Doncaster firm one of only 200 UK firms praised by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has recognised the efforts of a Doncaster company for going “above and beyond” in putting measures in place during the Covid pandemic to keep its staff safe – while making sure that it was still business as usual.

Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 2:00 pm

Heras – which is Europe’s leading end-to-end supplier of permanent and mobile perimeter protection solutions – was one of just 200 UK companies that have been named Covid Workplace Champions.

The title recognises businesses that have continually gone above and beyond to keep their colleagues safe during the pandemic.

An example of this in the case of Heras was the training up of an additional eight Mental Health First Aiders.

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Lauara Ibbotson and Chris Charlesworth

The Herons Way-based company’s HSE-Q Manager in the UK, Chris Charlesworth, received the award on behalf of Heras after masterminding the firm’s response to the Covid crisis.

Mr Charlesworth said that because of the measures the company put in place, it has seen limited cases of Covid transmitted within the workplace in its 100+ staff in the two years since March 2020

He said: “The safety of every member of the Heras team has always been our number one priority, and the Covid outbreak has been a real challenge for responsible employers like Heras, but, as a business, we rose to a very difficult challenge.

"We’re delighted that our efforts have been recognised by RoSPA.

“Heras adhered to all the government’s guidance, but we still found ways that we could improve on that best practice to keep our people as safe as possible, and this recognition is important to Heras because it reflects the wider ethos of the business that we go above and beyond.”

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As well as implementing measures such as the use of masks, one-way systems, safe working spaces, social distancing and working from home, the company installed a permanent electronic temperature checker - which everybody entering the building is required to use – and Co2 monitors were installed to monitor ventilation.

The mental health and welfare of staff is a huge consideration for Heras and the HR team led by UK HR Manager Laura Ibbotson trained an additional eight employees as Mental Health First Aiders.

This ensured all employees had someone they had access to, who was trained and could offer support.

The HR team also called everyone within the business during the pandemic to have a chat and offer support, in addition support was offered through its company Employee Assistance Programme which includes access to professional counsellors (24 hours 365 days) as well as other health and wellbeing services.

The company also hosted Zoom quizzes every Friday evening to boost morale.

Probably the toughest challenge that Heras overcame was keeping staff informed of changing guidance for its UK business, especially as the company also has sites in Wales and Scotland – and they were subject to different rules.

Errol Taylor, RoSPA’s Chief Executive, said: “We know only too well the huge effort that has been required to keep workplaces functioning.

"We also realise that this vital work must continue for the foreseeable future. Importantly, for each and every one of us, there are Covid Workplace Champions out there, and this recognition scheme is for them. We simply want to say thank you and keep up the great work.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.