“Returning to the workplace after the COVID-19 lockdown” – Society of Occupational Medicine toolkit

The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM), in partnership with the CIPD, Business in the Community, Mind and ACAS, has published a toolkit for professionals to provide advice for employers and employees returning to work in the context of COVID-19.

It is designed to assist them in managing risk alongside their legal obligations, and is subject to change depending on government announcements.

There is a duty on employers, HR, Occupational Health professionals, and employees to understand how to make the workplace safe, their role in that process, and the need to be involved and work together in making those decisions.  There is a need to strengthen the relationship between employers and employees to inform decisions that will facilitate practical solutions and support the effective work of the organisation.

A risk assessment should link clinical vulnerability risk to specific workplace risks. Employers need to be aware of the risks of increased workplace tensions and disputes, arising from changes to workplace practices and working arrangements, and from fear of infection on return to work. Employers should also seek to identify obstacles that may prevent or delay a return or require workers to remain away from the workplace.

Occupational Health and other professionals can assist managers with risk assessments, for example with advice on cleaning, disinfection, ergonomic and hygiene/ventilation systems and how stringent social distancing can be applied in the workplace.

This toolkit addresses the following general principles:

  • Principles of a good return to work
  • Safe physical work-environment
  • Placing a focus on mentally healthy workplaces
  • Creating the right framework
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