

Issued Health Alert to whole team 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

EKFB has developed some specific site and office operating procedures that build on the Government guidance and that of the Construction Leadership Council.

 

This means we have made some changes to the way we work to protect our people and minimise the risk of spreading the infection.

 

This video explains these guidelines to anyone who is attending one of our sites or offices.

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