The health and safety best practices we have been used to pre-2020 have changed significantly once the pandemic has rolled around. And as we are still very much in the midst of it, how we can protect our employees’ health and wellbeing, as well as their physical safety at the office, still weighs heavily on our minds.
Let’s go over some of the tips every business should be implementing in 2021.
Working From Home is Here to Stay
Your employees may still be working from home part-time or full-time, and this is a trend that is expected to continue for a while. And while you can’t influence their at-home safety and health setup, there are certain things you can help with.
Offer computer maintenance, first aid kits, and online training that will teach your teams how to safely work from the comforts of their own home. This will also encompass learning how to ensure their electrics are doing okay despite the increased demand for power.
Safely Returning to Work
When the UK lockdown(s) do lift, returning to work will certainly be governed by a specific set of new rules and regulations. Until that moment arrives, however, we cannot be sure what to expect.
Some basic measures you can implement yourself, such as:
- Disinfect your entire premises before your staff returns to work.
- Provide enough hand sanitizers and disposable masks for everyone.
- Outline a clear way of disposing of said masks.
- Ensure the space gets plenty of fresh air.
Define situations in which masks are obligatory and when they are optional (for example, employees don’t have to wear them when they are alone in their private office). Wearing a mask can help reduce the risk of infection, and even though they are not always comfortable, make them a part of the new routine.
Assess the Risk
Depending on the number of people you employ, how crowded your workspace is, and the personal safety and precaution measures each employee has been practicing while working from home, you may discover that there is still a significant level of risk present.
You can choose to remain in WHF mode for longer, until your at-risk or even all of your employees have been vaccinated. Or, you can welcome some of your staff back to the office while asking others to remain at home. This will also depend on your company’s organization.
Try to prepare yourself as early as possible, and have all of your own measures and steps planned out well in advance. When the government guidelines do arrive, you’ll have an easier time adjusting.
Apart from the coronavirus, there are other health and safety issues you should be tackling at the workplace.
Start by identifying any potential hazard. Do you have a particularly slippery step in the lobby? Does a window not shut correctly? Do your installations need checking?
You can go online and find a list of common workplace hazards and go through it to check if you may have one on hand yourself. Go through every space, including the utility rooms and toilets, and figure out what might be a potential health or safety risk.
Tackle the Hazards
Once you’ve identified all of your potential hazards and risks, write a list of all of them and rank them according to level of danger. Your aim is to tackle all of them, but you may not be able to do it all at once, so starting with the biggest threat is your best option.
Try to eliminate the potential hazard. Get a professional to help if you can’t do it yourself (especially if it has something to do with electrics, machinery, or any other facet you need to be an expert in to be able to fix).
Replace what can’t be fixed. And if you are still left with items on your list that can’t be fixed or replaced, write out clear policies and operating procedures for tackling the issue.
Train Your Staff
People mostly find health and safety training quite boring because it is abstract and plain dull. However, if you tailor your training to specifically your office, your equipment, and the situations that can reasonably arise, you will be highlighting the importance of this training and making it more obviously valuable.
Get someone who specializes in workplace health and safety and who is familiar with all of the rules, regulations, and best practices to handle the training for you.
After the training itself, make sure you book additional, regular sessions in a year’s time, so that you can refresh everyone’s memory and tackle any new issues that may arise in the meantime.
Write Everything Down
Finally, you want to have every rule, guideline, and requirement written down. You will be required to do so by laws as well, but for your own peace of mind, compile a guidebook for yourself and your staff.
Make sure everyone gets a copy and that they understand what they need to do in the most basic of situations – like a lightbulb fizzing out – as well as with more serious threats, like fires.
With the coronavirus still a threat as well, write down your new personal hygiene rules and regulations as well. That will include guidelines about hand washing, hand sanitizers, the sanitization of office space, etc.
Health and safety in the workplace can be quite a nightmare, especially if you allow a lot of time to go by between training sessions, safety checks, and evaluations. To make things easier for everyone, you’ll also need to stay on top of the latest laws and regulations.
Instead of thinking of the process as a hassle, think of it as a way of ensuring your company keeps running smoothly. After all, if someone gets injured, you will instantly be less productive.
Employees who know you are thinking of their health and safety will appreciate your care and investment. Consequently, they will be likely to perform better as they’ll feel valued and protected. Take your time to ensure everything in the H&S department is top-notch, and you will be able to sleep more soundly.
Sarah Kaminski is a freelance writer and social media marketer. She works with a number of small businesses to build their brands through more engaging marketing and content.