Workers are now starting to return to the office environment, rather than working remotely. Wall Street, for instance, has seen 61% of its employees return, according to Bloomberg. As workers return to the office, their safety will once again start to rely on the health & safety policy of a workplace – which may, after two years out, now be outdated. There are clear risks associated with a poorly maintained H&S policy, not least for the worker, but also for the financial health of the business.
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There are many risks involved when a business does not have an up-to-date H&S policy. While poor health is clearly not good for the individual themselves, it is also not good for the business; less staff means less productivity and less productivity means that the business will be making a loss. Investopedia estimates that this averages out at $3,600 per year per worker hour. Furthermore, if a team member is off sick and the H&S policy didn’t provide them cover, or hadn’t been followed, this may result in litigation or regulatory action. Litigation is an important part of the employer-employee relationship, as industry veterans Janet, Janet & Suggs notes, because it allows justice to be found and the proper settlement to be reached. However, it does represent a significant outlay for employers.
Assessing the policy
When re-assessing the policy, it’s vital to check that the work space is safe for use. Think about the basics – are there high-risk areas in your office for fires, slips, trips or falls? If so, have they been properly recognized? You also need to consider COVID cleaning. The level of hygiene required is higher than before, and that falls on the employer. Ensuring that work surfaces are clean and that staff have access to cleaning products, such as wipes and antibacterial gel, can help towards achieving a clean and compliant working environment.
Employers have always had to be mindful of their employee’s mental health; however, it’s arguably now more important than ever before. 20% of adults had mental health problems prior to COVID, according to Mental Health America, and the events of the last two years have exacerbated this. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that their staff have access to support services, especially whilst they are adjusting to returning to the office.
In the workplace employers have a big responsibility to look after their staff’s physical and mental wellbeing. How that protection is given has changed significantly. Review your policy now to avoid any bumps in the road further down the line.