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How safety at work has been impacted by the rise of the pandemic

3 min read

The far-reaching impact of Coronavirus has led to the vast transformation of many different businesses and industries around the world. All this change is bound to have an impact on how we manage health and safety within the workplace. These changes will be both from a compliance and mental health perspective. What exactly will these changes be? We have done our best to detail the changes that we might see in the health and safety industry. 

  • Managing mental health is going to become even more important 

Mental health has been gaining a lot more traction in recent years as health and safety practitioners have realised its importance in keeping people safe and healthy while at work and at home. With many being forced to adjust to working from home, there are a lot more variables to consider. Whilst many may prefer working from home, for others, it can be isolating and could lead to detrimental mental health.

The way that we manage how workers are getting on from a wellbeing perspective, both virtually and in the office. Tools like Zoom and virtual chats are now key tools for keeping employee morale up whilst also providing a platform where issues can be aired. 

  • Behavioural safety will be needed to influence the preventative transition efforts 

In addition to the added focus on mental health, another aspect that many practitioners now have to consider is the need for good behavioural safety management to help implement social distancing. Whereas before behavioural safety was often used as a tool to get workers to hold handrails, the same techniques are now being used to get people to avoid them.

One tactic that has been employed by some is recommending that employees cover the handrail rather than make contact. No matter how many compliance documents and signs are created, unless the behaviour of workers is correctly managed, these changes to health and safety will not be complied with. 

  • Managing health and safety at home is going to be high on the agenda 

One issue that many have struggled to deal with is how they manage their workers’ health and safety when the majority of the workforce is either furloughed or working from home. There is still a duty of care that must be met. 

One issue that some have found is the ergonomic set up of the desk workers are using when operating remotely. Poor posture and the potential for eye strains with poor lighting are very real threats to the health and safety of workers.

Whilst a short period of working in sub-optimal conditions may be considered an acceptable risk, as the period has gone on the risk for many health and safety professionals has become unacceptable. Scoliosis and RSI are both health conditions that can arise from poor ergonomics.

  • Employees are going to feel more empowered about their own health and safety 

Another trend that we have already seen emerge in many is the increased empowerment workers feel when returning to work. As many are increasingly concerned about their own health, we have now seen a trend of employees feeling more comfortable raising issues they have from a health and safety perspective. 

If an employee does not feel safe performing a task, whether it be due to potential virus exposure or another health and safety risk, we are likely to see an increasing trend of workers feeling more comfortable coming forward with their concerns due to increased empowerment. 

Other changes may be visible in the future 

The changes outlined in this article are trends we have noticed that are happening as we speak and may happen in the future. Future changes may make themselves apparent further down the line as organisations adapt how they manage employees to match the new normal. Because of this, it is becoming increasingly important to keep up to date with the latest information in health and safety

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