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COVID-19: Supporting a safe return to work

British Safety Council

British Safety Council launches new COVID-19 Assurance Assessment Service to support the return to work

THE British Safety Council has recently launched a new COVID-19 Assurance Assessment Service to support organizations returning to work as the lockdown is relaxed.

The service, which is designed to ensure that employers manage the risk of transmission of COVID-19 as far as is possible within their workplace, covers: organizational context and stakeholder profile (risk management); operational processes (risk assessment, safe operating procedures etc); health and well-being; stakeholder engagement; and facilities and workplace health and safety (workplace adjustments etc).

Technical support includes: risk assessment reviews; support for workplace procedure development and reviews (including social distancing, health surveillance, workplace control measures, emergency planning, PPE etc); health and well-being guidance (including mental health factors); communication and information; leadership and behavioural factors; and assurance auditing.

The British Safety Council is offering workplace assurance audits to organizations that have remained open throughout the lockdown, those that have put new practices in place and those that are just getting back to work.

Once completed, the auditors will provide an Assurance Statement, summary report and recommendations for improved controls. This will provide health and safety managers and business leaders with external verification that they are taking the necessary measures to keep workers safe.

Mike Robinson, chief executive of the British Safety Council said: ‘As the lockdown eases and more and more people start returning to work, it is right that workers and employers want to have confidence that every possible step has been taken to keep workplaces safe.

‘We realize that many organizations are under extreme pressure to return to operational activity and looking for credible and reliable sources of support. From the start of this crisis our health and safety experts have been working with members and customers to ensure that they are fulfilling their duty – and their legal obligation – to control health and safety risks.

‘We have brought this work together as one comprehensive service for employers that so that they can assess the new risks posed by COVD-19 and put into place measures to make workplaces safe.

‘There is no doubt that this pandemic is going to have a profound effect on the way we work, but the principles of health and safety management remain as the same: there is a clear requirement on employers to put in place arrangements that control health and safety risks, and the approach is the same: plan, do, check, act.

‘The British Safety Council has been the first on the scene to advise on health and safety best practice as new technology, guidance and policy emerges for more than 60 years. In 2020 we are again stepping up in the face of a new health and safety challenge, ready to help our members and customers ensure that no one is made ill or injured through their work.’

The British Safety Council guidance for organizations planning the return to work covers risk assessment and new control measures, including social distancing, office cleaning and ventilation. Through sister charity Mates in Mind, auditors can also advise on the mental health and well-being of the workforce.

James Rudoni, managing director of Mates in Mind, said: ‘It’s quite right that health and safety managers are looking at their physical workplaces and taking steps to make workplaces compatible with social distancing. However, we will also be talking about the mental health and well-being of the workforce.

‘The last few months have been a source of stress and anxiety for all of us – it’s not simply a case of turning back the clock to pre-coronavirus days. Social distancing measures and challenging social and economic times are most likely here to stay.

‘Every organization will need their leadership to step up and embrace these new challenges: making workplaces safe and supporting the health and well-being of the workforce in these unprecedented times.’

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