Workplace safety has always been a number one concern for many businesses, especially those who operate in industries where there is more likely to be a large number of hazards present, such as construction or manufacturing. But since the COVID-19 pandemic, workplace safety has become much more than simply trips, slips, falls and accidents with machinery. To improve the standards and management of the issue of safety in the workplace, employers must now also consider the risk of infection among employees, COVID-19 safety guidelines, and preventing ill health alongside normal health and safety processes.
Determining Additional Hazards
COVID-19 has brought about a number of further hazards to the workplace that may not have been viewed as such previously. For example, a certain number of people working in the same office may now be viewed as a hazard due to the fact that COVID-19 is more likely to spread among large gatherings. Desks that are situated close together, or situations where employees have no choice but to interact closely with colleagues or customers can turn hazardous due to the risk of COVID-19. While the COVID vaccine is helping things return to normal, it is likely to be a while before these new hazards disappear from our workplaces. The value of hazard signs to help employees adapt to the changes and recognize these new hazards in the workplace is extremely high; clear markings will ensure that it’s easier for employees to keep themselves and others safe.
Adjusting to Working from Home
In many industries, working from home is no longer something that is done just as part of a flexible schedule or for additional convenience. Pre-COVID-19, many businesses had never had employees work from home, while others may have only allowed for working from home in situations where the office was inhabitable or work could not be completed in the office, for example, due to internet connectivity issues. But today, working from home has become a key safety strategy used by businesses that can employ it in order to keep employees safe. In a post-COVID era, remote working is likely to be here to stay, and it’s important for employees to work this into their safety programs and provide further information to employees on how to stay safe when working from home.
Pre-COVID-19, many employers’ health and safety programs were mainly focused on physical health and the prevention of accidents that work that could lead to physical injury or bodily harm. After a year of lockdowns, financial uncertainty and working from home, this has led more employers to understand the impact that work can have on the mental health and wellbeing of employees, both in a positive and negative way. In a post-COVID-19 era, employees are now expecting more of their workplaces when it comes to supporting and protecting their mental health and wellbeing, just as much as physical safety. And since mental health problems can often lead to issues such as brain fog, forgetfulness, or fatigue, it makes sense to realize how the two are connected and how, by implementing strategies for better mental health at work, you can prevent physical accidents too.
COVID-19 caught many businesses off guard, and lots were completely unprepared for what to do in this type of situation. After a year of a world that has been impacted heavily by the pandemic, one of the best things that you can do for your business is ensure that your safety program includes strategies and steps to take in the event of another pandemic, as sadly, COVID-19 is unlikely to be the last one.
COVID-19 has made many changes to the world as we knew it. Among them are how businesses are approaching health and safety in the workplace.