The 5 things businesses should do to safeguard employee health
As businesses prepare to return to working in large scale offices and face to face meetings they need to fully consider the health and safety of their workforce. It is more important than ever to have a responsible testing procedure in place to predict and respond immediately to the changing landscape.
Simon Checkley, CEO, The Regenerative Clinic, says; “There is much to be optimistic about in the coming months, but businesses should be realistic that risks still remain. There is a balance to be made in re-activating your teams, having face to face to meetings, and in returning to the social working norms that are so productive and often enjoyable for staff. Businesses also have a responsibility to protect employee health and ensure that their teams are properly defended against exposure to the Covid19 virus.”
As offices begin to welcome workers back, and as those workers increasingly connect both in and out of the workplace, outbreaks of the Covid19 virus may still emerge in clusters. Employers should plan to limit the impact of these outbreaks by operating a responsible testing procedure.
The most important 5 steps for returning safely to work in spring 2021 include;
Responsible testing procedure
Although the NHS testing provision is now excellent for people with symptoms, or exposure to the Covid19 virus, your employees who display no symptoms may not be eligible for Covid19 testing.
A responsible testing procedure within your organisation will ensure that you are in control of any spread and give you the confidence and data to operate a Covid19-free workplace. It also shows a responsible attitude to your employees and communicates your care for their health.
You should only use approved tests with results interpreted and acted on in line with government guidance. You can test employees for presence of the virus prior to re-entering the workplace as part of an ongoing programme to detect and respond to cases and minimise transmission.
Depending on your business there may be a requirement for international travel to carry out tasks which are deemed to be essential. Currently travel is not generally permitted. However, where there are essential reasons for travel then staff may be allowed and may need a ‘Fit to fly’ certification. If your destination requests a Fit to fly certification then this requires a medical consultation and Covid19 test before you can fly. Other destinations may require a negative Covid19 PCR swab test taken 24-48 hours before departure. If an employee is traveling on behalf of your business then you should organise this for them.
Visitors to your workplace
If you are welcoming visitors into your workplace then you should ensure that following strict government guidance on mask wearing and social distancing is adhered to. This is both for the visitor and your employee. You may use questionnaires asking visitors to state any contact or symptoms that they have had. It is well recognised now that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread are drivers Covid19. Businesses should consider using private testing that follows government guidelines and also the NHS track and trace app.
At this time there is no advice from the government giving special provision to those who have had the Covid19 vaccine.
- Government guidance
The government continually updates guidelines for “covid-safe workplaces”. You should ensure that someone at your workplace is regularly checking any government updates to be sure that you continue to comply from a legislative standpoint. The government breaks down its guidance into specific sector types so that you can better understand the issues that might affect your business particularly. For more specific advice please visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19
- Internal communications
Every business if going to have a view on what is right for them culturally. Some businesses will return to work flexibly giving their people the opportunity to work from home on a more permanent basis. But that is not right for every company. There are tangible issues around production and manufacture to consider, plus the loneliness of remote working is also not productive for all workers.
Looking after your staff’s general wellbeing and keeping in touch with staff is very important. You should show concern for their physical and mental wellbeing whether they are in the office or working remotely. Facilitate a culture of holistic care by encouraging them to take time away from their desks, create walking meetings, and encouraging physical activity, and a good diet.
Employers should also consider giving employees enough space at work to socially distance themselves from each other.
An open dialogue with employees is crucial to making all team members feel safe and well looked after as we transition into the next phase of our new ways of working. In all likelihood the need for testing and flexibility will continue in some version for the next 12 months at least.
The Regenerative Clinic, Europe’s largest centre for regenerative medicine based in London’s Harley Street Medical Area, has its own Covid-19 testing facility with a 24 hour on-site laboratory. It also has a standalone clinic in Manchester Piccadilly.
Further information for employees and employers can be found at https://www.theregenerativeclinic.co.uk/