For our new wellbeing podcast series, the Talent in Logistics team recently caught up with Mike Hayward, Partner and Head of Crime and Regulatory at Woodfines Solicitors, which specialises in cases involving the road transport and logistics sectors.
The podcast, which you can listen to in full here, discusses the duty of employers to review their policies and procedures during these unprecedented times and what businesses need to know as their employees return to work.
Read on to find out some of the key takeaways from our discussion with Mike.
What steps do you think need to be taken by employers when re-integrating their teams into the workplace?
Mike Hayward: Everything here will depend on the size and type of business, and how it is organised, managed, and regulated. Whatever sector you work within, there will be regulatory bodies giving specific guidance, so it is important to start there.
I urge employers not to panic. Look at the core, fundamental legal requirements (largely set by the health and safety at work regulations) which say that every business has a duty of care to those that come into their businesses as visitors or workers. Although we are all adapting to the world with Covid-19, let’s keep track of some of the fundamental safeguards that have to be in place. That’s carrying out certain risk assessments and making sure that you’re thinking: what we can do to achieve best practice? What can we do to ensure that our staff and visitors are safe?
You can only do your best. And one of the things that I would certainly advise businesses on, is to keep note of the measures taken. The Health and Safety Executive and the Government are talking about trying to take reasonable steps to achieve best practice, rather than this being set in law.
It’s about managing risk, but also about talking to your staff about what they feel is important, and the ideas they have to improve or to mitigate the chances of infection.
Are there any specific workplace policies/procedures that may need a review as they will now be inaccurate in light of the pandemic?
MH: Yes, so this is a really important opportunity to review all of those policies and handbooks! Use this time as an opportunity to look at the procedures and processes you already have in place, refresh them and, where you can, apply the Covid-19 guidance from the Health and Safety Executive and the Government.
Ensure that these changes are communicated to teams effectively. Share your updated risk assessments so people are knowledgeable about the changes made, even if they are working from home. You may want to set up “toolbox talks”, whether remotely or in the workplace (with social distancing) giving updates to the staff as to what your expectations are, and what measures you are putting in place. Also, to keep a record when you communicate this to your teams. Include when it took place, who attended, and get people to confirm that they read the instructions (get signatures if you can). It’s all about the documentation showing the steps you are taking in order to do what you can reasonably in these circumstances.
One thing that’s important to us is people’s health and welfare. A lot of businesses are suffering financially, already on a reduced amount of people, but are now expected to put additional measures in place, with yet more downtime and expenditure in relation to infrastructure. We want to see regulators, such as the Health and Safety Executive, working closely with businesses to ensure that everybody’s doing the best that they possibly can.
Rules can be very debilitating. You can feel bogged down by the amount of guidance that’s coming through. So, step back, consider what you need to do, implement all that you can, get advice where it’s necessary, and talk it through with associations, and people around you.