With restrictions easing and government guidance changing, you may be wondering what happens now? Does everything return to how it was in early March 2020? Well, no. Covid hasn’t disappeared and we know that contracting it remains a risk. All employers have a legal duty to manage their risks. So how do we manage the risks in a sensible and pragmatic way to reduce the risks to our staff?
There are a number of things that you can do to reduce the spread. Firstly, update your risk assessment, taking account of the recent changes to guidance. You should also consider any particularly vulnerable workers. Cleaning and hygiene remain powerful controls to reduce the likelihood of coronavirus spreading. Keep your workplace clean and promote regular handwashing.
Get those windows open! Improving ventilation, whilst still maintaining a comfortable temperature can be very effective in reducing the spread of coronavirus. Just remember that improving ventilation does not mean that fire doors, that are designed to be closed (unless held open with automatic closers) should be wedged open!
Many businesses will still have staff working from home. Moving forwards some businesses will keep home workers and other may adopt a hybrid approach of partly office based and partly from home. If there is to be any good that has come from the last 18 months, then the introduction of more flexible working practices may well be it. If staff are working from home, you will need to provide the equipment they need and make sure that you keep regular contact with them, ensuring that you check on their wellbeing.
The last 18 months is likely to have changed people. Some staff will have been very personally affected by the pandemic and others may well feel very cautious about changes. It is really important to talk and involve staff in the steps that you are taking to manage the risks of coronavirus. You will need to respect that different staff may well have quite a contrast in opinion, which will need to be managed. It is important that you explain any changes that you are planning to make and that you ensure that changes will work and that you listen to staff. They will likely have some great ideas of their own! After all, a team approach is often the best approach!
Article written by: Emma Larkins CMIOSH – Health & Safety Consultant & Tutor