Re-opening offices during unlock? Covid-19 protocol to ensure safety in workplaces

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Updated: Oct 22, 2020 12:56 PM

The framework aims to enable organisations to develop robust protocols and arrangements, designed to effectively manage the risk of COVID-19 as far as is reasonably possible within their workplace.

The growth in these spaces will be gradual and is gaining momentum slowly.

After months of a Covid-19 compelled lockdown, workplaces across the world are slowly opening their doors to employees. Nonetheless, with the health and wellbeing of staff and stakeholders as the primary concern, employers need to be armed with a comprehensive plan to identify and determine appropriate control measures.

The British Safety Council has developed a detailed Covid-19 framework applicable to all sectors. The framework aims to enable organisations to develop robust protocols and arrangements, designed to effectively manage the risk of COVID-19 as far as is reasonably possible within their workplace.

For Indian companies, the guidelines have been specially designed by taking into account the current best practices in occupational health and safety guidance issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the European Commission. These guidelines will be updated periodically as more information is developed by governments, NGOs, and professional establishments.

British Safety Council’s Covid-19 Assurance Assessment Service includes consolidated consultancy services to organisations across India looking for credible and reliable sources of support to return to operational activity. With their team of health, safety and environmental experts, British Safety Council provides technical consultancy in all elements within the guide.

The Covid-19 Assurance Assessment Framework is essentially based on the bulwark of a host of areas including assessing risks, planning control measures, allocation of roles and responsibilities, implementing, and maintaining controls, communication and training, monitoring effectiveness and reviewing and revising arrangements. Within these, the guidelines also specifically cover details on control measures including points like how to minimise the risk of transmission, total avoidance of personal contact, health control and surveillance, social distancing, personal hygiene, use of personal protective equipment, PPE, workplace cleaning and workplace ventilation.

The Council will also offer assessment services that focus on elements of business recovery and will support the stabilisation of business growth for organisations. They will provide professional support, guidance, and independent assurance to enable organisations to develop and implement suitable protocols and arrangements within the workplace. At a time when employees will have to get used to the new normal, organisations will benefit immensely through such strong technical support with the independent assurance that workplace safety, health and environmental arrangements are in accordance with current guidance and best practices as a minimum standard.

The Council will continue to offer support even amidst changing requirements and expectations of stakeholders in the face of revised guidelines depending on the status of the pandemic. The focus will be on ensuring that the workplace remains as safe and healthy as is reasonably practicable.

The Council’s team will offer technical support for areas like Risk assessment reviews, support for Workplace procedure development and reviews (including social distancing, health surveillance, workplace control measures, emergency planning, PPE, etc), Health and wellbeing guidance (including mental health factors), communication and information, leadership and behavioural factors and assurance auditing.

Speaking about the guidelines, Hemant Sethi, Country Manager – India, British Safety Council said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the biggest challenges that businesses and societies have faced. As restrictions are slowly easing, organisations are required to follow requisite guidelines as part of their return to work protocols and subsequent risk management of COVID-19. This may seem a little daunting which is why the British Safety Council has developed a detailed Covid-19 ‘return to work’ framework and an assurance assessment service. We are also ready to offer support to empower organisations to follow the protocols and decide to effectively manage and mitigate the risk of transmission.”

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