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Advice on increased risks at work

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LucyjjoLucyjjo Forumite
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Hello, I could really use some advice or thoughts on what anyone else would do in this situation and whether if no further steps are taken to reduce risk, can I refuse to start work if I feel unsafe? am I over reacting or what should I do? 

My workplace is opening again soon and for what should of been 1 job has been made extremely complicated. They are wanting to increase risk when there is no need and other workplaces under the same ownership are not doing what I am being asked to do.  They are increasing risk in a number of areas 1) Requiring close contact working more like 1m in a small space with no fresh ventilation 2) Increasing the exposure to other staff from what should of been 1 fixed team of people they now want to expose us to 2 or 3 more teams of people 3) Increasing the exposure of shared surfaces on a daily basis of things that can't be sanitised. 

Most of the above can be avoided completely, for example one person can be in the workplace at only one time, there is absolutely no workload to need more than one person and the uncleanable surfaces do not need to be shared on the same day shift period. This is creating risk for no good reason and exposing us to too many connections of people. I have raised my concerns and hope they change all of this, but would help to know what I can do if they don't  :#
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  • MattMattMattUKMattMattMattUK Forumite
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    Largely your option if you do not like it is to resign. None of what they are doing sounds unreasonable, the processes and Covid-secure requirements are not about reducing the risk to zero or even minimising it, but just reducing it to a reasonably low level.
  • unforeseenunforeseen Forumite
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     one person can be in the workplace at only one time, 
    My first question with that is what type of workplace? What are the H&S implications of single person working in an area. H&S still trumps social distancing etc. 

    1m in the workplace is allowable if the employer recognises a need for it, not because you don't think it's needed. The same applies to multiple teams. 

    What would the other teams be doing if not at work? If it is sitting at home doing nothing then are they willing to stay at home unpaid in that situation.?

    What involvement have you had in the risk analysis and workplace planning? Probably one.

    Unless you are capable of putting together a reasoned argument with facts of why only one team is needed and how increasing the teams would be an unacceptable risk then your refusal to return to work could/would result in a disciplinary.
    I guess you don't even know what changes your employer has put in place which is the norm for one of these questions. 
  • LucyjjoLucyjjo Forumite
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    Thanks, it would be classed as retail for the most part. That does make sense if the employer does recognise a need for it, however pre-coronavirus one employee working an entire day shift in the enclosed space was quite common and is being continued this way in other locations even now, which makes me question the need to change to increasing it at the current time only in our location. 
    The other teams each have other jobs that belong to another part of the business. So there is unlimited work available elsewhere and nobody has to be sat at home if that makes sense. 
    Their risk assessment does not include working in multiple parts of the business at the same time and mostly emphasises that employees in the enclosed physical location of the workplace that I am in should be kept to a minimum for the workload required. So I suppose it will  really depend on what their definition of keeping them to a minimum is.
  • ThrugelmirThrugelmir Forumite
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    You say your workplace is soon to open again. Perhaps complain once you've actually been there. Rather than attempt to second guess. 
    "The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion ... draws all things else to support and agree with it." - Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)
  • LucyjjoLucyjjo Forumite
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    You say your workplace is soon to open again. Perhaps complain once you've actually been there. Rather than attempt to second guess. 
    Yep, I'm just wondering what is best to do though. If I start and need to resign, what happens if I can't work my notice period? or then again what happens to my notice period if I don't even start? It's quite a long notice period too :D  
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  • theoreticatheoretica Forumite
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    Are they definitely changing work patterns to have more than one person work in the space where before there was just one, or are they just not writing rules that say 2+ won't happen?  How much control do you and colleagues have over your exact work to collude and only ever happen to have one person in that area?
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
    Lewis Carroll
  • LucyjjoLucyjjo Forumite
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    Are they definitely changing work patterns to have more than one person work in the space where before there was just one, or are they just not writing rules that say 2+ won't happen?  How much control do you and colleagues have over your exact work to collude and only ever happen to have one person in that area?
    Yep, unless anything changes they have scheduled all of us to work with more than one in per day on an ongoing basis. The management would have control of this, not us employees, so it certainly can be reconsidered and changed, but it really depends on if they will. 
  • edited 17 October at 1:39PM
    ThrugelmirThrugelmir Forumite
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    edited 17 October at 1:39PM
    Lucyjjo said:
    You say your workplace is soon to open again. Perhaps complain once you've actually been there. Rather than attempt to second guess. 
    Yep, I'm just wondering what is best to do though. If I start and need to resign, what happens if I can't work my notice period? or then again what happens to my notice period if I don't even start? It's quite a long notice period too :D  
    Well if you are unwilling to work then there's no reason for you to be paid. Why should you be?  Though finding employment where you feel comfortable and safe maybe your best option. Perhaps there's restructuring of the business planned which may provide you with an alternative exit option. 
    "The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion ... draws all things else to support and agree with it." - Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)
  • Yahoo_MailYahoo_Mail Forumite
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    The mortality rate from COVID is about 0.5% and it's massively weighted towards the over 70's.  It's a bit higher than a bad flu season but not much. Stop faffing around and go back to work.

    If you don't turn up I sincerely hope they sack you.
  • Concerned75Concerned75 Forumite
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    Lucyjjo said:
    Hello, I could really use some advice or thoughts on what anyone else would do in this situation and whether if no further steps are taken to reduce risk, can I refuse to start work if I feel unsafe? am I over reacting or what should I do? 

    My workplace is opening again soon and for what should of been 1 job has been made extremely complicated. They are wanting to increase risk when there is no need and other workplaces under the same ownership are not doing what I am being asked to do.  They are increasing risk in a number of areas 1) Requiring close contact working more like 1m in a small space with no fresh ventilation 2) Increasing the exposure to other staff from what should of been 1 fixed team of people they now want to expose us to 2 or 3 more teams of people 3) Increasing the exposure of shared surfaces on a daily basis of things that can't be sanitised. 

    Most of the above can be avoided completely, for example one person can be in the workplace at only one time, there is absolutely no workload to need more than one person and the uncleanable surfaces do not need to be shared on the same day shift period. This is creating risk for no good reason and exposing us to too many connections of people. I have raised my concerns and hope they change all of this, but would help to know what I can do if they don't  :#
    I'm guessing here, but it sounds like you work in the private sector, perhaps in a manual working environment, where time and money unfortunately superseeds health and safety, especially now. Sounds like you're in a difficult situation and they might listen to your concerns, but I doubt it. Maybe giving the CAB a call and getting advice from them, might be helpful. After 25yrs on the PAYE system, I'm glad to be self employed now and not having a close working environment to worry about. Hope you can get some good advice. All the best.
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