Health & safety

social contact through safe meeting spaces and the use of technology.

Health & safety during a pandemic Health & safety is often determined as prescriptive with little room for manoeuvre when it comes to protecting the safety of people but this is not always the case and the pandemic has made this much more evident, due to its varied impacts on peoples mental and physical health and wellbeing. As seen with the guidance issued

by the government and the journey that we have all experienced through the various restrictions that have been imposed, removed and re-imposed, this has been an ever-changing landscape. The government has had to adapt its approach to ensure, not only the safety of the population but also the integral working parts of the economy, continually adjusting its approach to keep the balance of everyday life and risk as equal as possible. One thing that the pandemic

has exposed is the world’s lack of preparedness to deal with such a rapid viral outbreak and although the response was, in general very strong, it was also very reactive. While it would be very easy to point the finger of blame at the government and health bodies, it is clear that organisations were equally unprepared. PPE featured heavily in the national

and international media due to the sudden surge in demand and the lack of availability. This was true throughout the NHS and the social care sector, made all the more challenging by the increased price of essential items such as appropriate protective masks, gloves, visors, aprons and other PPE in response to increases in demand.

Avoiding a repeat This was further complicated by restrictions imposed on freight movement, the sale of fake copies and the initial lack of clarity around what types and grades of PPE were considered optimum in supporting all safety measures. Health & safety legislation, makes it

clear that organisations are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of everyone who comes in to contact with them. Pandemics are not an exception to this and it is now very clear that correct and timely planning for such events was woefully inadequate and, in many cases, non-existent. What does that mean for the care

sector in terms of potential changes to ensure that this is not repeated? Could there be changes to legislation as a result of the pandemic response? Reading between the lines and observing the increased activity of regulators and enforcement agencies, it is very likely and arguably essential that organisations will be required to evidence

Reading between the lines and observing the increased activity of regulators and enforcement agencies, it is very likely and arguably essential that organisations will be required to evidence adequate business contingency and continuity plans


adequate business contingency and continuity plans, in much the same way as they are expected to evidence quality systems to show that the management processes are adequate. Emerging from the first year of the pandemic, organisations will likely need to reflect on lessons learned and ensure that adequate protocols are in place to mitigate against the potential re- emergence of Covid-19, or indeed any future pandemic. Additionally, the face of working life

has changed dramatically, with many employees working from home on what was, in the beginning, considered to be a temporary measure, with organisations now focussing on flexible working models. This could see a large shift in the focus of within the workplace, possibly generating some changes to legislation to strengthen employees’ safety expectations; even within their own private dwellings. Where organisations decide to

introduce a hybrid approach to working life, it is possible that some workplace legislation in terms of will be further or more robustly applied where employees have chosen or are expected to work from home and this is something that businesses will need to start preparing for immediately. This, however, is not new and many

organisations have already adapted strong policies and procedures for home working through risk assessment. Unfortunately for a number of organisations, who until now have not experienced this approach and do not have the infrastructure in place to provide the necessary training and equipment • June 2021

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