Coronavirus is a name given to a broad spectrum of virus’s that share similar traits, the Coronavirus that is prominent in the news is called Covid 19 and is the newest virus to emerge from this family of virus’s and was first identified in Wuhan City, China in December/January.
The incubation period (the time in which it takes for the virus to develop and take hold) is between 2 and 14 days according to the gov.uk website, however anecdotal evidence indicates that the incubation period could be as long as 20 days.
Anecdotal evidence from people who have contracted the virus indicate that the virus comes in three stages, with the infected getting better between each phase;
Phase 1: Cold – coughing and general malaise.
Phase 2: Flu – fever, lethargy, shortness of breath. Burning sensation around the eyes and ears.
Phase 3: Pneumonia – difficulty in breathing, lethargy.
How seriously affected and how an individual can cope with the virus varies dramatically from person to person depending on their health, underlying health conditions and their age.
Older people with serious underlying health conditions such as COPD, Asthma, Hypertension, Diabetes can be seriously affected.
People with immune disorders such as AIDS/HIV and those receiving chemo therapy whom have a lowered immune system are also at serious risk. From anecdotal evidence in China up to 5% of cases will require hospitalisation and 1 to 2% of cases will require high dependency care in Intensive Care Units.
Effect of mass transmission
Because the virus can be very mild in its initial phase transmission can be widespread and very fast throughout a population.
As such, at some point you are likely to catch the Covid 19 virus, do not panic, in most cases it is not pleasant and will be much like the worst flu a person has ever had, followed shortness of breath and a chest infection.
In the worst 5% of cases, and especially those with underlying conditions, hospital treatment will be necessary.
It is for those 5% of people and the elderly that we need to take precautions to prevent the spread and transmission of the virus to a far slower rate. If the virus were to hit everyone at once there would be approx. 2.5m people requiring hospitalisation and treatment. The NHS cannot cope with that number and as such lowering the transmission rate and infection rate so that fewer people at any one time require hospitalisation is very important and will mean the difference between a less than 1% mortality rate to a 8% mortality rate (that is the percentage of people who will die from the virus).
Implementing a Solution
The UK Government have moved away from a containment policy to a delay policy. This is because stopping the spread of the virus throughout the UK population is not only no longer possible due to wide spread transmission but also not desirable as the virus is now worldwide and infection rates are growing rapidly. Even if the UK were to isolate and eliminate the virus from within the UK, it would leave our population exposed to future reinfection from countries who did not eradicate the virus.
The World Health Organisation has declared the virus a pandemic. The last time a pandemic was declared was in 2009 to 2010 when a influenza A(H1N1) virus was declared, the effects of this virus were mitigated by mass vaccinations. Previous to that was the 1918 – 1919 Spanish Flu Pandemic.
Unfortunately there is no vaccine for Covid 19 as such the only solution is to implement a semi controlled exposure rate to the virus to enable the population to build a herd immunity in a controlled and slow manner so as to not overwhelm the NHS.
We can help slow the transmission of the virus by doing some very simple things;
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, sleeve or in the crook of your arm when you sneeze or cough. Do not cough or sneeze into your hand.
Put used tissues in the bin straight away.
Wash your hands regularly, especially before you eat and after touching things in a new environment.
Keep your distance from people – try to stay 2 metres away from people.
Wear gloves – when touching possibly infected materials wear disposable rubber gloves. Take the gloves off when you are finished by turning them inside and dispose of them in the bin.
Wear a mask – when out in public, wear a mask – these will stop other people’s bodily fluids being able to enter your mouth or nose.
Don’t touch your face with dirty or unwashed hands
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Wear freshly washed clothes every day. As soon as you get back home take off your clothes, put them in the washing machine and change in to fresh clothing.
Facial Hair collects germs, clean shaven is better for minimising germs and also means you are less likely to touch your face to itch a beard or tug on your beard.
Identifying Risks in our business
The obvious risks in our business is when we have contact with customers, this contact should be kept to a minimum and a safe distance kept.
Furthermore any equipment a customer has touched must be considered as potentially infected, this includes machines, keys, paperwork, clipboards and pens.
It is important to disinfect all of these so as to prevent cross contamination from customers to ourselves and also from customers to customers.
Procedure for Drivers
Drivers come into contact with customers and potentially contaminated equipment when delivering and collecting equipment. To mitigate against the risk we are able to provide PPE and a procedure that dramatically cuts down on potential infection;
When arriving at site to deliver or collect a machine a fresh pair of nitrile gloves should be put on before leaving the cab of the vehicle and then a fresh facemask applied, being careful to not touch the front of the mask.
The driver should then exit the cab with paperwork and a clean pen, the signatures should be obtained whilst maintaining a safe distance from the customer.
Any Chase Plant Hire pen used by the customer should then be placed in a separate bag so that they can be disinfected later, each customer should have a fresh pen so that cross contamination does not occur. The paperwork should be put in a separate bag for used paperwork.
Clipboards should not be used on site, as they are a potential source of cross contamination amongst customers. Clipboards should be kept in vehicles and the job paperwork signed for by using a flat surface such as the machine.
The equipment should then be unloaded and handed over.
Prior to the driver getting back into his cab the passenger door should be opened whilst wearing gloves, the paperwork should be placed in a box provided, the dirty pen should be placed in the dirty pen bag in the footwell.
Prior to the driver getting back into his cab he should carefully remove the gloves by turning them inside out and placing them in a carrier bag for disposal. The face mask should then carefully be taken of taking care not to touch the front of the mask and placed in the bag for the used gloves.
