In this weeks Leading the Way blog, Health & Safety Officer, Debbie Mayneord, explains why Bristow & Sutor has obtained NQA COVID Secure Verification and what reassurance this achievement brings.
Over to Debbie …
I am very pleased to announce that Bristow & Sutor has successfully received independent verification this month, stating that our coronavirus safety and security measures are both appropriate and secure. After an assessment period and in-depth analysis of our ongoing pandemic responses, we have now been awarded NQA COVID Secure Verification.
The NQA is a recognised and renowned global certification body, operating in over 90 countries and with experience of providing improvement standards and certification to businesses for 30 years. Bristow & Sutor has engaged with the NQA many times previously, including for the provision of ISO standards.
For this verification to be granted, a thorough audit of our Safe Working Procedures and Risk Assessments for Enforcement Agent (EA) visits was required, along with a detailed look at our PPE/hygiene standards and on-site site compliance. NQA assessors joined us remotely for a pre-verification assessment, followed by visits to our offices as well as accompanying an EA on the road as they made visits to members of the public. This ensured that all aspects of our business, from the staff in our head office to vehicle cleaning and engaging with debtors from the doorstep, was analysed in its own right. Because Bristow & Sutor has always taken safety and security seriously, there were no changes required to our processes or shortcomings flagged on the back of these assessments.
The NQA COVID SECURE Guideline Verification is specifically designed to give companies, employees and customers confidence that an organisation has met specific government guidelines; as well as facilitate the objective of moving activities back towards normal operating capacities in future. Despite one-off verification being available, Bristow & Sutor has committed to an annual update of these assessments taking place, ensuring we remain at the forefront of advice and best practice at all times.
Before achieving NQA COVID Secure Verification, all of our First Aiders took part in the Human Focus COVID-19 First Aid Training programme. This gave them additional training in how to treat a casualty during the pandemic, the safe use and disposal of PPE, and the clean-up operation after dealing with a suspected coronavirus case. I was keen for our First Aid staff to have this additional training to assure them of their knowledge and to gain the confidence needed to support colleagues safely in all circumstances.
We have also started to undertake some additional refresher training with all of our field staff. This is in addition to the industry-wide Enforcement Agent PPE training introduced last year, that remains required before any EA is allowed to undertake visits. Topics for refresher training include wearing a mask, asking if anyone is isolating, pre-door knock calls, never threatening entry or handling a customer's phone and what to do if an individual breaches 2m distancing.
Because we know how difficult times are for our staff, we also recently increased our trained Mental Health First Aiders from two members of staff to a team of nine. Personally, I am halfway through an IOSH Managing Coronavirus Safely online course. I am a Technical member with IOSH, so I attend many webinars and branch meetings to talk about COVID-19 and to help keep my knowledge up to date. Up next for the business is a Stage 2 audit in March, as we progress with BSI 18477 Inclusive Service Provision, further verification of our efforts and ability to identify and support vulnerable people.
We are all immensely proud of our Bristow & Sutor employees for continuing to keep themselves and others safe during these uncertain times. I am particularly proud to work for a company where there is a genuine desire to do whatever it takes to operate most safely. I have been fully supported by management at all levels in my desire to improve standards and expand our volume of certifications.
NQA COVID Secure Verification is testament to our approach and the staff who have implemented our advice and processes throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We hope that achieving this standard will provide further assurance to employees in our offices, EAs on the road, debtors and clients that the comprehensive measures Bristow & Sutor has in place are successfully mitigating the transmission of COVID-19 in accordance with the latest government guidelines.