Return to work safely, says HSE
With the Covid restrictions being lifted, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is reminding companies of their responsibility to keep employees and customers safe.
And HSE says its inspectors will be visiting companies to carry out spot checks to make sure Covid-secure measures are in place. HSE has posted a video on YouTube about the spot checks that you can watch here.
Being Covid-secure means being adaptable to the latest guidance and putting measures in place to manage the risk of coronavirus – and making sure workers understand and comply with those measures. Get all of them involved at all stages.
During the spot checks HSE inspectors will provide guidance where required. But where businesses are not managing the risk HSE warns that immediate action will be taken.
Every workplace should have a COVID risk assessment (click here to see what that should involve) and it should be updated regularly.
Workplace control measures in place should include:
- Social distancing
- Physical barriers (glass or perspex, perhaps) between close work stations
- Adequate ventilation
- Frequent cleaning and handwashing
- Protecting vulnerable workers
- Staggered breaks and start and a finish times.
Returning to work might be difficult for some workers. Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it.
The earlier a problem is identified and tackled the less impact it will have. HSE has a range of practical support and guidance available to support mental health and wellbeing at work including risk assessment templates for stress, talking toolkits to help start conversations with your colleagues, workbooks, posters, a mobile app and an automated stress indicator tool. For more information visit the stress section of HSE's website here.
If employees have been away from the business for prolonged periods they might need additional time and support to get back to pre-pandemic performance. They might need re-training.
If equipment has been stored or unused for long periods of time, check it for damage or deterioration. Don’t forget lifting equipment.
If your building has been closed or had reduced occupancy during the coronavirus restrictions, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of legionnaires’ disease. See the HSE guidance on legionella risks during the coronavirus pandemic here.
If you have specific questions about health & safety contact your local inspector or see if you can find an answer on the HSE website at the address below.