The future of the workplace: How will workplace health & safety requirements change post COVID-19? | Part II

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In part two of our future of work series, Lander & Rogers' Workplace Relations & Safety experts focus on policy and procedural recommendations for work health and safety.

The future of the workplace Part II: How will workplace health & safety requirements change post COVID-19

The enormity of the effect of COVID-19 on the workplace has demonstrated that work, health and safety measures in place prior to the pandemic were in many cases inadequate preparation for an infectious disease outbreak. As a result, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is aiming to recommend changes to work health and safety measures moving forward.

Using COVID-19 as an example, the ILO has devised short, medium and long-term measures to help workplaces recover from the pandemic, and to be prepared for similar outbreaks in the future. Companies are encouraged to have in place a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan which specifically deals with large-scale health crises and pandemics. The plan should stimulate quick, coordinated and effective measures which can be adapted swiftly in the workplace in response to an emergency. The ILO includes example measures to be implemented such as training and information, protective clothing and equipment.

Additionally, the ILO calls for businesses to consider formulating a "business continuity plan" with the assistance of their workers. This plan will help to identify any specific risks to individual businesses in the time of a crisis, and to construct strategies to help reduce their impact. The plan may recommend social distancing, implementing shift work for employees, and integrating remote communication technologies more frequently. Businesses should also have a plan for employee wellness / mental health and social consequences that may affect employees during a pandemic.

On their return to the workplace, businesses should also create an action list for the prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 at work. This includes physical distancing, increased provision of hygiene products, cleaning of desks and common areas, and training on the new measures.

Read other insights in our future of the workplace series:

Our team is actively monitoring and considering the implications of legal and regulatory developments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find our COVID-19 collection here.

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