There are links below to a couple of documents we think clients will find useful at the moment; the second of which we have produced to help clients assess vulnerable employees’ return to the workplace.
But first, a very useful poster or information card has been published by IOSH this week, reminding employers about how to encourage and maintain a positive health and safety culture during the pandemic.
It is all about clear communications, leading by example, listening, being open, clear and consistent. It is also about applying a risk-based approach to COVID ways of working safely, additional to standard working practices. Its seven-point plan reminds employers about both the importance of health and safety and implementing it properly in the workplace.
And, not forgetting, as many of the leading industry bodies constantly remind us, about your employees’ well-being and mental health. These are tough and talent challenging times so remaining safe, and acting appropriately and responsibly is crucial as it shows good leadership, which in turn creates a positive health & safety culture.
The publication can be found here.
We have also been asked a number of times how employers can health risk assess whether employees, who might be vulnerable, can remain or return to the workplace.
Our advice continues to be that the employer and employee need to talk openly about health issues and concerns, making joint decisions where practicable based on that consultation. To help formalise the process, we have put together a very simple COVID health risk questionnaire. The questionnaire may be easy, but there are three potential pitfalls:
- You may not know about an employee’s health conditions, so you have to talk to them in a way that gets them to be honest, especially as talking about people’s weight is a sensitive subject, and often people will not recognise that they fall into the definition of being obese.
- You need to consider and discuss how people who fall into the medium or high risk categories can be protected by making additional reasonable adjustments, such as changing their duties, workplace, PPE provision, screening etc.
- Do not ignore an employee’s concern if they appear to be low risk, but have other serious underlying health conditions not identified on the questionnaire. Be sensitive to people’s health and safety worries, and above all else, remember that if it is effective for people to work from home then let them continue to do so.
When risk assessing for COVID-19, aim to reach a balanced and proportionate response which demonstrates that your priorities are keeping employees safe whilst needing to maintain your operations.
Our Consultants would be pleased to advise you on any element of the issues arising from this newsletter.