Occupational Health Support for COVID-19 Coronavirus

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Since the arrival of COVID-19, and the onset of lockdown and social distancing rules, a complete disruption in both people’s home and work lives has taken place. This global pandemic is something that none of us has ever experienced within our lifetime, filling many of us with feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.

Big changes have occurred for both employers and for employees. For those who were employed prior to coronavirus, there has almost most certainly been a change in their lives, and they will now fall into one of two categories:

1. The employee is able to work

  • The employee has continued to go into work, operating under social distancing rules and new regulations as set out by the government. Perhaps they’re now wearing PPE, or some of their usual team are working from home or on furlough.
  • They’re working from home. Many employees who are currently working for home are not used to doing so. This change in their working environment and a lack of team around them will likely have put a strain on their mental health.

2. The employee is not able to work

  • The employee has been put on furlough.
  • The employee is social shielding or lives with someone who is.
  • The employee has been made redundant.
  • The employee is self-isolating, as either themselves or a member of their households has tested positive for COVID-19.

Millions of workers across the UK have been affected by changes in the guidelines, rules as well as the furlough scheme. However, with lockdown restrictions, easing, and businesses beginning to reopen there is a lot to think about. Our job in Occupational Health is to play a part in helping employees return to work safely, happily and healthily. This page will give you some more information on how we can support your business and your people, and the factors to consider when returning to work.

Mental Health & Employee Wellness

Mental health is a huge factor during this global pandemic. As well as thinking about physical procedures that need to be put in place to operate safely, firstly you need to think about the wellbeing of your staff. Employees are likely to feel anxious for a number of reasons:

  • They are social shielding or live with somebody who is.
  • They feel apprehensive about catching the virus.
  • They are feeling anxious about returning to work after working from home.
  • If they have children, they may feel anxious about letting them return to school/nursery.

If you have employees working from home, they may also be struggling with feelings of loneliness, feeling unproductive and generally feeling more anxious than usual. All of these factors are important to consider when making business decisions, and beginning a return to work process. Our health and wellbeing service is designed to help you to put the steps in place to improve employee’s happiness and wellbeing, whether that’s around a phased return to work, or to support them whilst they are currently working from home.

Management Referrals

Throughout this time, we have been in touch with all of our clients to offer our help and support them as best as we can. We are still able to offer management/occupational health referrals to businesses, operating this service by telephone or by Zoom. This service operates in much the same way as previously; we will speak to the employee in more detail about any issues or worries that they may be experiencing, then a report will be written up and sent through to the relevant HR or Line Manager.

Find out more about how to make an Occupational Health referral, and the process surrounding this on our blog.

Health Surveillance

The current guidance from the HSE surrounding health surveillance is that we can only carry out paper-based assessment and face to face assessments have been deferred. However, this could change in the coming weeks.

Once these restrictions are lifted, we have procedures to put in place to keep our clients, and our team safe. This includes:

  • Working in a room that’s more than 2m x 2m.
  • Cleaning equipment down between each appointment.
  • Our OH Technicians will be wearing appropriate PPE wherever required.
  • Lung Function testing will be done through paper questionnaire only.
  • Hand sanitiser provided to each staff member.
  • We will be asking each employee to wash their hands before attending their appointment.
  • If any employees who arrive for their assessment are showing symptoms, they will be asked to go home and HR/Management will be informed.

Return to Work Risk Assessment

We have put together a free Return to Work Risk Assessment following Covid-19 over on our resources page. This helps to give you a guide on what to put in place in your workplace in order to introduce employees safely back into the workplace. However, risks and control measures will be different for each business, and in different sectors, so you should refer to sector-specific guidance during this process.

General guidelines surround:

  • Does the employee need to be at work physically, or can they continue to work from home?
  • Can they travel to work whilst socially distancing?
  • Is there a 2m distance between employees?
  • If employees have to be in work, is there sufficient hand cleaning facilities?
  • Do they have a shared canteen area?
  • If yes, can the facility use be staggered?
  • Has the employee been unwell during the pandemic?
  • If yes, consider Occupational Health review
  • Does the employee understand what action they should take if they become unwell with COVID-19 symptoms – new, continuous cough and/or a high temperature) whilst at work?

If you would like further support on a return to work risk assessment, please contact our team for more information. 

Face Fit Testing – COVID 19 Coronavirus

We offer assessments, advice and support for businesses in line with HSE Face Fit Testing requirements and legal requirements as the final line of defence against COVID-19 and other hazardous substances. It’s important that face fit testing is carried out prior to wearing RPE for the first time, without it you’re putting yours or your employee’s life in danger. It’s important to re-test when there is a change in the RPE or a change in the individual which may be affecting the fit of the RPE.

During this time, we are doing everything possible to minimise the transmission of COVID-19 during our Face Fit Testing service. We can make observations from a distance and deliver any instructions verbally to avoid unnecessary contact. Other actions include the following:

  • We ask that those who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or are isolating do not attend a face fit test with us.
  • We ask both our team, and those being face fit tested to wash their hands before and after the test has taken place.
  • If closer observation is required by one of the team, those being fitted should keep their respirators on.
  • If you are being fit tested with non-disposable masks, we ask that you clean the mask yourself before and after the test using a suitable disinfectant.
  • For RPE that cannot be adequately disinfected (e.g. disposable half masks), these should not be used by more than one person.
  • Our fit testers will be wearing disposable gloves when cleaning tubes and hood etc. These gloves should be immediately disposed of after use.
  • All other materials, such as disposable masks, cleaning wipes etc will be immediately disposed of in a waste bin following the test.

If you would like to find out more about fit testing face masks for COVID-19 (Coronavirus), you can read more information over on our blog.

COVID-19 Support / Advice For Employees

We are able to contact and provide support to employees who are showing symptoms or have been in direct contact with someone with COVID-19. We are able to offer support and provide information on where to get tested as well as confirming government guidelines such as self-isolating for 14 days.

Supporting your Business through COVID-19 Coronavirus

We are passionate about supporting businesses in getting their employees back to work in a safe, efficient and productive way. If you have any questions about how we can support you or your employees during this time, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Information reviewed and correct as of 17th June 2020.

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