The Nuclear AMRC has begun the second phase of restarting vital R&D projects while maintaining the highest levels of health and safety protection for staff.
In the first phase, a skeleton team implemented new safeguards including markings to help people maintain safe distancing from the car park to the shopfloor, a one-way flow system around the building, protective shields in reception, and hand-sanitizing stations with temperature measuement throughout the facility.
“The measures that the team have put in place are excellent,” says Nuclear AMRC CEO Andrew Storer. “Of course, we still have a long way to go. The biggest challenge, in my opinion, will be ensuring sufficient desk and recreational areas for staff in the office space as our numbers ramp back up. This is something we are looking at closely. It is vital we have the essential staff only on site at this stage, with others safely working from home.”
The centre has produced a five-phase plan for returning to work while keeping staff safety as the number one priority. Normal workshop operations were suspended at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in late March.
In the first phase, beginning 11 May, around eight staff re-opened the Nuclear AMRC’s research factory on the Advanced Manufacturing Park, South Yorkshire. Initial work focused on preparing key equipment to resume work on a small number of research projects.
The phased return to work is based on rigorous risks assessments led by Nuclear AMRC Programme Director Jay Shaw, and draws on best practice from the centre’s network of manufacturers and other nuclear organisations.
“Safety is our number one priority, as it is for everyone working in the nuclear industry,” Shaw says. “We are doing everything we can to protect the health of our staff and their families, while restarting workshop operations to provide vital support to UK industry.”
All staff are being issued with the overarching risk assessment, training and details of work practices to maintain social distancing, cleaning and personal hygiene. For each project, the team will review risk assessments and methods statements to make sure that safe distancing can be maintained. If distancing is impracticable, a full range of control measures will be put in place to minimise risk to staff.
Nuclear AMRC facilities in Derby and Birkenhead will follow the same process, with support from local stakeholders.
Future phases will see more staff return to site to work as required to complete client projects. All other Nuclear AMRC staff will continue to work from home wherever possible.
“We will continue to work diligently to apply best practice, listen to government advice, and learn from others in order to safeguard our team and ensure the best working environment we can,” says Storer. “I really want to thank the tremendous effort by those members of Nuclear AMRC that have enabled such progress to date. I am very proud indeed.”
The fifth and final phase, with all staff returning to normal operations, will be implemented only when the government lifts all work and travel restrictions.
- Whatever sector you’re in, the nuclear industry’s established safety culture can offer a model for safe working – check out our essential guide to nuclear safety culture.