Richard Hilton, managing director at Shropshire-based Fabweld Steel Products (FSP), discusses the steps he has taken to keep the Telford factory safe for those still able to work.
FSP are market leaders in access covers to underground systems (such as drainage or power cables), as well as other fabricated steel products for the construction industry, specialising in bespoke project work.
We employ 40 people in our Telford site, but due to a 55% drop in sales and a 75% drop in enquires, we’ve had to furlough 30% of our staff. Thanks to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we have been able to protect their jobs, to make sure they have a source of income and a job to come back to.
Where possible, staff are working from home. However, we want those who still need to come into the site to feel confident. We have therefore made major adjustments to operational procedures to ensure safe social distancing, protecting the health and wellbeing of staff.
Our risk assessment showed that for some areas of the factory PPE is necessary for staff who are working in close proximity, and we are providing this. We are also quadrupling cleaning hours and adding extra hygiene measures. We are using split breaks on shifts and limiting the number of people in communal areas, changing the office seating layout to maintain social distancing, 2-metre markings on walkways and 2-metre cordons where there are static factory operators.
We are continuing to maintain our high customer service standards, through home-based sales and administration teams. However, we have had to reprioritise to make sure the most critical orders, such as contracts for the National Grid, take precedence. We have also diversified and are starting to look at different products and markets to see what else we can make within our manufacturing facilities.
The government has published guidance to support businesses to reopen and for workers to feel confident, safe and empowered to return to work.
If you run a business and would like to know which of the coronavirus support schemes you are eligible for, you can use the business support finder tool. It takes just minutes to complete and will help you easily find support for your business.