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Ian Mansell's presentation on COVID-19 - 13 May 2020

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Thank you Chief Minister

Good afternoon.

One of the primary functions of the Regulation Directorate is to promote a culture of health and safety awareness across the island’s businesses to prevent workplace deaths, injuries or ill health.

In achieving this aim members of the Directorate’s Health and Safety Inspectorate and Environmental Health Team routinely provide health and safety advice, information and guidance to industry and the general public.

Awareness of health and safety in the workplace is driven by engaging with employers and their workforce. This promotes a safety culture that builds confidence across business sectors; and removes barriers to nurturing professional relationships. It allows effective two way communication and healthy dialogue; which results in safe working cultures and practices on the island. Being an Island community; where good links are established; has helped significantly in getting advice and guidance to business operators. 

Since the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions, the Directorate has continued to liaise frequently with colleagues across government departments including Public Health; where our environmental health officers are assisting the contact tracing team; the Police and COVID-19 Call Centre; fielding calls of a technical nature; and assisting the Department for Enterprise with advice and guidance for a variety of on island businesses. 

The Trading Standards Team has also been providing guidance and advice to businesses looking to go back to work; every effort is being made to keep our island’s population safe. 

Advice and guidance has been provided to essential businesses that have remained open for business throughout; including food retailers and food producers, banks and manufacturers; as well as businesses that have successfully diversified into operating takeaways, food delivery and pop-up shops, providing essential services to the community. We thank them for adopting the advice and guidance and serving the community in a safe way. 

In addition work was carried out with the Department for Enterprise, Public Health and stakeholders to facilitate the safe return to work of the construction sector and associated trades. 

I would like to thank Brian Butler and the Isle of Man Construction Federation for their valuable input in this process; ensuring the safe return to work of this sector.

A dedicated DEFA Health and Safety ‘hotline’ was created - 685881, to take calls in conjunction with the COVID-19 686262 Call Centre. Those in the construction and manufacturing industry are also familiar with the email address which continues to be used as a point of contact. 

Since we set up the H&S Call Centre we have received in the region of 130 enquiries across the range of sectors regulated by the Directorate including construction, manufacturing, food premises, gardening, offices, retail, plumbers and carpet fitters to name but a few.

Most of the calls related to social distancing at work, how activities can be undertaken whilst social distancing, sharing vans, do I have to go back to work, servicing of equipment etcetera.

Officers of the Directorate have also undertaken visits to premises and sites to ensure that social distancing measures are being followed.  It is good to see that businesses have implemented simple but crucial measures to keep their workforce and their customers safe, for instance; one way systems, floor markings, clear signs and door marshals to control flow; these are working extremely well and we thank businesses and the public for their cooperation.

As the Chief Minister advised earlier we are working alongside colleagues in Public Health and the Department for Enterprise to produce clear guidance for the next phase in the Government’s plan; which will see the return to work of certain non-essential businesses; once restrictions are lifted. It is likely that guidance will centre on social distancing for employees and customers; and frequent hand washing which has been Public Health’s key message from day 1. 

The same dedicated DEFA ‘hotline’ 685881 will be used for any queries regarding health and safety in these types of business. 

Our emphasis remains on promoting a safety culture in the workplace; and supporting the implementation of practical safety measures to protect our businesses, our workforce and our families from risks of coronavirus.  

Guidance will be provided on the government website;; which will be the best possible guidance for business operators to follow. It is likely that they will have to make some changes to their daily routines and we ask that the general public continue to act responsibly and adhere to social distancing measures and frequent hand washing in order to support our businesses; our Health Services and help keep infection rates down. 

Thank you.