Covid-19: staff fear health and safety being ‘taken to the extreme’

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Fifteen per cent of employees think workplace health and safety will be “taken to the extreme” because of Covid-19.

According to a survey of more than 1,000 UK workers, only 29% felt the pandemic has had a positive effect on how health and safety is treated in the workplace, while 25% felt the virus would have a negative impact on health and safety measures.

However, ore positively, 23% agreed that creating a culture where staff can be open and honest about their health and wellbeing was the best way to improve health and safety at work, while 22% felt health and safety compliance needed to be taken more seriously.

Science and pharmaceutical employees were the most likely to think their employer didn’t take their health seriously (30%), followed by workers in the legal sector (24%) and travel and transport employees (22%).

Roshni Patel, professional services manager at eyecare business Lenstore, which commissioned the survey, said: “There is no doubt that Covid-19 will change health and safety in the workplace and it’s vital that employers take this seriously to make everyone feel safe today and in the future.

“There can be simple fixes that companies can implement to make their employees feel more supported, from the correct equipment to alleviate any back issues or eye strain, to simply communicating policies more frequently.”

The survey also asked employees about their mental wellbeing. Twenty-one per cent of those who had taken time off because of a work-related illness said stress was the cause, followed by anxiety (20%) and depression (14%).

Thirteen per cent said their time off work had been due to back ache, while 12% said they had another musculoskeletal problem.

The top three issues that people felt their job put them at risk at work included the risk of infection (21%), mental health issues (20%) and risk of physical injury (16%).

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