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Safe and healthy return to work

   Safe and healthy return to work

There will be few, if any, workplaces that remain unchanged by COVID-19.

Those organisations employing key workers have already introduced changes to cope with the pandemic, and have had to do so as the picture unfolds.

However, those businesses now gearing up to re-start have new health and safety considerations to build into their risk assessment procedures and risk management plan.

The three guiding principles RoSPA has been sharing throughout the pandemic are: providing an instruction to follow; provide a behaviour to adopt; and provide information to share.

These principles put people at the heart of sustainable improvement, which will be fundamentally important as the economy recovers.

Typically, when talking about a healthy return, OSH professionals would be referring to employees returning to work after a period of rehabilitation. Lockdown has created a population of employees who will be returning to workplaces that will be quite different to those they left just weeks ago, and the impact of social distancing will have made its mark in terms of anxiety and depleted mental health.

So how do we create the right conditions for a safe and healthy return, that help people to begin to thrive?
In a rapidly changing situation, PAUSE:
  • Prioritize your people and consult with them
  • Assess the risk of exposure to COVID-19
  • Update your risk management plan
  • Support those with depleted mental health
  • Evaluate the impact of the changes. Are they being adhered to?
This is all language that OSH professionals understand.

Introducing changes, for example to accommodate social distancing, may create additional risks so it’s a time for big picture thinking: How do you ensure that vehicles are hygienically clean at handover stage between shifts? Or common areas where staff eat, shower and change?

And all of this runs alongside the hazards and risks that are part of your operation and still need to be managed.
This is a time for clear communication. No mixed messages. And take time with people to make sure they understand – it will save lives.

Getting back to “normal” while adhering to the Government’s COVID Secure guidelines is no easy task. RoSPA can help to provide reassurance to you and your organisation by reviewing your risk assessments.

Check out our COVID-19 Back-to-Work Review, which we’re delivering to give you peace of mind.

Dr Karen McDonnell, occupational safety and health policy adviser

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Posted: 5/19/2020 3:12:31 PM 0 comments


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