As organisations attempt to return to normal operations following months of lockdown measures due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are new factors that must be considered in order to protect workers.
Social distancing continues to be a key component of minimising risks related to the spread of germs. As such, organisations should implement the following precautions:
Given the ongoing threat that the coronavirus pandemic poses, it is important that workers understand how personal protective equipment (PPE) and the threat of COVID-19 relate.
In general, organisations and workers should be aware that layering on additional PPE beyond what a worker would normally use is not beneficial in combatting the risk of COVID-19 transmission. That being said, additional PPE may be advisable in certain situations, such as in clinical settings like hospitals.
There may also be circumstances in which the use of face coverings can reduce risk. Face coverings can lessen the chance of an infected worker spreading germs to colleagues and may be particularly useful for those who must work in close proximity. Employees should be instructed to avoid touching their coverings, to wash or sanitise their hands before and after using them, and to wash or dispose of masks after use.
It is important that organisations assess each worksite and situation on a case-by-case basis. In the event that a risk assessment shows a need for additional PPE, organisations are required to provide it free of charge.
In addition to risks and hazards that may cause physical harm, organisations should also prioritise the mental health of workers.
According to estimates, there are approximately 16,000 work related cases of stress, depression or anxiety each year among construction workers. This represents approximately 25% of all ill health in the industry.