Energy companies and other industries are now taking part in workplace COVID-19 testing schemes which – following calls from Energy UK on behalf of its members – were expanded to include the option for home testing.
Energy companies including Octopus and RWE participated in successful pilot schemes at their offices, control rooms and power plants, and others have been able to register their interest with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), who run the scheme.
Regular testing of asymptomatic staff (and visitors) with lateral flow antigen tests, which provide rapid results within 30 minutes, means affected staff can isolate immediately, curbing the inadvertent spread of infection and so helping limit the impact of the virus on workforces and operations.
Energy UK has liaised closely with the DHSC throughout and after relaying calls from members for the schemes to include home testing, the scheme was expanded to include provision for staff to receive kits and carry out tests at home (‘workplace collect’). This helps employees out in the field, like installers and engineers, and extends the industry’s ongoing efforts to protect its workforce and provide confidence to its customers.
Since the start of the pandemic, companies right across the sector have quickly adapted their operations to ensure the welfare of their staff and customers while keeping the delivery of an essential service uninterrupted.
Health Minister Lord Bethell said:
“With around one in three positive COVID cases not showing symptoms, we know regular, rapid testing of employees is going to be pivotal to our journey out of this pandemic.
“I am delighted to see energy companies like Octopus and RWE leading the way in demonstrating how regular testing, including workplace testing, will help drive this virus into retreat and safely reopen parts of our economy and society in the weeks ahead.”
Greg Jackson, CEO and Founder of Octopus Energy, said:
“I’m so glad that we took the chance and set up COVID-19 testing in our offices when the government first approached us in December last year. The response from our team has been overwhelmingly positive, and today everyone who comes into the office also takes a test.
“Workplace testing plays an essential role in tackling the pandemic and bringing us back on the road to normality, and I encourage every company to follow our path and offer regular testing to their employees so together we can help stop the spread.”
Lisa Curlett-Harrison, Security Partner at RWE, said:
“RWE is committed to ensuring the health and wellbeing of all its employees and has implemented key preventative measures for all workers on our sites. The COVID-19 workplace testing has provided an additional layer of protection for those colleagues who need to be in the workplace. People have engaged well with the programme and this has provided additional reassurance to our colleagues that their workplace is COVID-19 secure. The company also see that this could enable a more active return to the workplace as restrictions ease.”
Notes to editors
- The deadline to apply for the workplace testing scheme was 12 April 2021 but employees can access rapid lateral flow tests to do at home.