Covid 19 Pushing Health & Safety Hiring To Top Of Employers' Priority Lists
07 May 2020
With the stage set for companies to physically re-open over the next few months, health & safety for all employees is a concern and there has been a resulting spike in demand for health & safety professionals. We outline just some of the measures employers will have to take.
For many people, Health & Safety professionals are to some extent always thought of as essential hires for a limited number of sectors including manufacturing, pharmaceutical and construction sectors. The reality is that Health & Safety has a place in every organisation, whether it be part of a facilities manager’s remit or integrated into general office admin or a stand-alone role. With employees understandably anxious about their return to work after Covid-19, the issue of health & safety is not only at the front of their minds but also a key priority for employers.
Ordinary health & safety concerns around manufacturing and construction will continue as normal with a few necessary add-ons due to the pandemic. With construction companies scheduled to start back in late May, employers in that sector are keen to get additional Health & Safety professionals on board at all levels prior to starting work on construction sites. Manufacturing lines who have been closed during the pandemic are also anxious to get back working but there are various issues that must be considered. Some sectors will outsource their health & safety needs to third party consultants but with everyone looking for the same type of help and advice, it does mean that there will be a surge in demand for health & safety professionals.
For the manufacturing sector, it has been advised to stagger shifts where possible so the least amount of people are working together at any one time. Separate entrances and exits to plants are also advised as is setting up a one way route around the plant. Sanitising facilities (hand sanitisers / antibacterial wipes) should be set up not only at the entrances but also at strategic points in the facility. Most medical devices / pharmaceutical organisations have this as the norm but health & safety advice now is to have regular times to use it and to alert staff at these times. The use of keypads to get into particular areas of the building is also strongly advised against unless the employees are using single-use gloves which can be discarded immediately.
For those working on shared machines, eg plant machines or vehicles such as forklifts particularly in distribution, all machines should be cleaned after each shift. Delivery handlers and warehouse operatives should have hand sanitiser readily available and guidelines should be in place for them at every point in their delivery / handling journey. Where possible, only one person should handle deliveries / collections rather than two people.
Those in the FMCG sector as well as supermarkets and retail outlets who have been allowed to remain open during the health crisis are now all well versed in social distancing. They have put markers on the floors to clearly indicate social distancing guidelines and instigated a one way system. These measures will have to be put in place in the remainder of the retail outlets when they start to re-open.
Offices too will have to be mindful of health & safety concerns, not just on behalf of their customers but also on behalf of their own employees as they return to work. Like companies in the manufacturing sectors, allowing for separate entrances and exits where possible is highly recommended as are sanitising facilities at strategic spots around the building. Other recommendations include the following:
- Protective screens between desks where possible
- Hot-desking abolished or minimised with thorough cleaning at the end of each day
- Meetings still to take place virtually to minimise contact
- Limited use of shared office machinery such as printers / photocopiers although where possible sanitising facilities set up there.
- Temporary closure of canteens where possible and if not, then implementation of strict social distancing guidelines per groups of employees.
Health & Safety is now front and centre of every employer’s mindset and as a result health & safety roles are priority hires.
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