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IOSH responds to Prime Minister’s return to offices call

In response to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for people to return to offices, IOSH says that businesses around the world must make “informed risk-based decisions for themselves”.

The call was made by the PM in his speech at the Conservative Party Conference on Wednesday 6 October.

IOSH’s Head of Health and Safety Ruth Wilkinson said:  

“The transmission of Covid-19 within and getting to workplaces remains a real risk and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing and controlling risk factors within the workplace. So, rather than a blanket approach being taken for a return to offices, workplaces and to activities, the decision must be an informed risk-based one.

“There is evidence to show that remote working does reduce the spread of Covid-19. However, it isn’t all good news as not everyone is well set up to work at home, not everyone’s work can be undertaken at home, it can have a negative impact on some workers’ mental health and wellbeing, and so on.

“So, we recommend that, as they consider changes to operating models, and plan for a return, employers make informed risk-based decisions for themselves about what model best fits their business, risk profile, and that action is taken to prevent and manage risks (related to Covid-19 and other health, safety and wellbeing risks) and address opportunities to improve health and safety performance. Using robust risk assessments, being guided by advice from occupational safety and health professionals, using research and guidance, and feedback from employees themselves, will provide employers with the information they need.

“Some businesses of course have remained within their workplace, or have already successfully returned, while others have either implemented a hybrid model or are still operating remote working. As with other occupational safety and health risks, the situation can change so it is important that employers regularly review their decisions, risk assessments and control strategies and monitor their Covid arrangements and controls to ensure they are as effective as possible, based on any new learnings and, where necessary, they take action to amend these measures.

“We still can’t be sure of what will happen with the virus in the coming months, but employers and employees can play a crucial role in restricting its spread by implementing and following working safely guidelines and implementing good risk management and control measures.”

IOSH has a suite of resources designed to help with managing Covid-19 risks. They can be viewed here.

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Marcus Boocock
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