On Monday 19th July, all remaining COVID restrictions were lifted in England. While many of us have been waiting for this day for some time, it doesn’t result in freedom from the virus. Employers need to remain cautious despite restrictions being lifted, as COVID-19 is still very much an unwelcome intrusion in our lives. Sensible precautions still need to be taken in order to protect ourselves and businesses from the transmission of the virus - as an outbreak of Coronavirus in the workplace or a large number of staff in self-isolation could cause a headache for employers. With COVID-19 cases rising, the weeks ahead still remain uncertain for businesses. However, the government believes it is time to plan a safe and gradual return to the workplace.
Back in January 2020, we first became aware of Coronavirus, but no one could foresee the scale of its impact. For businesses, the necessity to furlough workers, close workplaces or set up homeworkers, has been unprecedented and presented many challenges. Some businesses have thrived, some got by and others suffered catastrophic effects. Concerns for the Health and Safety of employees, including their mental health, has received a lot of attention, with government regulations and guidance produced as a result. Many forward thinking businesses have quickly realised that supporting their employees is the best way to navigate difficult times, which is easily forgotten in times of survival.
Getting back to a ‘new normal’
With the lifting of restrictions, comes hope for a brighter future. Businesses have faced a turbulent 16 months, with enforced government restrictions and continuous changes, making it almost impossible to forward plan or even keep business operations going. Businesses need to take a careful and considered approach to reopening their workplaces, as COVID is still a risk to employee health and safety. Many businesses are keen to welcome staff back to the workplace, which will be both popular and unpopular with employees, depending on their circumstances and viewpoints. Therefore supporting employees and communicating with them is more crucial than ever to help businesses reopen. Not only will employers need to manage COVID risks but they also need to remain compliant when it comes to Health & Safety.
Planning a full or partial reopening
Businesses have become well practised at remaining agile, as rules and guidance have frequently changed. Those planning to reopen, or bring back some or all of their workforce, will need to focus on their safe return, COVID-19 risks or otherwise. There’s guidance for reopening on the gov.uk website as well as the HSE website. Reviewing risk assessments, keeping up high levels of workplace hygiene, improving ventilation and ensuring staff members with symptoms stay home is going to be essential to ensure businesses can maintain operations and remain productive.
Returning to work training
Throughout the pandemic, here at iHASCO, we have been supporting our clients with their workplace compliance training. A return to the workplace means that staff may require refresher training in areas such as Fire Safety, DSE, First Aid and Infection Prevention to ensure an employer’s legal obligations are met.
Our Returning to Work Essentials training bundle allows staff to get back to work safely and with confidence. Pick and choose from a range of titles to suit your needs.
Our Mental Health and Soft Skills eLearning titles are the perfect addition to support your staff when it comes to their wellbeing and personal development, in areas such as building resilience, managing anxiety or time management.
You can get instant access to trial any of our courses that may be of interest to you.
We wish every business all the best for a safe and smooth reopening, whenever the time comes. Not sure where to start? Download our End of Covid restrictions - a health & safety checklist.