Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, workplaces have faced a number of changes. Many people have had extended time off work, returned intermittently to work, some have sadly lost jobs, and most people have been confined to the four walls of their home for longer than they would have liked. All of this has been massively different to what most people consider a normal working routine.
These are some of the more obvious results of COVID-19, but the pandemic has had a major impact on a number of other areas, including Health & Safety and HR.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the key areas of Health & Safety and HR throughout 2021 whilst also looking ahead to what awaits us in 2022.
It goes without saying that many employers have had to focus on infection prevention and control with an even higher priority than usual.
Infection Prevention dates back to 1850, where Louis Pasteur helped to prove that germs were the cause of disease. Since then, society has progressed remarkably in learning how to control these germs so that we’re better protected from diseases.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the simple measures (if followed routinely) can be some of the most effective when it comes to controlling the spread of COVID-19.
We’ve had to keep 2 metres apart, frequently wash our hands, and avoid contact with people where possible, amongst many other protective measures.
Whilst this has, and still is, continuing to cause problems for organisations, it’s solving bigger problems in the long run, hence the reason Infection Prevention and creating COVID secure workplaces has been at the top of the Health & Safety agenda over the last year.
Working From Home
Remote working had already been rising in popularity before any national lockdown, but when the government first advised the public to work from home where possible back in March 2020, many organisations were thrown into the deep end and had to adapt to remote working almost overnight.
At first, many companies showed reluctance towards this, but were simply given no choice when it was enforced. Many organisations have since successfully embraced remote working, with many reporting better productivity, wellbeing and reduced costs.
However, it’s important to remember that homeworking does come with its own Health & Safety risks and that as an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for people working at home as for any other worker. Just some of the risks with home working include:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Electrical equipment
- DSE & Posture
Many employers, as is their legal duty, have recognised these risks and taken appropriate measures to ensure their staff have a safe working environment outside of the workplace.
Returning to Work
Getting employees to return to work has been another huge task on the agenda for many organisations. Having to often shift from homeworking to a fixed place of work presents a number of issues and challenges. However, the most important thing for employers to consider when transitioning staff back into the workplace, is how to do it with safety as the number one priority.
Employers must consider physical factors that could pose a risk to both their employees and the public. This includes reducing contact between employees, identifying areas of poor ventilation, sourcing & enforcing PPE, and keeping the workplace clean.
However, there are also a number of psychological factors employers must consider, like whether employees will feel comfortable working on-site during the pandemic, how the pandemic has affected their mental health, and how to help employees to manage any anxious thoughts.
Most employers understand that their employees will have some concerns about returning to work, and many employers have pushed mental health and wellbeing up the agenda to ensure that these concerns are handled well upon returning to work.
In addition to this, employers have had to deal with mental health risks associated with working from home. The best thing an organisation can do is ensure that employees understand they can ask for help and know that they are not alone.
Since the start of the pandemic, common anxieties resulting from COVID-19 have included finances, isolation, and health, all of which have presented issues to the mental health of the public.
Homeworkers are more likely to feel isolated compared to those who are still in the workplace, and this can contribute to a lack of motivation and increased anxiety.
To tackle this, employers have ensured that they’re frequently catching up with homeworkers, ensuring line managers are in touch with their teams, providing their staff with mental health first aiders, and providing their staff with Mental Health & Wellbeing Training.
Read more about why mental health has stepped up the Health & Safety agenda here.
A summary of the key HSE statistics
Recently, the HSE published their annual report on workplace Health & Safety statistics, and we have seen some interesting changes throughout 2021. Some of the key statistics include:
- 142 fatal injuries (27.9% increase YoY)
- 441,000 non-fatal injuries (36.4% decrease YoY)
- 33% of non-fatal injuries were as a result of slips, trips, and falls (4% increase YoY)
- 1.7 million people are suffering from work-related ill-health (6.3% increase YoY)
- 451,000 people suffering from a new case of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety (30% increase YoY)
What to expect in 2022
Having come to the end of 2021, many of us are wondering what 2022 has in stock for us, and those working in Health & Safety and HR are likely asking themselves whether 2022 is going to prove to be another challenging year.
Unfortunately, we can’t predict the future… entirely. But we’ve taken the time to analyse Health & Safety and HR trends and keep up-to-date with industry news, which has given us a pretty good idea of what to expect this year...
Homeworking is here to stay
Many organisations will continue to work from home, with no intentions of returning to the workplace any time soon.
Where organisations were, in a sense, thrown in the deep end when it came to trialling homeworking for the first time, many were pleasantly surprised at just how productive their workforce was when away from the workplace. For this reason, many organisations see little value in returning to their old ways of working.
Read more here about why homeworking is here to stay for a while and learn more about how you can support your remote workforce with eLearning.
Mental Health & Wellbeing will move higher up the agenda
We’ve already seen Mental Health & Wellbeing rapidly move up the agenda of employers since the start of the pandemic. Most employers recognise that they have legal and moral duty to ensure the wellbeing of their employees is in their best interests.
With that said, it is becoming increasingly evident that it also makes sense for employers to take care of their employees’ mental wellbeing from a business perspective too. In fact, a study by Deloitte shows that for every £1 an organisation invests in it’s employees mental health, they can expect to see an average of a £5 return.
Employers must remember the essentials
This may not exactly be a trend, but it is certainly something that shouldn’t be forgotten in 2022.
Many employers are going to be busy in the New Year and throughout 2022, but this must not lead to employers neglecting some of their most essential duties.
Normally, this goes without saying. However, we understand that this is the busiest time of year for organisations without a pandemic to consider.
Fortunately, we’re here to help...
Sorting Health & Safety Training for the New Year
Here at iHASCO, we have been providing thousands of UK workplaces with high-quality eLearning for well over a decade, and we’re always keeping an eye out for ways in which we can help organisations work towards creating safer workplaces.
With over 140 courses in our library, including Health & Safety Training, HR Compliance Training, Business Compliance Training, and Soft Skills Training topics, we almost certainly have courses that your organisation would benefit from.
If you’re interested in seeing what we have to offer, fill out the form below and you can try any of our courses for free!