The Coronavirus, or more specifically COVID-19, was declared a Pandemic on March 11th 2020 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and has affected virtually every business in some way, some have felt the effects far more than others but all businesses have either had to furlough their employees and close or have had to make drastic operational changes to enable continued work but with additional controls in place and/or homeworking for some staff.
The official guidance from the Government was considered by many business operators to be vague and owners and Directors also had to deal with many initial misconceptions about the virus along with concerns, some more justified than others, from their workforce. Even where companies were able to continue trading initially they slowly realised their own supply chain was shutting down causing some issues.
Many people have had to suffer the consequences of the COVID-19 virus both through the infection and also fear their employment might be affected.
Businesses are beginning to restart their operations with Taylor Wimpey and many car manufacturing sites having returned to work on 27th April and all business’s, that cannot have employees working from home, to resume their operations from 11th May. Construction sites were able to remain open throughout the lockdown as long as workers are able to follow social distancing measures.
Concerns surrounding adequate PPE being available have also caused problems with facemasks in particular being in short supply although this appears to be easing. Although companies must not relax the rules based on the unavailability of PPE there may be alternative methods of work that don’t require PPE.
Additional business concerns will be around criminal activity affecting computers with ‘Hackers’ using people’s concerns and fears to obtain personal or business financial data. It should also be noted that there have been over 16000 newly registered Coronavirus domains since January 2020. Other impacts will be staff shortage due to ill health absence but again companies should not accept multi-tasking of employees unless those people are adequately trained in the use of any work equipment and safe system of work needed.
A second wave of infections once companies begin a return to normal business operations is also a concern and should be considered when commencing a return to work. Vulnerable people will still need to be protected and in some cases ‘shielded’ but it seems highly likely there will still be a requirement for social distancing to be maintained.
As far as safety in these strange times are concerned we are all still being asked to practice social distancing (and to stop hoarding toilet paper) which we should be able to incorporate into most of our safe systems of work.