While there has been much excitement and anticipation regarding moving into Level 3, (big mac anyone?) -  for all businesses, Health & Safety remains a huge focus.   Everyone is keen to get back to ‘normal’ - but here are some things to keep in mind as we move ourselves and businesses forward from a Health and Safety perspective:

 

You Are Not Returning to Your Old Way of Working:

  • A mindset change will need to happen quickly, as this will be a completely new way of working for both the business and its employees.  

  • It’s advised that new policies be written up before the return to work and that changes are communicated to and acknowledged by employees (either through e-signing or acceptance via email).

  • Consider what needs to be done before returning – sterilizing surfaces, distancing work stations, PPE (gloves, masks and screens) AND more importantly put a safety plan together, so that employees know how to keep themselves safe from exposure to Covid-19.

  • Re-inductions (now this is a biggie)!! New ways of working means treating your staff like they are new to your business, and therefore inducting them will be key to ensuring the success of new policies and procedures. Examples of this could be looking at how they will enter the workplace daily – will you require temperature checks or medical questionnaires for them to complete?

 

Manage Exposure or Suspected Exposure to Covid-19:

  • This links back to my first point. Paul Jarvie, together with the EMA, presented a great webinar that emphasized how having a plan in place before the return to work is essential. Their advice covered the following -

  • Identify early signs and symptoms and know what actions to take. MOH advises that any person showing symptoms should be sent home immediately, and Healthline contacted in order to get the next steps.

  • Have a good reporting system where you are able to keep track of contact, both within your business and outside (i.e. Who’s on the premises? Where and when?)

  • Create ‘bubbles’ of teams within the workplace. By separating your employees into smaller teams, you reduce the risk.

  • FYI the definition of close contact is contact for 15 mins or more.

 

Re-Evaluate and Review

As with any new process, it’s going to be important that you are constantly reviewing and gaining feedback from employees, to determine if the new way of working is effective and still allows for productivity.

 

Mental Health

Yes, this has been a hot topic during Covid-19, but it remains vitally important to monitor. Checking in with your employees and ensuring that they are “okay” and coping, should not be overlooked in the effort to ensure that they are environmentally safe. These still remain unprecedented times and therefore the transition back to work may be difficult for some.

These are still crazy times, but despite the circumstances it’s evident more than ever that industries want to help each other, to share information and insights, so that New Zealand can tackle and win this battle together!

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