National Association of Security Dog Users
Advice to members on new Covid 19 lockdown 2021
NASDU alongside everyone else can only make suggestions and recommendations on our interpretation of government advice. Therefore, we strongly recommend that our members read the available government instructions/advice to ensure compliance to suit their own individual circumstances.
If you are in the vulnerable category you should continue to take all the shielding advice with no change. If you think you have Covid 19 or someone in your household has symptoms you should self-isolate and follow government guidelines.
The latest government advice on working is as follows:-
‘Going to work
You may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home.
Where people cannot work from home – including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing – they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.
The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.’
Broadly speaking the advice is not greatly different in the devolved government areas of the United Kingdom but companies operating in these areas need to check on their individual advice from the devolved authorities.
NASDU recommends that training/assessments for operational general purpose security dog teams and working detection dog teams should continue to ensure the continuation of safety and quality delivered by our members. However, unless an employer has a particular concern over welfare or safety, we suggest that only quarterly and annual training assessments are carried out.
Animal welfare and operational handling should be monitored by companies during normal supervisor visits to sites. We would also suggest that during the initial month of this new lockdown that handlers, that are up to date with training, due to take assessments be given some leeway perhaps putting them back to February.
We do understand that training will have to be adjusted to allow for handlers and trainers to remain safe, if any exercises on the assessments are deemed by trainer/handler to increase risk of infection they can be changed during this period if it is noted and justified on the assessment forms.
Handlers that are deemed to be in the extremely vulnerable groups should not be working therefore should not be training. Handlers or trainers who have been in contact with, been tested positive or is exhibiting symptoms of covid should not be working and therefore should not attend training. These would-be reasonable excuses for having a break in training records, however once dog teams return to work employers should ensure that they are operationally compliant especially after an extended break.
NASDU particularly wants trainers, security companies and handlers supplying dogs to make sure animal welfare standards and safe handling/control of dogs is being ensured. To this end annual and quarterly assessments should be conducted in person unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Detection dog teams that are not working and are not expecting to work for several months due to the current situation are not expected to keep current with formal training at present. However, they are expected to keep personal training records up to date and if they have a break in formal training for over three months should complete a full annual assessment before returning to work. Again, training for detection dogs can be adapted to be safe if deviations and reasons are notated on any assessment forms.
NASDU would like to remind all members that normal workplace legislation including health and safety regulations are still in place so it is imperative that although it is difficult best practice should still be followed otherwise employers/handlers could find themselves in legal difficulties. It is unlikely that if there is a serious incident on site that covid-19 will be excepted as an excuse for not following best practise and ensuring duty of care.
Companies carrying out training and deploying dog handlers should carry out a written covid-19 risk assessment and follow government advice, to do this they should go to the government website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19 and follow the instructions for construction and other outdoor work and possibly offices and contact centres.
NASDU is very proud of its members who have continued to work during this emergency providing a important service to there clients and we have also heard of many of our members that have volunteered in their communities or have been assisting the NHS and other organisations. We hope that by following the advice from government and being proactive our members will help the effort to battle the virus and to restart the economy.
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