The lockdown will be eased at some point and when this happens, it will usher in a new way of working. For many businesses, this will be a period of change that could become a permanent way of working. From a health and safety point of view, the post-lockdown period will bring change. But what could they be?
Lockdown is now being eased in some European countries and although we are yet to do the same in the UK, many businesses are considering how they workplaces will function post-lockdown.
Will you need to rewrite your risk assessment?
If you plan on making changes to how and when people work, it will be interesting to re-visit your current risk assessment. The likelihood is that for some workplaces, the proximity of employees with one another will necessitate a change in how they work.
A risk assessment is an essential health and safety tool that allows you to identify hazards and objectively measure the risk to employees, contractors and the public. Coronavirus is not the only health issue that could affect your staff and others, but it will remain at the forefront of business planning for some time to come.
Health and safety considerations
Training & awareness
The way that we interact at work – and outside of work – has changed beyond recognition due to pandemic. What has also been highlighted is the need to be more aware of ‘high-touch’ points e.g. keyboards, handles, keypads and the like and, more importantly, how often and effectively these are cleaned.
From a health and safety point of view, you must take all reasonable steps to keep employees safe from physical and mental harm whilst at work. A safe working environment includes a clean work environment. A professional cleaning service may be the answer in some instances, including a disinfection and decontamination service too.
Until now, we have perhaps not been aware nor concerned about how physically close we work with others. It may be that there is no other option. Space may be limited or the nature of work may mean that there are few other options such as nursing, social care, for example, or on civil engineering projects and similar.
A risk assessment will identify what needs to change and if this is possible, putting in place measures and actions that need to be taken to minimise contact but also the length of contact when working closely with other people.
There are also concerns about managing public-accessed areas when attempting to follow social distancing rules.
Continue working from home or flexi-working
For many businesses, employees working from home during lockdown will have proved beneficial for both the business and employee. It may be that you continue with this arrangement – some issues may need resolving such as information security, a topic we recently covered.
Alternatively, you may want to consider flexi-working, an opportunity for employees to work from home and from the office, as well as different hours for staff and so on.
Health and safety is key in any business but the recent pandemic has thrown a light on how and why we operate a business. Maybe now is the time for change?