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Covid-19 – Business Continuity Plan

We know that our service users and partners depend on our ability to provide a reliable, uninterrupted service; so in light of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), we would like to reassure our service users, and share the measures that we are taking to ensure business continuity during this time.

Full risk assessments have been carried out and safe working environments have been created at all sites, with access to sufficient PPE, training and cleaning provisions, whilst maintaining safe distances in line with Government and HSE Guidelines.

As a key component of the supply chain to key workers, VSS must maintain its ability to service and supply fully trained Forklift Truck operators to our Employer Clients. Within this past few weeks we have seen higher demand for Forklift Truck operators from our clients, so that they can maintain their operational capability.

Therefore, our FLT centres in Croydon, Oldbury, Birmingham, & Bootle, are open so that small numbers of learners can undertake Forklift Truck training and secure these ‘key worker’ vacancies. Our Training Centres in Liverpool, London, West Yorkshire & Birmingham are also open with reduced class sizes and strict rules in place.

In all VSS training centres and offices we are preventing the spread of COVID-19 by adopting the Government’s recommended hierarchy of controls that, when implemented, creates an inherently safer system, where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. These include:

  • Minimising contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend training centres or offices
  • Cleaning hands more often than usual – washing hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap and dry them thoroughly or use alcohol hand rub or sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered
  • Ensuring good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
  • Cleaning frequently touched surfaces often using standard products, such as detergents and bleach.

In order to protect learners and staff who will be attending our training centres and practical delivery centres, we have reduced group sizes and increased our cleaning regimes throughout these centres. However, to further protect our learners and staff, learners will be required to complete a Health Assessment Questionnaire prior to attending our training facilities.

As part of this health assessment questionnaire, we will asking if learners have any underlying health issues e.g. they are vulnerable, or if they are in close contact externally with vulnerable people. If they are, they will be asked to continue with their programme of learning remotely in order to protect themselves and/or others. Staff and Learner temperatures will also be taken twice daily.

Our number one priority is the safety of our service users and our staff, which is why we have adapted to the changing position by implementing the above changes, whilst at the same time ensuring we can continue to deliver our much needed educational and recruitment offerings to our service users and employer clients, during what continue to be very challenging times.

The business has a duty of care for the well-being of our employees and we are tracking anyone who is self-isolating because they have symptoms in line with the government guidance. Anyone who is self-isolating and has symptoms, has a family member with symptoms, has come into contact with someone that has symptoms, or has been diagnosed as having Covid-19, are being instructed to notify VSS Human Resources ASAP, so that it can be recorded, and they can be referred to the NHS 111 website for the latest advice. We feel this action will help to minimise and mitigate the risk of passing the infection to others.

To ensure our safe working plans are robust and meet HSE Guidelines;

  • We have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and shared the results with the people who work at VSS
  • We have cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in line with guidance at all open locations
  • We have taken all reasonable steps to help the majority of our employees work from home
  • We have taken all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance in the workplace
  • Where people cannot be 2m apart, we have done everything practical to manage transmission risk

We have made significant investments in our technology infrastructure and business continuity planning, to ensure we can operate all our systems and processes remotely with no interruptions to normal service levels should we need to close our centres again due to National and/or local restrictions.  We have rigorously tested our business continuity strategies to ensure we can provide ‘business as usual’ services, and this is now fully in place. Should we need to close our delivery centres again:

  • Individual desk phones will be diverted to mobile phones, allowing continuous phone access to our teams and ensuring all departments continue to work seamlessly. Email and mobile phone communication will continue as normal
  • All of our staff are equipped with laptops, chargers, headsets, mobile phones and access to the 4G network to ensure they can continue to work effectively, wherever they are.
  • Our IT systems are designed to suit a remote workforce. We use online technology to ensure our staff can access documents from anywhere and share them with each other and our clients and suppliers.
  • Our culture has become one of digital collaboration, and our staff regularly use video conferencing and instant messaging technology to work effectively together across multiple locations.
  • We have policies in place which cover the appropriate way to work securely when out of the office to ensure confidentiality and the protection of data.
  • All internet connections on VSS laptops and phones are protected using secure filter technology.
  • All systems and tools for managing general enquiries, course bookings etc, are remotely accessed by our teams via mobile phones and laptops.
  • Microsoft Teams is used internally and externally to work with our colleagues and partners for productive collaboration and content sharing.
  • The delivery of Forklift Truck Practical and SIA Door Supervisor Training will be paused during any lockdown. However, all Theory related to these qualifications will be delivered remotely.
  • Face-to-face delivery will be switched back to virtual environments, using Teams and/or Zoom platforms for group teaching, WhatsApp messaging, telephone contact and emails, so our learners can attend their courses remotely. All courses other than the practical FLT & SIA courses mentioned above will be delivered remotely. You can browse our full course list here

The sudden absence of key staff is covered in our Company Risk Register & Mitigation document which considers the risk, probability, impact, priority and details the mitigation(s) in place and the resulting post-mitigation rating. This is reviewed & signed annually, or after any significant impact/disaster should it occur. The sudden absence of key staff could be by sickness or any other reason and is mitigated by having enough staff employed in all areas to cover the loss; staff are multi-trained to cover roles; and succession planning is in place.

We’re in touch with our suppliers and service partners who have contractual obligations and have appropriate plans and arrangements in place to ensure the continuity of the supply of services to our service users and partners.

We continue to closely monitor the situation and guidance provided on the following official websites:

We continue to urge our service users and our staff to keep up to date with government advice around best hygiene practices and to follow any other guidance that is issued from key agencies such as Public Health England and the NHS.

Given the above policy, and the implementation of robust processes for those working within our offices and training centres; Senior Management consider the risk of VSS employees and/or our service users contracting COVID-19 in our workplaces as being LOW RISK.

We are therefore open for business as usual and remain committed to supporting our service users and employer clients with our unparalleled level of service.

We are continuing to monitor events and listening to government guidance to see what further adjustments may be needed, and we will provide further information as and when required. However, in the meantime, if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Leadership and Management Team on 01942 932 050 or email covid-19@vocationalsolutions.co.uk

Take care of yourselves, and each other.

Phil Juniper – MD