COVID-19 has impacted the working world in many long-lasting ways. Health and safety in the workplace should be the central focus of every working environment during and after this pandemic.
Here, we will explore 7 ways in which COVID-19 has affected health and safety practices in the workplace.
1. Worker Health and Policies Related to It
Worker health and the health of their families is now a central consideration for every policy implementation or change. Policy changes should be informed by the risk level of the workspace.
Now, managers need to conduct risk assessments to determine if the working environment is low, medium, or high risk. The WHO lays out the guidelines on how to do this on their website.
It is also important to consider individual employee risk levels in the assessment. High-risk individuals will require different arrangements and leniencies than individuals at low risk.
2. Health and Safety Standards
Health and safety standards need to be emphasised and monitored continuously.
New practices to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace include:
- Frequent hand washing or disinfection with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
- Respiratory hygiene e.g. covering a cough with your arm
- Physical distancing of at least 1 metre
- Masks if distancing is not an option
- Regular cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces
- Reduced travel for work, wherever possible.
3. Increased Awareness and Preparedness
Every workplace has to have an action plan in place to prevent or respond to a positive case of COVID-19. The action plan will vary according to the workspace risk level.
Businesses need to continuously monitor all preventive measures in terms of their effectiveness in mitigating the spread. They also need to monitor and enforce the health and safety compliance of every person entering the space.
4. Implementation of Workplace Rules and Policies
These changes depend on the risk assessment level of the place of work. All individuals have to comply with any new rules or policies implemented in response to COVID-19. There should be disciplinary measures in place for any non-compliance.
5. Cleaning Investments
Workspaces need to be disinfected more regularly and thoroughly in the time of COVID-19. A part of the budget should be set aside for these essential cleaning investments.
This type of investment isn't only needed, but necessary in order to ensure a sanitary work environment that lowers the risk of the virus potentially spreading.
6. Need for Anonymised Reporting Systems
Organisations should provide their employees with an anonymous platform on which they can identify challenges and solutions pertaining to COVID-19 workplace safety.
This will also provide employees with a platform on which to report any non-complying colleagues endangering those around them. Anonymised reporting is important as people may fear receiving backlash from reporting a colleague.
7. Higher Need for Daily Audits, Inspections, and Control of Facility Hygiene
With all these new changes, it is important to monitor their effectiveness and work to improve them where necessary. This will require daily health and safety audits and hygiene inspections.
Health and safety in the workplace in the time of COVID-19 needs to be a collective, collaborative effort. To ensure compliance, it is crucial to have a good incident reporting platform in place. This will help you to resolve any non-compliance or safety issues in a timely manner.
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