As a one of the Ireland’s leading analytical testing laboratories employing over 100 staff across 4 sites, ALS is putting additional precautionary measures in place to ensure that we are playing our part in helping to contain the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) while also ensuring a high quality testing service to all of our clients. This includes the recent notification to attendees that all upcoming ALS Training days have been cancelled.
As part of our planning, we have considered scenarios such as the potential closure of schools, a reduction in sample volumes, critical employees being absent and delays with critical supplies. In parallel, we are evaluating the risk to potentially immune-suppressed individuals and employees with asthma who may be more at risk. This has been extensively documented as part of our COVID-19 Risk Assessment that covers all main activities and departments in Ireland.
With the health and safety of our staff at the forefront of our thinking, together with business continuity planning, the immediate measures that we have put in place across the business are as follows:
- Communication of information to staff
Regular safety alerts and government updates are circulated to all employees via e-mail and on site notice boards to raise awareness and encourage all employees to follow the latest advice.
- Simple precautions
As hand washing is one of the most effective controls, we have produced a communication to reinforce the importance of regular and thorough hand washing which has been cascaded through the business as a ‘toolbox’ talk and displayed information sheets reminding staff and visitors of the correct handwashing protocol as recommended by health professionals.
We have requested that all employees provide us with details of their travel itineraries for overseas travel. This information will then be used in assessing returning staff if they have been to an impacted area / region.
We have cancelled all but the most essential domestic and international business trips.
For managers who decide to travel abroad on holidays, we have requested that they travel with a work laptop to mitigate against possible delays in returning to work.
- Flexible working arrangements
Several of our senior managers are already used to working remotely and can maintain good communication without the need to be on-site. Our IT team have already procured additional laptops in case we need to extend the number of staff working from home.
- Visitors to our sites
We are encouraging all suppliers and clients to cancel any unnecessary visits to reduce the risk to ALS sites, and where possible use Skype/conference call telephone communications as an alternative means of conducting those meetings.
Only approved visitors will be allowed to access sites. The approval process requires any visitors or contractors to complete a form disclosing details of any contact with they have had with any COVID-19 risks which is then reviewed prior to access to any ALS site being granted.
Any unannounced visitors arriving will not gain access to the site.
All visitors/drivers must use the hand sanitisers in the areas that are signposted i.e. reception, sample and stock intake, despatch and entrance to all offices and buildings.
- Visit to client and other sites by ALS personnel
Our sample collection drivers are already familiar with the need to comply with client-specific Health & Safety rules when collecting samples from sites. Several clients have already issued new guidelines in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19 and our drivers have been and will continue to be made aware of these.
- Goods supplied from affected areas
We are working closely with suppliers to assess the risk posed by COVID-19 to their supply chains. As part of our pre-Brexit contingency planning, we have already built up buffer stocks of key items such as laboratory consumables which are being held at our sites in Ireland. We are confident that we have adequate stocks in place to maintain business continuity but will be continually reviewing our requirements considering the fast changing events.
- Samples Despatched to other ALS Group Laboratories and External Labs
As we utilise the services of many other ALS Group laboratories around the EU and a small number of external laboratories, we are monitoring what impact COVID-19 will have on their operations. Where we believe that these lab operations may be affected, we are already investigating alternative options. Should we find ourselves in the extreme situation of having a complete site shut in Clonmel due to COVID-19, we would seek to utilise the services of these laboratories.
Finally, can we kindly ask that in the event of one of your employees contracting COVID-19, that if they have been in close contact with our staff or with samples that are being submitted to ALS, that this is disclosed to ALS immediately.