Many firms are asking staff to return to work in the office. We are no longer required to self-isolate with Covid and there is no obligation for staff to tell employers if they test positive. So what does this mean for workplace safety in 2022?
Many employers are experiencing an increased expectation from their workforce to keep staff safe and well.
Employers should continue to prioritise infection prevention and control, where possible increasing ventilation, reducing contact between employees and keeping the workplace clean.
Remote working obligations
Now that businesses of all types have adapted to remote working, many have embraced it. Some have even altered recruitment policies to widen the pool of talent and actively recruited people on remote-working contracts.
In the rush to shift to remote working in 2020, a large number of employers may not have taken the time to complete home-based working risk assessments.
Now that remote working is here to stay, it is important that risk managers take seriously the health and safety responsibilities of people working at home. From electrical equipment to posture, employers have a legal duty to take appropriate measures to ensure their staff have a safe working environment outside of the workplace.
Employers across the country are placing mental health and wellbeing high up on their agenda, offering training to line managers and appointing roles such as a mental health first aider.
In 2021, The Health & Safety Executive’s annual report on workplace health and safety statistics, showed 451,000 people suffering from a new case of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety. That was a 30% year-on-year increase and we expect that figure to rise again.
Some employees will not feel comfortable returning to pre-pandemic working patterns. They may need help managing a phased return to the workplace, along with psychological support around coping with anxious thoughts.
For others, the last two years working from home may have taken a toll on their mental health. Employees working from home are more likely to feel isolated compared to those in a workplace, sometimes resulting in anxiety, depression and a significant lack of motivation. Employers should be reassuring employees that they can ask for help and receive support if they need it.
Disputes linked to safety concerns
Risk managers need to be aware of the potential for unrelated disputes to play out in a workplace safety context. An employee with a grievance about terms of employment, a flexible working request or even a performance-related issue, could latch onto workplace safety as a justification for a certain course of action.
It is more important than ever for risk managers to work in partnership with Human Resources departments as well as individual line managers, ensuring processes are well-documented and paper trail management is scrupulous.
Now is a great time to ensure your insurance policies cover you for all the risks to which you may be exposed. To discuss any aspect of your company’s insurance policy portfolio, get in touch.