As non-essential offices in Scotland are expected to be given the green light to re-open imminently, many are busy working hard to ensure their offices are up to the required safety standards.
The office or workplace being returned to will be starkly different to the one that was left back in March, with employers looking to ensure that they and their employees, contractors and visitors feel safe and have a protocol to follow whilst in the workplace. Employers must, by Law, make sure that they have taken all the reasonably practicable steps to ensure that work environments and related tasks are safe and mitigate risk for their workforce (Health and Safety at Work Act).
Employers are expected to achieve this by assessing hazards and risks, then providing appropriate control measures (Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations). At QHSE Aberdeen Limited, we have seen that the Health & Safety Executive are making no exceptions to these requirements when it comes to Covid-19.
It is so important that you, as an organisation, deal with the risks of coronavirus in the methodical manner that you would deal with any other risks to your business or people. Firstly, you will need to consider the potential harm to you, your business, your employees, your contractors and even your visitors. This could be the physical harm from contracting the virus, or the mental health harm caused through the stress of returning to the workplace after months of working from home or being on furlough. Then you will need to ensure the risks of these issues have been evaluated. What is the likelihood that employees, contractors and visitors will succumb to this harm and if they were to succumb, how severely would they be affected? Next the organisation should be considering how it can reduce either the harm or the risk. We have already seen these control measures implemented, across other sectors. We have seen that the checkout staff in our local supermarkets are now behind a perspex window, we follow the line markings as we walk round the store and we see that the tables in our favourite restaurants have now been moved further apart. However, though the control and risk mitigation measures in various premises may all be different, they have one thing in common; they are the output of a comprehensive Covid-19 Risk Assessment.
Simply installing glass shields at your reception and moving desks further apart within your office, is not enough. This is a holistic change to our working lives and undoubtedly this will affect different people in different ways. There is no one size fits all approach, as businesses are going to have to engage with their employees, contractors, and visitors as part of a process. Organisations must have conversations with their staff to make sure employees are comfortable with the new ways of working, remembering that some may struggle with the thought of returning to a new work environment. The new risks in the workplace and how the organisation intends to control them will also need to be communicated to the workforce. Contractors and visitors will need to know exactly what is expected of them when they are on site, and you will have to be aware of precisely what they expect of you and your organisation. These elements may have historically been communicated during your contractor/visitor induction processes, but even these processes may have to change. You may need to find new ways of getting information across to these people and making sure it is understood.
At QHSE Aberdeen Ltd we appreciate that the recent pandemic a is a new phenomenon, and this can be overwhelming for a lot of businesses. We have already worked with numerous businesses in Scotland to deliver a bespoke Covid-19 Risk Assessment and return to work action plan, we also provide a follow up assessment with a Certificate stating the premises and staff have been assessed and the advice given is correctly being followed. The feedback from these businesses in terms of the reassurance it gave their workforce / clients has been great to receive.
We know from our current clients that the Health & Safety Executive are actively checking businesses to ensure they have appropriately risk assessed and controlled Covid-19 threats and we want to make sure your organisations are prepared for that call or visit from the HSE. Don’t make the next newspaper headlines for all the wrong reasons!
More importantly, we want to help your business ensure that you, your employees, contractors, and your visitors are working safely, in a manner tailored specifically to your business’s requirements.
QHSE Aberdeen assist organisations of all sizes and sectors in all Quality, Health & Safety and Environmental matters from developing basic risk assessments & method statements to the full development, implementation and maintenance of Certified ISO Management Systems.
For our Customers, the key is to produce consistent, profitable, high quality results each time, operating as cost effectively as possible, without compromising safety, security, sustainability or compliance. An ISO Management System can help you do this and can simply be defined as the way the business is run by its managers.
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