With lockdown 2.0 well underway, the now-familiar guidelines of working from home if you can, are in full force. But not everyone can work from home. There are workforces across the UK that need to be out doing their jobs, whether they are working in the NHS, in construction, or renewable energy, for example.
If you are managing a workforce who cannot work from home, it is essential that you do what you can to ensure that they are as safe as possible – protected from COVID-19 and the consequences of COVID, but also ensuring that they are protected from non-COVID risks as they always should have been.
Brush up on your Health and Safety
Before you even begin to worry about COVID-19 risks, it is important that your workforce is as protected from the usual risks in the same way as ever. This could cover everything from the propping open of fire doors to how you store chemicals to allocating fire wardens.
It can help that you brush up on your health and safety knowledge regularly to ensure that you are following all the right rules and that your workforce is protected.
According to ACT Associates, experts in health and safety, “Proper training in health and safety, and training people to be competent in health and safety within your organisation, can help to reduce the risks associated with your workplace, reduce accidents and reduce unnecessary time off work.”
Just because you might be bringing in new coronavirus regulations at work, doesn’t mean that you can forget about the other risks that can occur – and forget about your other health and safety responsibilities.
Follow the Government Guidelines
The government has set out guidelines to ensure that workplaces are COVID-secure. Of course, every workplace is different, but you should try to allow for social distancing as much as possible, the regular washing of hands, and make sure that adequate PPE is used by staff. Some workplaces, for example, supply hand sanitiser and face masks to their staff whilst they are at work.
There are more details about how to make your workplace COVID-secure on the HSE website. These measures could include the spacing out of work areas, ensuring that the places that are frequently touched by staff are regularly cleaned with the correct products, and issuing each member of staff with their own mugs and crockery, for example.
Check-in on their Mental Health
The coronavirus in general has put us all in a stressful situation, but this has been especially prevalent for workers who cannot stay at home and are expected to still go into work.
Stress can manifest itself in many different ways, both mentally and physically within the human body and it is important that we all try to look after each other – especially during this period. Check-in regularly with your staff and try to get them to talk about any concerns that they might have.
You could consider making mental health services available to your workforce in case they need someone to talk to or implementing a ‘buddy’ system whereby members of staff are paired together and look out for each other. You could provide information to your staff about how to look after their mental health and help them to protect themselves from the inevitable stresses that doing their job during lockdown can bring.
Look after your Vulnerable Staff
We all know that certain people are more likely to suffer more if they contract coronavirus – those with certain illnesses or over a certain age, for example. We saw in the last lockdown that many of them were asked to shield, but this has not been the case this time. If you have people who are in the vulnerable category regarding coronavirus in your workforce, you could think about trying to adapt their role in some way to allow them to work from home, or at least in an environment where they are less at risk.
Of course, this will not always be possible, for every member of staff, but it could make a huge difference to those who you can help.
At a time when caring for each other is at the forefront of our minds, it is vital that businesses and managers do what they can to look after their workforce, protect them, and help us all to get through the global pandemic together. By looking after your workforce you will not only ensure that they are kept as healthy as possible, cutting down on sick days (and the possibility of huge numbers of people being off at the same time) but also feed their respect for you and your business.