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
2. The employee is not able to work
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 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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
If you would like further support on a return to work risk assessment, please contact our team for more information.
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 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.
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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