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SOM launches safer workplaces toolkit

10 June 2020

THE SOCIETY of Occupational Medicine (SOM) has launched a returning to the workplace after the COVID-19 lockdown toolkit designed to help employers and occupational health professionals get the nation back to work, safely.

The toolkit, free to download from the SOM website, has been developed with help from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Business in the Community (BITC), and Mind, the mental health charity.

Dr Will Ponsonby, President of SOM, said: “Our toolkit supports the directions and advice from the UK Government, the Health and Safety Executive, and Public Health England. It provides advice, guidance and links to other resources that will help employers manage risks in reopening workplaces, and help them understand and conform to their legal obligations. Following the toolkit’s guidance will ensure workers feel confident to go back to work safely.”

Peter Cheese, CEO CIPD, said: “We have to plan ahead for what is likely to be a staged return to work over what could be prolonged periods. Employers need to be clear about the principles of how we do this well. Central to those principles should be how we take care of our people, and support their wellbeing wherever they are working, including concerns or anxiety about their safety in workplaces or getting to work. The toolkit from SOM will help employers put into place systems that will allay those fears.”

Amanda Mackenzie, CEO BITC, said: “We want people coming back to work motivated to build back better. Companies must realise that COVID is not a great leveller. Some groups require more support than others. As responsible businesses, we must step up and meet this new challenge with our eyes open, which this toolkit will help people do.”

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said: “The coronavirus outbreak has caused large and sudden changes to the way we work, with businesses and employees forced to adapt quickly. Adjustments can present challenges, including to the mental health and wellbeing of the UK workforce. As lockdown measures begin to lift, staff will be looking to their employers to provide guidance during these uncertain times. Many employers are having to make tough decisions and plan for lots of different outcomes. We hope this Returning to the workplace toolkit will be a useful resource in helping ease the transition and make sure staff coming back to the workplace are reassured that their safety and wellbeing are a priority.”

Susan Clews, Chief Executive Acas, said: “The Covid19 outbreak has been an incredibly challenging time for workplaces. We know that businesses and workers are looking for some practical tips on how to get back to work safely.

“It is clear that real engagement and dialogue with employees is crucial to organisations adapting successfully, which is why Acas is pleased to support this new advice from the Society of Occupational Medicine and partners. It accompanies existing guidance from the Government and Health and Safety Executive which aims to address the very real concerns people have on managing the safety risks on returning to work post lockdown.” 

SOM understands that for most businesses, helping workers return safely and productively will be a considerable challenge. Its advice is for businesses to plan for any return, and any plans should have the agreement of managers, human resource professionals, the workers themselves and the unions that represent them.

The complexity of any return to work plan will reflect the size of the organisation and the SOM toolkit includes step-by-step advice on how to do this. It also includes advice for occupational health professionals advising businesses.

The toolkit is available to download from https://www.som.org.uk/return-to-work/