As you will be aware, the COVID-19 ‘R’ rate is rising nationally, and this will be of concern to you all, so we would like to reiterate how this affects our workplace, and more importantly, the safety and health of our staff.

The ‘R’ rate directly influences the policies and guidance issued by the UK Government, such as increasing social distancing restrictions and localised lockdowns. These changes affect industry best practice and guidance, and therefore operations across the Norse Group.

The Incident Management Team (IMT) continues to closely follow Government guidance and to put in place any changes necessary in our varied workplaces. This is to ensure we continue to be COVID-secure and respond quickly with any measures necessary to keep our staff, their families and our communities as safe as possible.

For example, with the introduction of the NHS Track and Trace system, we’ve been asked to display QR Codes in areas where there are likely to be visitors to our buildings, including suppliers, clients and contractors, and we’re asking for your help with this.

A poster for each building must be created and you can do this from this link. Here you will find clear instructions on how to create the poster for your area. This should be prominently displayed, and visitors asked to scan the code via their mobile phones using the NHS COVID-19 app.

Visitors without a phone, or who have not yet downloaded the NHS app, should have their contact details noted down and you should securely store these in line with GDPR (data protection) guidance.

This is not necessary for staff based within that building, but it is advised for those staff visiting a building from another area or even another local building.

Nationally, we’ve seen how it can be necessary to have more stringent measures in place in some parts of the country and for certain activities. Again, this is reflected in our varied workplaces and the types of roles our staff carry out. In each case, and in each service, we look at how we can maintain safety for those staff and clients in those areas, based on the best practice guidance.

To give ourselves and our staff the highest levels of confidence, over the past few months we have taken the extraordinary steps of formally inviting the Health and Safety Executive to review and inspect the measures we have in place within some of our frontline services. And in all cases, we have received a satisfied response.

The SHEQ and HR departments continue to work very closely with your local managers and union reps, ensuring they remain informed about additional guidance and measures to best support you. In turn, your managers offer feedback about any local concerns or issues, so that SHEQ and HR can offer any additional support.

However, we know that as the ‘R’ rate increases, more testing takes place, and localised community outbreaks are seen, so does the likelihood of our reporting cases of the virus among our workforce.

Be assured, these will be dealt with swiftly, and our highest concern is with the safety and health of our staff, those we deliver our services to, and the wider communities we serve.

As always, we expect our staff to follow local guidance on social distancing, and we expect you to follow the workplace guidance from your managers and SHEQ. Your continued efforts in doing this is what will keep us all as safe as possible and we thank you again, for all your efforts so far.

So please:

– Don’t forget the basics required to stop the spread of the coronavirus – Hands, Face and Space
– Inform your Line Manager if you, somebody you live with or have recently been in close contact with, displays any symptoms of COVID-19. You or your close contacts (whoever is displaying symptoms) must take a test and while you await the test and its results, you must stay away from work as a sickness absence. This is for your personal safety and the safety of your Norse colleagues.
– Tests are free and more information is available here

Jamie McDonald
Group SHEQ Director

Katie Marrison
Group HR Director


Hands, Face, Space

Washing your hands
While coronavirus is not likely to survive for long periods of time on outdoor surfaces in sunlight, it can live for more than 24 hours in indoor environments. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day, will reduce the risk of catching or passing on the virus.

Covering your face
Coronavirus is carried in the air by tiny respiratory droplets that carry the virus. Face coverings reduce the dispersion of these droplets, meaning if you’re carrying the virus you’re less likely to spread it when you breathe out, cough or sneeze.

Making space
Transmission of the virus is most likely to happen within two metres. While keeping this exact distance isn’t always possible, remaining mindful of surroundings and continuing to make space has a powerful impact when it comes to containing the spread.