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Consultation and consensus essential for a safe return to work – Bureau Veritas

As the UK government unveils new guidelines for making workplaces Covid-secure, global health and safety expert Bureau Veritas is advising businesses that their safe return to work depends on their ability to “win the hearts and minds” of employees alongside creating clear policy, systems and processes with regular monitoring.

Last week, the government published guidance for employers to help them get their businesses back in operation, and workplaces operating safely, following almost two months of coronavirus restrictions. The new guidance covers eight workplace settings that are allowed to be open, including factories and construction sites.

With many businesses facing the daunting challenge of implementing the guidelines, Bureau Veritas, which has been working with a number of sectors to help them safely resume operations, believes that those firms that work collaboratively with their workforce to introduce new ways of working are likely to fair better.

Ken Smith, Bureau Veritas UK chief executive, said: “For almost all British businesses, introducing the appropriate health, safety and hygiene measures required to make workplaces Covid-secure as per the new government guidelines will require a complete overhaul of their current operations. It’s a mammoth undertaking which will only be successful if employers win the hearts and minds of employees to ensure they are empowered and committed – and must be underpinned by clear policy, systems and processes with regular monitoring. To achieve this, businesses are advised to introduce measures in consultation and consensus with staff, have regular communication and active engagement on whether these are effective as well as creating a system that encourages staff to come forward and voice concerns if at any point they feel unsafe at work.”

Other challenges employers should consider, says the company – which recently launched its “Restart Your Business” assurance service to help firms manage their return to work strategies – includes how the government’s advice to avoid using public transport will affect employees as well as having a better understanding of the movement of people around business premises.

“Taking the time to understand the occupational use of buildings – logistics, deliveries, how lifts are used, desks are spaced and the hygiene of frequently used touchpoints – will stand duty holders in good stead for resuming operations. Given the size and complexity of making workplaces safe against the threat of coronavirus transmission, a nuanced approach that truly reflects best practice could ultimately help to save lives,” said Smith.

The Restart Your Business With Bureau Veritas service provides a voluntary, independent assessment of a firm’s Covid-19 readiness to reopen its business premises, with a statement of assurance issued on completion that can be displayed on its website and at its properties. To find out more about Restart Your Business With Bureau Veritas, call 0345 600 1828. You can download a free “Restart your business” pack here: https://share.hsforms.com/1tTRe4h7IQZOBHtRBmdDDfg2z02a.