Returning to business with COVID-19

Returning to business with COVID-19 requires planning and plan you must.

If any of your workers are diagnosed with COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence that the virus was contracted at work, there is a legal requirement for employers to report this under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Failing to do this is technically a criminal offence.

Risk assess

A legal requirement for all business. Do a risk assessment and keep it updated.

This week the Government published eight sector specific guidelines, designed to help businesses become “COVID-19 secure”. Many professional organisations have published guidance specific to their industries too. Make sure you use these.

One size doesn’t always fit all when taking precautions to protect workers. Pregnant workers, workers with underlying health conditions, those with family caring responsibilities, or they may be shielding – workers are individuals and must be treated as such. The virus appears to affect more men than women. People from BAME groups also appear to be more susceptible. Protecting the higher risk and maintaining equality in the workplace both feature in the Government’s COVID-19 secure guidelines.

Speak to your workers. They want to know they will be safe at work. They know their jobs best. Listen to their views about how they think they can and what they need to work safely as well as where they are most at risk. This will help you get it right for your workers and your business.

The Government guidelines expect businesses with more than 50 workers to publish their risk assessments online.

Have a plan and take action

Have a plan and take action. Communicate the plan and the associated action to your workers. Let them know you have thoroughly considered their safety and have measures in place to keep them safe.

Your plan and action could include (but not limited to):

  • Staff training on COVID-19 and how to stay safe at work, including the new measures you have put in place for this
  • Consultation, meetings and other communications as well a contact with staff to ensure they feel involved, feel safe enough to report incidents, suggest improvements and express their concerns.
  • Your plan for identifying symptomatic workers, isolating them, obtaining testing and tracing those they work with
  • Introducing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Limiting the number of people in your workplace at one time
  • Ensuring contractors or organisations you work with have strategies for minimising transmission risk and you are co-ordinating them to them to manage risk.
  • Keeping up to date with industry guidance and Government rules
  • Ensuring all the above are working!

Information and advice

Returning to business with COVID-19 requires planning. The new normal means risk assessing, planning and taking action to keep our employees safe and our businesses successful. There are lots of places offering official and free information and guidance you can go to for help and advice. There is so much wrong information on the internet so source information and guidance carefully.  Official sources to help your business with managing COVID-19 health and safety challenges include:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  2. UK Government guidance on “Working safely during coronavirus”
  3. ACAS
  4. The professional organisation(s) representing your industry

Rosecroft Health and Safety is here to help you and your business with their health and safety requirement. NEBOSH qualified and ISO 45001 Lead Implementor trained.

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