—By Mark Philpott, CEO at NPH group—
As we come out of the winter months the UK Government has announced the end of all restrictions being enforced due to Covid-19. From a public health education and analytics perspective, this marks the beginning of what the government hopes will be the end of the pandemic in the coming weeks and months, but uncertainty remains.
The focus is now on individuals and businesses to reduce the cost of testing for the taxpayer and to promote “common sense” when dealing with infections at home and in the workplace.
Relaxing controls alongside learning to live with Covid-19 is now a personal and business challenge. As self-isolation periods end, we are likely to see a rise in presenteeism (people going to work with a confirmed illness) and an increase in workplace infections.
The question is what impact this will have on the workplace and how employers will control infection and production and manage their responsibilities to vulnerable workers.
Demand for occupational health advice and guidance was greater, with demand for health surveillance, including Covid-19 screening and absenteeism management, central to business policies to support productivity.
Testing was a tool in the armory in the fight against Covid-19, but it has never been the only solution to contain the spread of the disease in society, at home and at work. A large part of this would be due to vaccinations, which have proven to be extremely effective against the current variants.
But even vaccinations are not a panacea for all Covid-19 diseases and new variants remain a real and current threat. Until we have a vaccine that protects against all current and future forms of Covid-19, there will always be a real and present threat to more vulnerable people from existing and new variants in society and in the workplace. What matters now is how companies and individuals effectively manage risk.
What does this mean for companies?
There are many comments about treating Covid-19, how we treat the common cold. Adopt universal health, well-being and disease policies that reduce the risk of transmission in the workplace and reduce the likelihood of a critical mass of employees being unemployed at the same time. Their impact can be felt on productivity, performance, and the success or failure of a business.
Can’t we just treat Covid-19 like a cold?
The common cold is part of the Covid family of diseases, but what is different is the novel nature of the disease, the propensity to evolve into new variants, the unpredictability of these variants on personal health, and the random but significantly higher risk of mortality. The truth is that we do not know how the pandemic will develop and there is no guarantee that future variants will not be more virulent, so we must have the means to investigate and monitor situations that are considered riskier or greatest business impact.
It will be some time, possibly years, before the pandemic becomes as big a threat to society and businesses as the common cold.
In order for Covid-19 to become a new and manageable norm with minimal adverse health impact, the world population needs to be protected in a number of ways, which means keeping everyone vaccinated and maintaining methods and policies to reduce the impact of Covid infection in the workplace to limit. using locally recognized testing, monitoring, isolation and return to work guidance. This is no easy task.
Occupational health consultants cannot dictate what a company should do, but the profession can work with companies to understand their risks and help undertake surveillance and monitoring and make recommendations on individual adjustments for those post-acute infection and / or return to work of a protracted impact Covid19.
A big part of making your employees feel comfortable returning to the workplace will be a robust testing strategy – especially if they or their loved ones are at risk. Within the NPH Group We have developed integrated technology to closely monitor and manage outcomes and isolation times, which has already been proven effective in our workplace and will also be used by our clients such as Virgin Voyages.
So what do we need to do differently to future-proof our workplace? Not all interventions need be expensive or a significant investment, most can actually increase employee productivity and psychological safety in the workplace and provide a return on investment. Those who feel looked after are committed to the company’s goals.
More and more people are willing to get involved and engage in discussions about their personal health and well-being. More people are now talking about mental health in the workplace; “A problem shared is a problem halved” and people realize that those closest to them at work can often have the greatest impact on personal decisions, changes, emotions and feelings.
Fostering a culture of health promotion and inclusion brings real issues to the fore that can be understood and embraced. In that sense, Covid-19 could be a stepping stone to future business success.
Among the many other measures that can be taken in the workplace to prevent the spread of infection and hospitalization of vulnerable individuals, testing, management and monitoring of disease prevalence must be a good starting point and can become the cornerstone of the data that can inform discussions about health, well-being and disease policy in the workplace.
https://techround.co.uk/business/covid-restrictions-ending-workplaces/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=covid-restrictions-ending-workplaces End of Covid restrictions: What’s next for jobs?