In today's COVID world, even before leaving the house to go shopping (for example), we have to think 'Where am I allowed to go? Do I need to wear a mask or any other type of PPE? Will I be safe?'. So what considerations are needed before travelling long distances?
When I say travelling, what I mean by that is going somewhere to stay overnight, travelling out of your county and going to a different part of the country.
Travelling for work around the UK in today's world should not be a scary proposition. If planned correctly it will be a safe and pleasant experience.
Before travelling, carry out a risk assessment (RA) (please see our Travel RA template). Think about how you are going to get to your destination and will you need to use public transport?
Think about your accommodation and what health risks there might be. For example, do they have COVID-safe procedures in place, and is their restaurant open? The latter is important, as you will need to eat and the last thing you want to do is wander around the town that you find yourself in, which will probably be unfamiliar, looking for a decent restaurant that has suitable and sufficient COVID-secure measures in place.
Pre-travelling quick checklist:
- Transport (from your home to your destination/hotel/where you will be working)
- Accommodation/hotel – do they have suitable and sufficient COVID precautions in place?
- Are they any restrictions at your destination? The Government website has this information listed
- Find out where the local COVID testing centre is (just in case)
- Have you downloaded the NHS COVID-19 track and trace app?
- Have you enough suitable PPE and hand sanitiser to take with you?
- Have you completed your travel RA and sent it to your line manager?
The most important consideration while you are travelling is to keep yourself safe and away from large crowds, which can be difficult if you are on a train or plane.
The SOAP© Model
SOAP (Surface – Object – Area – People) is Cardinus' dynamic COVID risk assessment. The model helps you identify any places that are high risk, and if you have undergone our COVID awareness training, this will help you identify the control measures that you can use to lower the personal risk to yourself.
SOAP is a simple methodology, allowing rapid risk assessment of the environment you find yourself in.
The virus that causes COVID-19 can be transferred from contaminated surface contact. The Surface assessment should make people aware of the 'things' they touch, such as door handles, workstation surfaces, etc.
In conjunction with a surface assessment, the Object assessment should make people aware of the objects they touch which could be contaminated, such as handling cash (coins and bank notes), objects in the supermarket (tins, bags of veg, etc), cups/glasses, etc.
The Area assessment allows people to identify whether the area they are going into is COVID secure, meaning that they have COVID precautions in place, such as signage to confirm that they have met the Government standards for risk assessment, social distancing, hand sanitising stations, and people are wearing PPE.
The People assessment allows individuals to assess whether the area they are going into has too many people, whether people are wearing PPE, whether people are in an obviously at-risk group (e.g. elderly people), etc.
For information on how SOAP works, and to enquire about our training models for SOAP, contact [email protected].
If you are driving, remember that you still need to take care of yourself, having a break every 2 hours. Most service stations have COVID precautions in place and don't forget to wear your mask.
If you are taking a train or bus, all main transport companies have COVID safe measures in place. You will notice seats have been cordoned off to ensure social distancing (as much as you can on a bus/train). Wherever possible, buy your ticket in advance, this is to avoid using any publicly accessible machines. If you do need to use these, make sure you wash your hands afterwards (or carry hand sanitiser). Try and avoid eating and drinking on public transport, as this will involve you removing your mask, and will increase your chances of getting exposed to the COVID-19 virus. If you are using your mobile or laptop or tablet on public transport, remember to clean the surfaces when you can, to reduce the chance of surface-to-surface transfer of the virus.
If you are taking a plane, all airports and commercial flight services have COVID precautions in place. Some airlines have additional control measures, for example, some insist on individuals having a row on a plane to themselves. Regardless if you are travelling with somebody in the same household or bubble, these measures are for your safety. And don't forget to wear your mask!
If you are thinking about whether to take a train/bus or plane, and are working out which one you believe is safer, just think about the following:
- What are the destinations levels of COVID infection – are you travelling into a higher risk location?
- How long will each method of transport take? Will you be fatigued or stressed?
- How many different individuals would you be exposed to? You may think that being on a plane, you would be exposed to more people, but if you are travelling from Southern England to Northern Scotland, you are more than likely to encounter more people on a train than you would on a plane. Furthermore, carrying out track and trace for a plane is far easier than for a train, as people get on and off.
Monitoring Your Health
Once you have travelled, for both directions, monitor your health (or symptoms) for at least 7 days. If you start to develop a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change in your sense or smell or taste, then you should get tested and contact the track and trace service.
Travel Risk Assessment for COVID-19
We’ve developed a free travel risk assessment for COVID-19. Using the examples in the document and the information from the article you can see quickly how to build a travel risk assessment and what information should be stored within it. This is an important document that will help health and safety and travel managers to understand the risks associated with business travel while COVID persists in our society, and is suitable to identify relevant health and safety hazards, evaluate the risks associated with business travel, and to evaluate the effectiveness of control measures.
Download the travel risk assessment for COVID-19 by filling in the form below.