Whether your employees are working from home or back in the workplace, employers have a duty of care to their employees to safeguard their health and wellbeing. It's vital then that they understand their employees' needs and fears and create a safe working environment – both physically and mentally, regardless of whether you're a small business owner or run a large corporation.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to ensure that the health, safety, and welfare of your workforce is your top priority. You should take the time to conduct a full risk assessment of the area your employees work in order to identify potential hazards. This duty is not restricted to the workplace. If your workforce is working from home, you must still inform your employees of any potential risks and ensure they are doing their bit to mitigate the risks.
For example, if the employee's job involves computer work, the employer should provide the employee with information on the need for an appropriate space in which to work, with a suitable desk or table, chair, lighting, screen and keyboard, and how to set the equipment up appropriately to avoid health risks that could arise from prolonged computer use.
For legal reasons, employers should organise an injury reporting procedure for employees to follow should an accident occur. This should include an incident log that includes work-related deaths, major injuries, work-related diseases, and near-miss occasions. All employees should know the procedure for logging incidents. And incidents are looked into and a report created to ensure they don't happen again or explain why they occurred.
If an incident should happen in the workplace, it's important the employees are aware of their rights, and are free to seek legal aid without their job being in jeopardy.
It's important that everyone who works in the company is properly trained in both procedures and managing any potential hazards they may encounter during the work. They should also know who to report to when an incident occurs and what the follow-up procedure entails.
Training can range from knowing how to operate machinery to knowing where the First Aid kit is located. And training shouldn't be a one time thing, it should be repeated at regular intervals and updated as and when.
It's no secret that more people than ever are suffering with their mental health and as an employer you have a duty of care to ensure your employees are fit for work. Fostering an environment where your employees feel like they can talk openly and without judgement is the best way to help your employees.
Encouraging employees to be active and eat well will also help improve mental health. You could pay for weekly yoga sessions or encourage staff to start a sports team or running club. If you're unsure what your employees need – ask them. This can be an anonymous suggestion box or an open dialogue.
Published by Jason Warner