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Two safety management and business improvement consultants with over 50 years’ experience between them have launched a new service to help businesses re-open safely as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions begin to ease across the country.

Adrian Jones and Mark Bowen of Pathway Recruiting typically work with businesses to improve safety, preventing incidents, accidents and deaths in the workplace, and understand only too well just how much time and planning it can take to get safety issues right.

Their new service, Safe Start, offers businesses tailored risk assessments, audits and training as well as on-site support to set up, implement and monitor new safety procedures and protocols needed to become a ‘Covid secure’ business.

Mark Bowen, Director of Safety Services at Pathways Recruiting is a Toyota-trained process improvement specialist who has also helped the NHS Institute for Improvement deliver nationwide training and coaching programmes. He explained: “In our experience, businesses are very keen to be compliant with regulations impacting their business but sometimes, months or even weeks into implementation, process standards begin to slip.

“Even businesses that had robust policies and procedures in place before lockdown began need to trawl through a raft of new guidance to make their businesses safe in a Covid-19 world, updating policies and procedures and training staff to reflect the ‘new normal’.

“This all takes a huge amount of time, which is where our Safe Start service comes in. We are continually reviewing and digesting the Government guidance and advice coming from regulatory bodies and sector-specific organisations. This is developed into a series of accessible resources that businesses will be able to access to create their own tailored plan, ensuring they’re set up to re-open safely.

“Crucially, we have also trained our consultants in all the new guidance so they can provide practical, on the floor support to businesses, helping them deliver their safety programmes and ensuring they stay on the ball.” 

The inspiration for the Covid-19 Safe Start service came about when Adrian Jones, Founder and Director of Pathway Recruiting, visited his local supermarket at the start of lockdown. He observed that new systems had been put in place to protect employees and members of the public from Covid-19, such as one-way traffic, two-metre lines for social distancing, managing the flow of customers in and out of the store, staff wearing face coverings and hand sanitiser being available at every checkout. However, when he returned just a few weeks later, things had changed.

Adrian continued: “During my first visit to the supermarket I had been really impressed by the credible initiatives they had taken to curb the spread of Covid-19 but when I returned four weeks later, there was already a marked reduction in standards. 

“Some staff were nonchalantly walking past customers without PPE, blocking aisles with trolleys and reducing the ability to social distance. Tape had lifted off the floors and the flow of customers in and out of the store was no-longer being managed. 

“As a process improvement specialist for over 20 years, it was a pattern I’d seen many times before. This relaxing of standards is often driven by corporate measurement systems and the metrics used within them so it’s crucial to get these right and ensure everything is joined up from the start.

“While the Covid-19 specific guidance is all new, we understand the challenges specific to different sectors and how these new guidelines can best be integrated with existing procedures. With businesses having only a matter of a few days or weeks until re-opening, digesting all the guidance, putting new procedures in place and training staff is incredibly time intensive. The Safe Start programme makes it quick and easy for businesses to identify changes they need to make and how, while our team is also on hand to tailor their solutions and provide practical support as required.”

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