Occupational Health & Safety: Building trust through proactive management
Corona has a firm grip on our working environment. With the recent decision by the federal government, home office must be made possible wherever there are no operational reasons not to do so. That's what the Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance, which went into effect on January 27, 2021, stipulates. Many employees still work at their regular workplaces, although they could also perform the work from home office. According to a recent survey, around 25% of all employees are currently working from home, although this would be possible in an estimated 56% of cases. In the future, companies that still do not offer home office must therefore be able to present comprehensible operational reasons for this. In this way, social contact at work is to be reduced to a minimum in order to further reduce the risk of infection. While the potential for protection in the private and public spheres has almost been exhausted, experts still see such potentials in occupational health and safety.
Home office: Violations can result in fines
But what does this mean for the concepts that have been developed within the framework of Occupational Health & Safety (OHS)? – Basically, if work cannot be performed in home office, the employer must take appropriate measures to ensure equivalent protection. This includes providing medical face masks if minimum distances cannot be maintained due to operational conditions. At the same time, physical meetings are to be limited to the bare minimum. Instead, small, clearly defined working groups are recommended, which can work at different times. This not only results in increased demands on occupational health and safety. Management is also challenged in a special way, as the coordination of the individual teams, but also the needs of the individual, represent a major challenge. While employees are generally not obligated to make use of offered home office, employers face severe fines if they do not comply with the requirements of the regulation without compelling operational reasons.
The balancing act between home office and returning to work
Although the vaccination campaigns that are starting up promise an improvement in the general situation soon and hold out the prospect of possible relaxations of existing restrictions: The demands on occupational health and safety will thus not decrease in the near future. Instead, managers and OHS officers should prepare themselves for the upcoming balancing act between continuing home office and returning to the regular workplace. The different needs of own employees, the legal requirements, but also operational requirements are in a constant state of tension, which must be mastered through proactive management. In doing so, people and safety managers should follow a number of principles.
Open corporate communication as a component of proactive management
Open corporate communication is at the forefront of proactive management. After all, this is the basic prerequisite for acceptance and trust between employees and employer and at the same time supports a positive working atmosphere – also and especially in times of the pandemic. Active and early involvement of the company's own staff in upcoming decisions is just as much a part of this as their consistent implementation. Of course, this also includes all measures for health and safety at the workplace – whether in the company or in home office. Professional e-learning on the subject of working during the pandemic provides clarity and can increase the effectiveness of the protective measures taken. With modern training tools such as interactive e-learning, employees can be reached anywhere and at any time, making it a valuable tool for proactive management.