As we are all definitely aware, the year 2020 was affected by COVID-19 in a way that no one could have seen coming. Health and Safety within the workplace completely transformed and a huge number of hazards and risks were introduced.
As a result of this huge change, businesses had to react quickly, implement many processes and procedures to deal with these hazards.
Unfortunately, as we are all aware, there will still be COVID-19 control measures and restrictions in place at the start of 2021.
There will be many changes to Health and Safety in the workplace in 2021.
There will be a completely different view on the way to approach Health and Safety in the workplace.
If I asked you to summarise Health and Safety in the workplace, it is likely you would think along the lines of undertaking risk assessments, manual handling training and implementing policies.
If you were to think this, you are still completely right, however most people bypass the metal health and wellbeing of their employees when talking about health and safety in the workplace.
The mental health and wellbeing of employees should always be covered, and provisions should be in place to cover this, however during this COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever.
One major change of Health and Safety in the workplace is the mass and important focus on employee’s mental health, as well as their physical health.
Employees mental health may be affected in many ways due to this COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, employees that have been furloughed for a long amount of time, may be feeling as though they are no longer part of the work team, or they may feel distant.
Staff that have to work from home may be feeling lonely for example, especially if they live on their own. A start to mitigating this, is to simply check up on your employees often.
You can update them, check up on how they are doing, remind them that they can speak to their manager about any concerns.
As a business, if you have any shortcomings in Health and Safety, you are vulnerable to prosecution from the HSE. Not only do you need to worry about all your policies, risk assessments, training, checks etc, you now need to ensure your premises and all activities are COVID-19 safe and secure.
A first step towards achieving this
Is to undertake a COVID-19 risk assessment. Within this risk assessment, you will identify where additional control measures are needed to mitigate the risk and spread of infection.
After implementing all these control measures and achieving a COVID-19 safe business premises, your procedures and processes for maintaining this COVID-19 safe environment, will need to be communicated to all employees.
If an employee’s feels their place of work is not COVID-19 safe and secure, and they feel their safety is at risk, then they may choose to report you to the HSE.
This may cause many complications; therefore, it is very important that you pay lots of attention this.
An increase in monitoring employee’s workload should be undertaken. As the COVID-19 restrictions start to fade out in 2021, it is likely workload will also start to increase as usually work activities can start to begin again.
If this is the case, employees will likely have an increase in workload. An increase in an employee’s workload can have a strain on their mental and physical health, if the workload is unmanageable.
This can cause many unwanted problems for both the employee and employer; therefore, it is important to ensure constant monitoring is undertaking.
A high increase in return to works will be apparent in 2021. A return to work is a form of open communication between the employee retuning to work, and the employer.
As an employer, you may find yourself undertaking these return to works frequently due to employees returning from furlough or isolation from a COVID-19 case.
A return to work is very important for understanding the employee’s current situation, and to see if they are fit and safe to come back to work.
Within this return to work, you may discuss any changes within the business since the employers was last in, any personal circumstances or events that may have impacted the employee’s mental health and the future plans of the employer.
As you discuss these topics, a return to work is not only beneficial to the employer, but it is also beneficial to the employee.
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