The driver should then wash his hands using hand sanitizer if hand sanitizer is available. And may enter his vehicle from the drivers side door.
Upon collection the same process can be used.
At the end of the day the bag of used gloves and face masks should be placed in the bin, ensuring that they are double bagged, the bag of used pens should be given to the manager to be disinfected and the bag of used paperwork should be given to the manager to be disinfected and processed.
It is important to remember that the passenger door is used when dirty gloves are worn, and that the drivers side door is only used for clean gloves/hands.
Procedure for service technicians
Service technicians are exposed to risk from touching potentially contaminated equipment, they should wear the gloves provided when operating any machinery that has come back from a customer’s site.
Equipment should be washed off as soon as possible with a mixture of TFR and disinfectant, paying particular attention to ensure that steering wheels, gear levers, fuel caps, canopy and door handles are thoroughly sprayed and washed. This is to prevent possible cross contamination.
Once the machine has been decontaminated it can be taken through to be filled up with fuel and greased, the paperwork completed and then parked up.
It is important to note that service technicians need to be careful that they;
Wear gloves whilst operating potentially contaminated machines.
Wear gloves whilst operating the pressure washer lance.
Do NOT wear gloves when moving clean machinery inside.
Do NOT wear gloves whilst operating the fuel pump.
It may be best to work as a team and have one person wear gloves and operate potentially contaminated machinery and then one person to move clean machinery, check it off, fuel it up and complete the paperwork.
All gloves once removed by carefully turning them inside out should be put in the bin immediately.
Procedure for Fitters
Fitters that work in the unit are only exposed to the virus if they are working on machinery that has not yet been cleaned/decontaminated, it is suggest that all machines are cleaned/decontaminated before a fitter begins any repairs.
Nevertheless it may be considered good practice to wear nitrile gloves whilst carrying out repairs as a precaution. And repairs on machines that have not been cleaned must be carried out wearing nitrile gloves.
For fitters that work on site the following should be followed;
Arrive at site, before leaving the vehicle put on a fresh pair of nitrile gloves and a fresh face mask provided. Repair the equipment you need to repair whilst keeping a safe distance from other people. Once the repair is complete take off your gloves by turning them inside and put them in a bad for safe disposal. Then take off your face mask being careful not to touch the front and place in the same bag as the dirty gloves for disposal.
Hand sanitizer if available should then be used.
Please be aware that if you touch any of your tools whilst wearing gloves they are then considered as potentially contaminated, as such when you come to use them again – even if in the unit please wear nitrile gloves before handling them. It may be prudent for external fitters to carry a spray bottle of disinfectant so that they can spray any tools used prior to putting them back in their box.
Procedure for Managers
Managers should ensure that all staff are following the above procedures as best as possible, also it may be prudent at some point to introduce temperature checking of staff upon arrival to determine if they have a fever and are safe to work.
Doors to showrooms and trade centres should be locked and a sign displayed telling the customer to call the shop number and wait in their car whilst the order is processed and brought out to them in a safe manner.
The manager should also ensure that all commonly used door handles, light switches and communal phones, taps, gate handles and padlocks are sprayed periodically with disinfectant.
At the end of the day the manager should take the paperwork and pen bags from drivers, empty out the pens on a flat surface and spray liberally with disinfectant and allowed to dry overnight.
Paperwork should also be laid out on a flat service and sprayed with disinfectant and allowed to dry overnight so that it can be processed the following morning.
Once this has been done the manager should immediately go and wash his or her hands thoroughly for 30 seconds with the anti-bacterial hand wash provided, paying careful attention to not touch any door handles with his hands until they are considered clean.
Procedure for Office Staff
The risk for office staff is slim, nevertheless they should maintain vigilance and do not touch any potentially contaminated equipment and maintain a safe distance from other staff.
Please keep your distance from fellow staff members, a distance of 6 foot is recommended.
It is also imperative that all staff regularly wash their hands in the toilet area using the anti-bacterial soap provided. Staff should at the very least wash their hands prior to work, prior to lunch, prior to leaving work and prior to commencing any work in the unit once they have finished driving.
If the above procedures are followed this creates an effective barrier for transmission of the virus from customers to our staff and also from our staff to our staff. Which will mean that not only do we importantly lower the peak demand on the NHS but also it means that we can operate as a business with minimal disruption.
To prevent cross contamination do not swap vehicles unless really required, if required disinfect door handles, steering wheel, gear sticks, indicator sticks and dash.
Signs to remind staff members to wash their hands and to not touch their face at strategic locations around the premises.
Used gloves and masks should be disposed of safely, firstly in a bag in the vehicles and then at the end of the day safely in the main industrial waste bins. This waste should be double bagged.
At the end of the day all vehicle door handles should be sprayed with disinfectant.
Things that can be done at home to minimise risk
Change your clothes as soon as you get home, put dirty clothes in the washing machine straight away and put fresh clothes on. Wash clothes at 60c.
Wash your hands as soon as you get home and before you leave for work in the morning.
Socially distance yourselves from friends and family.
Do not go out to large gatherings such as pubs, clubs, restaurants and parties.
Do not eat out nor consume takeaway food, you are not aware if those who have prepared the food have Coronavirus.
If you are or your family get sick
If you or your family come down with a persistent cough and/or fever then you should as a family self-isolate for 14 days. Do not panic. For most this is a mild illness. Do not come to work. You could be putting your work colleagues and customers at risk.
Please inform your manager by phone if you are unable to attend work so that we can implement a thorough disinfection of your working area and arrange cover for your role.
If you require supplies or additional support during your isolation period then please contact your manager so that we can do our best to help.