COVID-19 and workplace health & safety

Before 2020, when it came to the health and safety of your workplace, a viral outbreak such as the coronavirus is something we may not have considered.

While in most people COVID-19 only causes cold and flu-like symptoms, as an employer you would want to ensure you provide best practice safety measures in the workplace environments for your employees.

PM Boris Johnson stated in his press release on 10th of May that once specific requirements are met, the lockdown will slowly loosen up. Already some people are allowed back into the workplace, and unlimited outdoor exercise is permitted.

ISO 45001 specifies requirements for occupational health and safety management. Implementing this into your workplace is especially important for those essential workers who are currently at work and will help keep your employees safe for those who return to workplaces in the future.

Here are some ways which you could use an OH&S management system to protect the health and safety of your employees during a viral outbreak:

  1. Assess the risk that a viral outbreak such as COVID-19 poses to your organisation/supply chain and plan actions to address it.
  2. Review your organisation’s processes, policies, and procedures for preparing and responding to potential emergency situations to ensure that it covers viral outbreaks.
  3. Revise your sick leave policy to include information on viral outbreaks and then distribute it, requesting everybody read and acknowledge having read it.
  4. Communicate with and educate employees on how the outbreak of a virus or other infectious diseases can spread. You may need to schedule mandatory training which outlines everybody’s responsibilities, in particular First Aiders who should be made aware of the initial response.
  5. Circulate general advice about how to avoid the spread of viruses, including contractors, clients and other visitors to your organisation.
  6. Reassess travel arrangements to reduce the risk for all employees, ensuring there is no travel to areas where a virus is known to be present.
  7. Identify any at-risk employees, for example, those with underlying health conditions or a weakened immune system, and ensure suitable procedures are put in place to ensure their safety.
  8. Keep up-to-date on the latest news regarding any viral outbreaks to make sure your organisation can continue to monitor the risk that they represent.
  9. Put a remote working policy in place should any of your employees’ face being quarantined after possible transmission of a virus and confirm how long an employee should stay out of work if remote working isn’t possible.
  10. Put a procedure in place to report any outbreak of a virus within your organisation and any corrective actions.

While we are all busy protecting the NHS, don’t forget to protect your employees and your organisation. For more information on how ISO 45001 can help to protect your workplace health and safety, get in touch with our compliance experts.


Find how Activ can help your organisation with ISO compliance management.