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How line managers can ensure a safe return to work

The CEO of the Chartered Management Institute and the Head of Health and Safety for Co-op Group provided their insights in IOSH’s latest Covid-19 webinar offering, focusing on the role of line managers in occupational safety and health.

The webinar, hosted by IOSH Vice-President Tim Eldridge, also provided a preview of the findings of a survey which asked decision-makers how crucial line managers are in preventing workplace accidents and work-relayed ill health in their organisations.

Tim revealed that 96 per cent of respondents said that line managers are important in ensuring the people who report to them are safe and healthy at work.

“It is encouraging that there’s universal recognition among those surveyed that line managers are important in managing people safely at work,” he said.

These findings will be published in full in a report due to be launched by IOSH soon. It also looks at the importance of health and safety training for line managers and highlights that IOSH’s Managing Safely course is the most commonly used among respondents.

“IOSH strongly believes that the OSH competence of people managers is central to embedding a safe and health work culture,” added Tim. “It’s a vital investment and the quality of the training is paramount. It is three days out of a line manager’s work schedule that will save countless hours, costs and, more importantly, potentially the trauma of workplace injury, illness or fatalities further down the line.”

Tim introduced Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute, who spoke about her organisation’s own survey which, she said, shows that most managers accept their responsibility for health and safety.

She said that 70 per cent of their respondents said team members had expressed OSH-related concerns to them. These concerns include Covid-19 and childcare among other factors.

Looking at the impact of the pandemic and how organisations have had to adapt, Ann went on to say that allowing people to work from home was improving job satisfaction and wellbeing.

She concluded by saying that organisations which embrace the change can experience long-term competitive advantage.

Sue Turner-Tantush, Head of Health and Safety at Co-op Group, went onto look at how they have looked after their key workers in retail, logistics and funeral care as well as how they are seeking to reopen offices for other parts of their business.

She said they have to consider the impact the pandemic has had – and is having – on different employees.

Some are “frightened and stressed”, she said, while others are keen to get back to the office. The key is having a blended approach, something which the company’s CEO has backed.

You can watch the webinar ‘Covid-19: the role of line managers in returning safely’ here. Links to the recording, presentations and resources, as well as our previous and upcoming webinars, can be accessed here.

Our next webinar, ‘Covid-19: ensuring the safety and health of workers in travel and tourism’ is held from 12:30 (BST) this Thursday. You can register here.

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