With the UK lockdown beginning to ease and more and more “non essential” businesses opening with more to come throughout the month of July, it is essential to understand how health and safety will change in a post COVID-19 world.

It is important to remember that health and safety rules and legislation will likely continue to change throughout the year as the UK Government continues to introduce and change rules to ensure the safety of the population and prevent a second spike in COVID-19 cases.

How has health and safety changed during COVID-19?

The current situation of the world has been discussed a lot in recent months by the majority of businesses, companies, governments and news stations but it is important to understand the current changes to health and safety before we look at further adaptations that could be made.

The most significant change revolves around the idea of social distancing. No matter where you go or what business you work in, observing social distancing where possible is essential and it is likely that this will be the case for the foreseeable future.

We have already seen a number of businesses, specifically shops and supermarkets using the one way system and 2 metre markers and PPE to ensure that social distancing rules are met, and these are likely to be implemented in a number of workplaces to ensure the safety of employees as well as customers.

How will health and safety continue to change?

As more businesses return to work there will be more changes as well as rules around social distancing. The main aspect of this is the role of employers in keeping workplaces safe.

There are only so many rules and regulations the government can place upon businesses and industries and it is now the role of employers to ensure that their businesses, employees and customers remain safe.

This may include implementing aspects such as:

  • Carrying out regular risk assessments not only on a premises but on employees should they begin to show symptoms
  • Developing sufficient hand washing and hygiene practices, such as implementing the need for gloves and face masks as well as daily waste removal
  • Managing the transmission risk when social distancing rules cannot apply. This involves keeping contact to a minimum, using back to back or side to side working and ensuring that the task is completed as quickly as possible.

Whilst these are some of the recommended measures there are additional steps that you, as an employer, could take to minimise the risk of infection in your workplace. This could involve agreements with employees about non essential visits outside of working hours.

However, should you decide to introduce your own, business specific rule it is essential to ensure that all employees are in agreement with what you are planning.

In some cases, employees may have to use public transport for their work, which can increase the risk of Coronavirus transmission. Should employees have to travel for work, whether this is for meetings or if you are a mobile business, there are some best practices you can follow to ensure the health and wellbeing of your customers and employees.

These include aspects such as regular hand washing and hygiene systems, sanitisation of any equipment used between travelling and sufficient social distancing measures when interacting with people face to face.

Ultimately, there is no definitive answer as to how health and safety will change in the coming months and whilst following the government’s advice today is always a necessity; this advice could change on a weekly basis depending on how the COVID-19 situation develops.

Author's Bio: 

Peter Watson, Director at Watson & Watson Health and Safety Consultants. Watson & Watson are experienced health and safety consultants, providing health, safety and risk management solutions throughout the UK.