As we see a gradual easing of restrictions across Victoria, employers will need to commence preparations for employees returning back to their usual place of work. For many employees this may be an easy transition to ‘pick up where they left off’ with regards to their routine and usual practices of work. For others whom have become accustomed to a change of routine and responsibility at home, balancing home and work life and a change of pace, the return to the usual place of work may require greater consideration from employers. Firstly, employers need to ensure they have documented and communicated their workplace COVID-safe plan to all returning staff and to clarify any concerns or operational / logistical queries. A risk assessment needs to have been conducted and control measures implemented to minimise identified risks. Employees need to be made aware also of the changes to their work environment, and what work practices have changed to ensure the organisation is meeting its workplace health and safety obligations.
For more information on transitioning employees back to work following COVID – here is a great resource from Safe Work Australia – https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces/other-resources/transitioning-back-usual-workplaces
Employers also need to consider the physical and functional impact that being away from the usual place of work has had on employees. In particular with regards to manual or labour-intensive work, some employees may be ‘deconditioned’ or not at their prior level of physical and functional ability to perform their work duties. Many employees may have been keeping up regular exercise at home, whilst others may not. Employers should consider the impact this may have on the risk of workplace injury. It could be timely for employers to revisit policies and procedures around safe handling and operation of equipment. Employers should also consider refreshing staff on workplace manual handling practices and reviewing workplace ergonomics.
At Nabenet we have partnered with many workplaces to ensure sound workplace ergonomic and manual handling practices. Contact us on (03) 9981 9888 for a review of your organisation transition back to workplace program for our range of education and training services.