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ScotGov says Health & Safety Professionals to play critical role in easing COVID-19 lockdown


The Scottish Government's COVID-19: A Framework For Decision Making document, published on April 23, highlights the role that health and safety professionals will play in easing the national lockdown.

The paper outlines factors that must be considered as the country moves to gradually ease restrictions, transitioning into a “new normal.”

Highlighting the work that health and safety professionals do, the Scottish Government (ScotGov) document states:

“We will support businesses and other organisations in this redesign so they can be places where physical distancing can operate. Our health and safety professional communities will play a critical role.

“We will need to consider compliance with physical distancing advice in the workplace and in other settings. We have already begun the conversation on how to respond, re-set, restart and recover with our business community and our trade unions. Businesses are already learning about safe working with physical distancing in place, showing how effectively they can adapt and change their business models.”

Moreover, the document makes it clear the path forward will be long and winding. It suggests physical distancing will likely be the case throughout the remainder of 2020.

This puts health and safety professionals in the spotlight for the foreseeable future.

Consequently, Murray Ferguson, Director at Pro-Sapien, Scotland-based providers of health and safety software, commented:

“Considering the tri-weekly review and the length of time it takes for trends to appear, the timescale for relaxing COVID-19 prevention measures stretches into months. Whether a business can reopen its doors will likely come down to risk assessments carried out by health and safety specialists. Nonetheless, it is gratifying to see the importance of health and safety professionals recognised by the Scottish Government, which I'm sure will be welcomed by the community.”

According to ScotGov, the easing of measures is not likely until we “see R stabilise below 1.0”. R- means the reproduction number of an infection, or in other words, how many people one host typically infects.

This gives health and safety professionals time to formulate thorough plans for the safe, albeit limited, return to work.

Plans of both essential and non-essential businesses may include:

  • Workplace walkthroughs: completing inspections against a new set of criteria aimed at preventing virus transmission
  • Risk assessments: carrying out risk assessments at region, location, and workstation level to implement effective engineering, administrative and PPE controls
  • Procuring PPE before it is urgent, including new requirements (face masks)
  • Mental health: considering the mental health impacts associated with prolonged periods of isolation
  • Training: clear communication of new policies and procedures in training, ideally delivered remotely prior to workers returning onsite
  • IT and Software: ensuring all relevant software tools are configured to meet the demands of the “new normal”
  • Employee trust: putting easy communication methods in place to allow employees to voice concerns

As a provider of health and safety management software, Pro-Sapien is currently undertaking research into clients' preparation. The findings will be published at www.pro-sapien.com.

Scotland is part of the four nation framework of the UK. This ensures England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland take a coordinated approach to managing the spread of coronavirus.

The Scottish Government COVID-19: A Framework For Decision Making document is available here.

Social distancing advice for businesses is available here.

UK firms can get the latest official coronavirus guidance from the HSE here.



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