A rushed, inappropriate or ill-thought-out return to work could spell financial disaster for organisations.
That’s the warning from RoSPA’s occupational safety and health policy adviser, Dr Karen McDonnell, as many employers across England start to ease their staff back into physical workplaces.
The Government and Health and Safety Executive have developed detailed guidance on how different workplaces can be reopened safely, to allow those who cannot work from home to return.
But if the guidelines are not strictly adhered to, and good health and safety practice is substituted for speed of return, then organisations could be bringing about their own downfall.
Karen, who has worked in the sector for more than 30 years, said: “Decades of experience tell us that good health and safety is good for business and good for the economy. The Government guidelines for risk assessment are based on existing good practice, and are designed to minimise the risk for employees, customers and others.
“It's so important that businesses follow these and get their employees’ return to work right, not just for the health and wellbeing of their staff and the wider community, but also for their financial future. Get it wrong, and there could be serious repercussions for the bottom line, either in the event of an outbreak happening or the organisation becoming known for having a lax attitude to safety. And let’s not forget that health and safety is all about people – enabling workers and others to go home to their loved ones safe and healthy at the end of each day. This should be at the forefront of employers’ minds.
“I urge organisations not to rush this process, as it’s vital we all get this right. And any organisations thinking of cutting corners should heed this warning. You may also be risking criminal and civil proceedings as a result of any poor practice.”
RoSPA has developed an at-cost review service, for organisations looking to reassure themselves of their preparations for return to work. The COVID Back-to-Work Review, which involves a site visit, is available now. See www.rospa.com/Shop/Products/COVID-19-Back-to-Work-Review