COVID 19 and the Interaction with ISO 45001

The developing and ongoing Coronavirus pandemic is a worrying time of uncertainty and indeed a challenge for businesses and their workers.

Across the world business are taking the measures needed to try to contain the virus using various means. Social distancing, hand washing, personal hygiene and face coverings are all being encouraged in various different ways and formats.

Of course, one of the biggest changes has been the requirement for employees to work from home. This has seen a huge increase in businesses working in this style and format. Indeed, it’s an opportunity (despite very sad and difficult times) for businesses to consider if this is a logical and productive way to continue working.

The development of video calling applications such as “MS Teams” and “Zoom” has allowed industry to continue to operate whilst at the same time reducing the environmental impact associated with travel as well as reducing carbon omissions within cities.

ISO 45001 provides a framework for businesses and organisations to manage their risks. Many of the core principles of a good OH&S management system dovetail nicely to fit with the guidance provided for COVID 19. These include leadership and direction from director level, assessing the risk to both workers and visitors. You must also ensure that at all stages of your operational processes, workers from all levels of the business are consulted and communicated with to ensure that all views and opinions are considered.

Organisations and businesses should also consider:-

• The impact any changes may have on workers in response to COVID 19;

• Assisting the workforce in being able to meet and address the changes;

• Prioritising the needs and requirements and if necessary, adapt them to meet the workers requirements;

• Encourage the workforce to support each other and assist if some members of the team are struggling to adapt;

• Enabling workers to control the pace of work tasks;

• Providing additional social support through video conferencing social media groups phone calls and texts;

• Providing specific instructions and details on how to spot and identify additional risks.

Although these areas are very important when addressing physical needs, it’s also very important to address the psychological and mental needs as well.

We are by nature very different and what may seem to be a very simple change may prove very challenging for some members of the team. Peoples anxieties and concerns may not only relate to the workplace but also how they are feeling about themselves, their families and loved ones and the things that they see and hear.

Consulting with employees and workers is an important part of ISO 45001 and especially now more than ever in these difficult and strange times. The “New Normal” will ensure that we will probably not go back to things as they were before.

Psychological health is a complementary standard which is currently being looked at to sit alongside ISO 45001 to further assist and support management and workers at work. This will further help to provide support and guidance during these difficult times and ensure that all members of staff feel further supported.

Therefore, this is an opportunity which we should not miss to embrace the moment and ensure that our fellow workers and colleagues feel encouraged, helped and supported both by top management and their fellow workers to ensure that everyone remains healthy and safe at work.

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British Quality Foundation Chamber IAB