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HEALTH & SAFETY


BSC calls for Govt campaign urging employers to help combat new COVID variant


The necessity for suitably robust COVID- 19workplacemanagement arrangements has intensified since the highly transmissible newvariantwas identified lastmonth.


Whilemaking aworkplace COVID secure as far as is reasonably practicable is the legal responsibility of employers, some have struggled to implement appropriate measures to restrict the potential for occupational exposure to the virus. The evidence thatworkplaces are amajor venuewithinwhich people have the potential tomix, and so increase the potential to catch and transmit the virus, has become evermore prominent in themitigation process against the effects of the pandemic. However,whilst many organisations have embraced this increased responsibility, others have struggled with the changing nature of the situation, togetherwith the government guidelines, and the added expectations this brings.


The COVID pandemic health crisis is also a workplace health crisis and it requires decisive, consistent andwell-communicated action from all parties. Therefore, the British Safety Council is calling for a coherent Government health campaign that urges employers to improve workplace protection and engage their workersmore effectively to achieve better control in limiting the spread of the virus. For example, there is a significant vulnerability within buildings, as the virus can be passed between people breathing out asymptomatically and others breathing in the aerosol.


The Home Secretary yesterday urged people to ‘play your part’ and followCOVID rules to help reduce transmission of the COVID virus. However, the Government appears to be focusing primarily on enforcing the lockdown rules in general outdoor spaces like parks and


40 | February 2021 | www.draintraderltd.com


areas, suitably positioned desks, protective screens, good information and warning signage, staggered operating hours are all considerations for business within any sectorwhich canmake a significant impact on reducing the likelihood of exposure to the risk of virus transmission.


LawrenceWaterman, Chairman of the British Safety Council, commented,


"We are being told by experts thatwe are in the eye of the storm, andworkplaces


is not doing enough aroundworkplaces and the second variant. A greater focus on having well prepared and effectively implemented COVID-19management protocolswithin the workplace,which is aboutmakingwork environments as safe as possible for people, is farmore likely to reduce the spread of infection than concentrating on individualswho break lockdown rules.


Effective consultationwith staff, good wellbeing andmental health support mechanisms, remoteworkingwherever possible togetherwith premises controls such as one-waymovement flowaround the building,wearing of face-masks in common


seemto be at the centre of that eye. We should be discussing thismuchmore openly rather than taking our lead fromthe Government’s short termism, and then taking more and better action. It requiresmore public healthmessaging to restrictwork towhere it is really required, so thatmore people can remain in relative isolation, and better funding to help employers and employees to do this.


Itmay alsomean that collectivelywe should considermuchwider shiftworking, even half day,morning and afternoon, and improving community protection in everyworkplace, such as requiring thewearing of facemasks in indoorworkplaces.”


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