Well, maybe not normality, but to use an overused phrase, perhaps it is the ‘new normal’.
- Covid restrictions have relaxed gradually over the past month with the 1st of August marking a milestone in England at least.
As of this date, in England, the need to work from home is being relaxed. Tilhill, like so many companies, is taking a cautious approach to this. We have made our offices as Covid secure as we can following Government guidance. However, we are looking at proceeding with a phased return, constantly reviewing the effectiveness of our Covid plans and adapting where we consider there are gaps.
Scotland and Wales will follow on with relaxing working from home guidance in the coming months. The lessons we learn from the phased returning to more office work in England will be shared across all of our offices.
While some will be eager to return to their desk in the office, for others this will bring anxiety. We will be working with all our staff to ensure they have a say in their office arrangements and will be considering mental health aspects for all in planning our phased return. If you are reopening your workplaces or bringing more staff in, then involve them in the Covid plans so they can feel confident in them and work with individuals so they are comfortable about returning. Having smaller numbers at first and gradually building up is a great way to test your Covid Controls before implementing them fully.
August will also see the pausing of the requirement for shielding for the most vulnerable. These people must still be extra cautious and risk assessments and work patterns must respect this.
Covid is a reportable disease under RIDDOR and HSE has released some early figures. Between 10th April and 11th July, reported cases of Covid totalled 7971 where workplace exposure was deemed to be the likely cause. This included 119 deaths. As you will read later this is higher than the full year total workplace fatalities April 2019 – March 2020. This gives an indication of the extent of the issue in workplace exposures and why HSE has considered this a workplace risk. For an occupational exposure to be judged as the likely cause of the disease, it should be more likely than not that the person’s work was the source of exposure to Coronavirus as opposed to general societal exposure. Such cases may not be easy to identify when COVID-19 is prevalent in the general population.