Another month, another ‘healthy’ discussion at the PSR Forum. During this session, we covered the topic of health, safety and wellbeing at Walter Bower House, focusing on how to encourage a healthy working environment.
Our guest presenter this month was Hugh Graham, Head of Environmental Health and Safety Services, who gave a thought-provoking talk on the concept of reasonable adjustments in the workplace, the hierarchy of controls and the decisions the University has to make to balance cost versus risk.
We also used this session to brainstorm some priorities for health, safety and wellbeing. The reps were asked to gather ideas and priorities from the rest of their teams in advance of the meeting. We then split into groups and used this feedback to decide our top priorities.
So here are what we think are the top priorities for health, safety and wellbeing at WBH. I’ve ranked them in order of how important they were to the reps, noted what solutions are already on the cards for each priority, and also mentioned some new initiatives to explore and take forward – most of which come from you, the users of the building.
1 Making sure air quality and temperature are optimal
Solutions and initiatives already planned at WBH: WBH will be a modern workplace with full temperature and air quality management systems in place. Louise has asked for specs from the project management team and will share those with the Forum.
2 Making sure background noise levels are optimal (not too noisy and not too quiet)
Solutions and initiatives already planned at WBH: Acoustic dampening has been taken into account in the building design and furniture choices. In the spirit of Smart Working, lots of quiet spaces are provided for those ‘focused work’ periods. Asking colleagues to consider their noise levels will also form a key part of the building protocols and culture.
New initiatives to take forward: Investigate further the idea of ambient noise.
3 Keep a clean environment in shared areas, workstations, kitchens
Daily cleaning regimens are currently being worked out by Estates. We have a very skilled and dedicated cleaning team who will make sure that our environment is clean.
Our building protocols will also mention keeping workspaces and shared spaces as clean and tidy as possible.
Initiative from reps: Provide hand sanitiser to stop the spread of germs. We could create ‘clean stations’ with cleaning supplies, hand sanitiser available for all to use.
4 Mitigate the stress of the move and the effects of a new environment/new people
CAPOD already offers some stress management and resilience training that anyone feeling extra stress or pressure can attend. Occupational Health and the Chaplain will also be happy to speak to anyone who needs their services.
We could also schedule some extra stress and/or resilience training and run drop-in sessions later on in the year.
Initiative from reps: Expand the ‘Shelfhelp’ initiative to cover Eden Campus.
Initiative from reps: Set up a drop-in for support services such as Occupational Health and the Chaplaincy at WBH.
5 Create a social committee and instigate activities at lunchtime (walks, reading groups etc)
Initiatives from reps: Ask for volunteers and create a social committee/WBH community group. Expand the Wee Walk once a Week (WWOW) initiative to cover Eden Campus – we can call it bow-wwow (…geddit?). Expand the ‘Shelfhelp’ initiative to cover Eden Campus. The University Wellbeing and Engagement Group/CAPOD would be able to provide some support for these initiatives
6 Supply ‘late starter’ car parking spaces for those with caring responsibilities
Initiative from reps: Louise will discuss this with the Security Manager and look to bring this into the travel plan work.
7 Create outdoor space for eating and recreation
Some landscaping and wildflower planting is planned for Eden Campus to create a pleasant environment. We can also bring in some outside tables for use in nice weather.
Initiative from reps: Expand the WeeWalk initiative to cover Eden Campus in order to make use of the outdoor space and countryside around us.
8 Finding a balance between individual occupational health items/needs and Smart Working
WBH will be a Smart Working environment but that definitely doesn’t mean there needs to be a conflict with occupational health. Louise will look for best practice from other offices.
9 Safety in the car park (lighting, security) plus safety crossing the road from the car park to the building.
The car park will be lit and there will be a toucan crossing installed on the A919 for safe crossing of the road.
10 Creating a secure environment, particularly if staff do not know everyone in the building
Security and access control is a high priority. Non-staff will not be able to access certain parts of the building.
New initiatives to take forward: Visitor access to the building will be via Proximity Pass. Passes will be issued by Reception and will provide time-limited access. We’re also looking at supplying staff and visitors with differently-coloured lanyards so that staff can see at a glance who’s who.
11 Make it clear how the building can be used – opening hours, access, where to eat lunch, how staff can use the contemplation room etc.
A WBH users guide will be written in the next few months. This will cover all areas of the building and the details you need.
12 Creating a designated smoking area located away from the front door of the building
A site for a designated smoking area will be discussed with the Eden Campus Project Board.
13 Communicate clearly about fire safety and keep up to date with the regulations
WBH will fully adhere to all fire safety regulations. Fire wardens/marshals will be identified before moving and regular fire drills will take place
New initiatives to take forward: We can look at creating some more engaging fire safety comms for WBH, maybe in video form.
14 Provide covered bike shelters and other services for bike users
Bike shelters, showers and lockers will all be available in WBH.
New initiatives to take forward: Louise will discuss this with the relevant staff and share the specs of the bike shelters when they are confirmed.
Initiative from reps: We’ll also request some hooks for within the shower cubicles.
15 Provide a defibrillator on site
Initiative from reps: Louise will get in touch with Operation Heart Start and get the ball rolling on providing this.
If this has inspired you to think up some more health, safety and wellbeing initiatives, why not share them with your rep? Let’s keep the conversation going on this important subject.
Until next time!
PSR Project Officer