Louise Hosking, OSH specialist and managing director of Hosking Associates, has highlighted the reflects on how business owners and OSH professionals can ensure a safer future
Facing compounded challenges, most business leaders have had to work hard and fast to keep up with the ever-evolving situation, while juggling existing commitments and altering their working methods.
Organisations which have done well during this period of pandemic can invest in health and safety and create an effective response to OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) in the post-pandemic world that emerges. On the other hand, the smaller organisations or those that have been impacted by the pandemic has undoubtedly struggled to keep up with staff training, maintenance checks and risk assessments which verify appropriate safety measures, and support for employees. Organisations are less likely to embark on new health and safety initiatives in areas other than for critical Covid-19 protocols.
“It will be hard, but as business builds back better this should be included ensuring OSH resources are available and that, as a business community, we push for continual improvements in the face of adversity,” he added.
A positive result of the pandemic is that, in general, organisations has realised and have a deeper understanding of the hierarchy of risk control and risk-based principles.
Prevention should be the first port of call. Embedding infection control within daily risk assessments and policies should become standard. This can simplify the process, ensure standards do not slip, and enable businesses to be prepared for emerging threats.
An agile outlook should be adopted by leaders. Learning to control properly and having everything realistically prioritise, put systems in place in advance where we can prepare and let go of others. Fearlessly developing agile and adaptable mindset facilitates a more effective response in times of potential adversity.
Having clearly defined business values and standards are a key part of developing safety and health as an integral part of organisational culture. From the outset, employees at all levels of business should be provided with health and safety information. OSH should be a regular conversation, and clear communication a priority.
Managed Health and Safety gap to build back better. For some organisations, OSH will not be top of the agenda as the wheels of industry begin turning again. Staff training or routine maintenance might be seen as a cost rather than an investment and could lead to hiding worsening work conditions. Long working hours as businesses claw back adds to the psychosocial challenges already being faced.
Professionals need to effectively communicate the risk-based principles and look again at new and emerging hazards. If businesses are supported to build back better, they must see OSH professionals as enablers who create value for business.