Health & safety

to enable this at the outset, it will be challenging. Another serious issue resulting from

the national and international restrictions implemented during the pandemic is the impact on mental health for employees. Staff have been particularly impacted as a result of social isolation, being unable to work or losing employment and a lack of purpose when being on furlough or shielding. It is a widely discussed subject

at present and comes with many implications, even more so as restrictions begin to ease, which leaves many people fearful and anxious with the prospect of returning to populated offices and having to travel on public transport to, from and between workplaces. Mental health has been high on the

agenda for some time and it is clearly something that will have to be managed very carefully over the coming months, as there is a slow return to a form of what will be considered by many as normality. All in all, organisations will need to

effectively debrief on what has been experienced so far and ensure that they have suitable and sufficient safe working practices in place for their employees, as well as appropriate protocols to create a balance of continued safety and people’s right to choose, even where that choice could carry an element of risk. Being a member of the National

Association for Safety and Health in Care Services (NASHiCS), I have been able to share - through the NASHiCS fortnightly Conversation and Catch Up online forum - with colleagues across the country.

This provides both general and sector specific information, giving additional support to colleagues who are often the only health & safety resource available within their organisation, who without this forum would have limited access to opportunities to debrief and obtain professional advice.

Conclusion Possibly the biggest challenge right now is managing the fear and anxiety that will inevitably come as restrictions are eased and social contact both inside and outside organisations returns. Despite this, the key ingredients to a

successful return to normality is vigilance and preparedness, which will form the greater part of any new legislation that may potentially emerge as a result of this pandemic so far.

Brett Edwards TCHE

Brett Edwards is health & safety director of Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution Care Company (RMBI Care Co.) and a member of the national executive team at National Association for Safety and Health in Care Services (NASHiCS). Brett has over 15 years of experience in leadership, starting within a management role having attained both the IOSH Managing Safely and NEBOSH General Certificate, supported by a wealth of management experience in a number of different customer-facing environments and continued professional development. At RMBI Care Co., Brett supports the strategic delivery of health and safety across the organisation. He also supports his peers within other organisations through NASHiCS, which gives a supporting platform to those with responsibilities within care services across the UK.

June 2021 • 37

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