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Coronavirus: Amazon shows other firms how to stay safe

By John Corser | Rugeley | Business | Published:

The giant Amazon fulfillment centre at Rugeley has been opening its doors to businesses to see how a range of measures to keep staff safe have been put in place.

Jason Hensman, left, Brian Drinkwater and Steven Lockwood, right

The British Chambers of Commerce has teamed up with with Amazon to help businesses get back to work and boost the economy as lockdown restrictions ease.

Nationally more than 1,000 businesses will be touring Amazon fulfilment centres.

Gary Norton, site leader at Amazon Rugeley, said they had been delighted to be able to show members of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce first-hand how a range of measures to keep staff safe at Rugeley while continuing to serve customers have been implemented.

Site manager Gary Norton

"We’re proud to be part of the immediate Rugeley and wider West Midlands communities and want to do all we can to help fellow chamber members return to work safely and effectively whatever their line of work or occupation," he said.

Jay Hensman, managing director of Abbots Bromley-based Bromley Hays, a refurbishment, fit-out and construction project company which employs seven people, said: “With each of our sites being bespoke, our key practical challenge is developing new site rules and procedures to minimise the risk of Covid-19 and maintaining social distance.

"Visiting Amazon highlighted how much best practice evolves and that implementing the most effective Covid-19 safety measures is a journey, not a one-off activity and all businesses need to be reactive to changing Government guidelines.”

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Brian Drinkwater, business development manager for Grant McKnight, chartered accountants, tax consultants and business advisors which employs six people at Four Oaks, near Sutton Coldfield, said: “We’re fortunate that all members of our team have been able to work from home but our biggest challenge is organising future events for local businesses in such a way that they’ll be able to take place in a safe environment.

"I was extremely impressed with the measures Amazon has put in place, from the large blue chevrons marking out two metres (just like being on a motorway) to installing sound-activated door sensors to allow them to remain open.

The tour is led by (far right) health and safety manager Garry Knight with, from left, Brian Drinkwater, Steven Lockwood and Jason Hensman

"Whether your premises cover 12 football pitches or, like ours, a few hundred square feet, the challenges are essentially the same. I was pleased to see Amazon has addressed all the issues surrounding social distancing in very much the manner we’d agreed during our lengthy risk assessment. It was also clear their strategies had evolved with feedback from staff, so something we’ll be taking on board.”

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Steve Lockwood, managed services consultant for Derby-based Document Network Services, which provides managed print, copiers, multifunctional devices and document management and employs 20 people, said: “The challenges for us are making sure our premises are safe to return to, ensuing it’s safe to visit client premises and becoming accustomed to online meetings.

"Today’s visit showed the importance of adapting quickly to the ever-changing rules, and ensuring there are good social distancing procedures in place.

"For me, key takeaways were the importance of being vigilant at all times and providing temperature checks for everyone.”

Brian Drinkwater, of Grant McKnight, on the tour

Results from the BCC’s Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker revealed the majority of firms surveyed are in a position to partially re-start operations as lockdown restrictions are eased. However, some companies are still struggling, with one in 10 of respondents saying that they would not be ready to implement guidance and restart operations, mainly citing social distancing as a difficulty.

With guidance from the World Health Organization, Amazon has implemented a series of preventative health measures at its sites to help keep workers and customers safe.

The company has made more than 150 significant process changes to ensure the health and safety of its team members – from enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures to the distribution of personal protective gear and the implementation of temperature checks across its UK operations.

The tours, which began on June 11, see businesses receive practical advice on how to operate safely restrictions ease and apply any learnings to their own action plans for reopening their workplaces.

The partnership is designed to complement the Government’s road map and workplace specific guidance released earlier this month.

Chris Plant, divisional director at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “We’re hearing from businesses of all shapes and sizes about the difficulties in adapting their workplaces to new ways of working during the Covid-19 crisis.

Chris Plant, divisional director for Chase Chamber of Commerce

"Amazon, an international retailing giant, has stepped up during this virus crisis to keep its massive warehouses safe, clean and secure.

"All businesses, regardless of sector or size, can learn via these dedicated chamber of commerce exclusive tours how they too can make their premises Covid secure for customers and staff alike.

"We’re really grateful to Amazon for providing these tours in order to help other firms during these unprecedented times for business.”

Places on tours at Rugeley are available on a first-come-first-served basis to members of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.

John Corser

By John Corser
Business Reporter - @JohnCorser_Star

Express & Star Business Editor at head office, Wolverhampton. Welcomes all news of companies and business organisations.

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