To enable a safe return for its 1,800-strong manufacturing workforce, Bentley has increased its rapid antigen testing programme four-fold to ensure all colleagues returning to site are tested and COVID-safe before full production resumes.

This means administering 1,800 tests within a two day period, taking the total number of antigen tests provided by Bentley to nearly 15,000 since May last year. Just 272 mostly asymptomatic colleagues have returned positive COVID-19 tests in that time, with those affected then undertaking full self-isolation periods, regularly checked upon by Bentley’s Occupational Health team. As a mark of the success of Bentley’s testing programme, there have been no proven cases of on-site transmission yet recorded.

But to be sure its Crewe site is a safe as it can be, Bentley sought external validation at the beginning of this year from Imperial College London and also independent occupational health specialists, Optima Health. They confirmed that Bentley’s 250 comprehensive and wide-ranging hygiene and social distancing measures introduced last year will remain in order to maximise the safety of production colleagues. This includes compulsory facemasks on site, enhanced cleaning routines and one-way movement and traffic flows throughout.

Furthermore, a new site risk assessment app for all colleagues, designed, developed and deployed by Bentley’s own digital team, has been launched. This encourages extra vigilance especially in light of new COVID variants, details the thorough safety measures, including home self-assessment before the working day starts, and acts as a two-way dialogue between colleagues and health and safety representatives to heighten wellbeing around site.

Commenting on the extra precautions Bentley is taking, Dr. Astrid Fontaine, Member of the Board for People, Digitalisation and IT, Bentley Motors, said: “As we begin a new year under challenging circumstances, we remain committed to not only maintaining our strong lines of defence, but reinforcing them. The health, safety and wellbeing of our colleagues, their families and our communities will always be our number one priority and the measures that we have put in place will protect us in the short-term, while also building a secure basis for our future exciting strategic ambitions and growth, in 2021 and beyond.”

Where on-site working is non-essential, colleagues will continue remote working which includes around 60% of Bentley’s 4,000-strong workforce. This helps control the workforce density on site throughout the day and minimises the risk of exposure to colleagues.

Bentley is also taking steps to help alleviate - where possible - childcare and home-schooling challenges that follow the recent closure of schools in the UK and the wider impact of lockdown on personal wellbeing. For parents, this includes additional flexibility around working patterns and the offer of additional laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots to support home-schooling where needed. A strong emphasis on wellbeing and care for all colleagues impacted continues.

In the wider community, Bentley’s crisis support efforts continue and widen. In addition to making at least 30 laptops available to local schools for those families in need of support with home education, the company is again encouraging colleagues to volunteer in the local community. Bentley products and support vehicles will be made available to deliver essential items in the community including food and medication to those in need through the ‘Meals on 22 inch wheels’ service.

With the high level of demand for volunteers around the country to support with the vaccination programme, and Bentley becoming partners to a number of support initiatives, the company is also encouraging colleagues to take part and volunteer to help at this critical time.