returning to work
After a company decision for some of the team to return to work Aqueduct Marina’s Marina and Operations Director Phil Langley outlines what the executive team has experienced to get to this point and what the future looks like for the marina.
Following the government lockdown announcement, we split our engineering operation into two teams working on a rota basis to protect staff and reduce the risk of spreading COVID 19. This, along with strict social distancing rules, worked very well but after a week it became apparent that the supply chain issues meant we could not continue to operate. Working with an already reduced team due to some staff having to self-isolate we then made the difficult decision to furlough the remaining engineering team.
We looked at our engineering schedule to assess the workload and what was deliverable, we also then took into account employees personal situations and risk assessed who were higher and lower risk. The main reason we have chosen three team members to return at this time is because this number allows us to safely monitor and implement safe systems of work on a manageable scale. We also wanted to do as much as we could for one particular staff member who only started working for us the week of the lockdown and did not qualify for furlough so has been unable to earn for the last three weeks.
Staff who are placed onto the governments furlough scheme have to be furloughed for a minimum of three weeks and we always planned to use this time to take stock and risk assess our operation in order to get staff back to work as soon as safely possible, which is what we are now doing.
Now strict social distancing rules have been put in place and the engineers will be working alone. We have also closed all shared areas such as the engineers welfare building (brew room). And staff are to bring their own food and drinks which is to be consumed in isolation.
We have new specific COVID-19 related risk assessments which has helped to reduce the risk for staff. All the engineers have their own sets of PPE which as per normal rules isn’t to be shared and they have all been given hand sanitiser to use and carry around with them. Staff have been asked to wash their hands more regularly and government hand washing advice posters have been put up in the toilets. Disinfectant spray is also supplied to clean door handles etc across the site and staff are encouraged to use this.
We are extremely fortunate to have a fantastic team at the marina and all the staff have been very understanding during these times. The engineers are indeed pleased to be back at work and back to some form of normality during these uncertain times. As a leisure business we have qualified for a full rates relief, Cheshire East were very quick to implement our application. The furlough scheme was easy to apply for and paid out promptly, the bank was responsive to our request to put the loan repayments to interest only for three months.
We will continue to monitor the current working group and then look to safely introduce more staff members back into work. We aim to work on a 12-18 months plan that enables the marina to operate as we move into what will be a different environment in the future. Each area of the business mooring, caravan site, café, chandlery, brokerage and boat repairs will all have different obstacles to overcome. We understand that there will be challenges ahead and will continue to follow government advice as well as seeking support from trade bodies such as British Marine in order to first and foremost ensure a safe environment for staff and customers.