The world, as we know it is no longer the same since the coronavirus crisis and classroom, and group training must cease immediately. You can no longer safely deliver safety or mental health training face-to-face or as a group in a classroom. Going forward, you must consider moving your training online to protect your employees from the coronavirus crisis and future emergencies.
In this article, we look at what you can do to ensure you meet your OHS obligations to maintain a safe working environment while managing coronavirus. We suggest that you can shift your safety and mental health training to online platforms to reduce the need to meet face-t0-face and in groups.
Organisations Have a Duty of Care
All organisations have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes making sure the work environment is safe and that you manage all foreseeable risks. Your systems must be suitable and effective. You must provide information, training, instruction and supervision, and you need to monitor the health, including mental health, of all employees.
The best way to stem the flow of coronavirus in your workplace is to use proactive risk management approaches. In doing so, you meet your OHS Obligations, protect yourself from industrial manslaughter laws and the possibility of being held liable in the future if found to have mismanaged the issue. You should assess the classroom and group training methods that you use within a risk management framework.
See our article, Coronavirus Impacts Mental Health and Safety.
How Do You Manage the Coronavirus Risk?
To prevent a coronavirus outbreak in your workplace, you should consider:
- your policies on international and domestic travel,
- deferring hosting of, and attendance at events,
- how you will undertake your internal classroom and group and external training,
- if you can set-up remote working and working from home arrangements,
- what you will do if an employee becomes ill with the virus at work,
- ventilation and air conditioning, cleaning and make arrangements for additional deep cleaning, where necessary,
- how your employees who fall ill will notify you, and
- what happens if you have an emergency and need to evacuate.
You need to ensure that you enforcing the national requirements to manage and contain the coronavirus and that your organisation’s policies and procedures remain up-to-date.
Managing Employee Mental Health
In February 2020, Mercer conducted a global survey investigating the impact of coronavirus on organisations. The data shows that only 16.4% of companies are addressing psychological stress as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
People are naturally worried and heightened levels of anxiety can lead to negative impacts on mental health. If your employees have an underlying mental health issue, the crisis is likely to exacerbate the problem.
Also, the recommendations to ensure we slow down the spread of the disease are to make sure to engage in social distancing and social isolation. However, social isolation can lead to an increase in loneliness. Many employees look to work as a social outlet and isolation and social distancing while working from home, could see an increase in loneliness.
Organisations must develop strategies for wellbeing checks on their employees. You might want to ensure daily check-ins for employees who are in self-isolation or working from home. You should provide specific training for managers on how to support their team’s wellbeing while working remotely. Virtual messaging and regular catch-ups online and on the phone can help to keep connections alive.
Another issue when working remotely or from home is the blur between work and home-life. The 24/7 connectivity that remote-work and working from home offers can lead to burnout.
One way to assist employees in managing their mental health is to train effective coping strategies and to encourage them to seek help if things get too much. Tap into Safety uses MicroLearning to teach coping strategies to help employees relax, reduce stress, and overcome anxious and depressed feelings. For more information, please contact us or try a free demo.
See our article, Detaching from Work Helps Our Mental Health.
How Do You Safely Carry Out Workplace Training?
The escalation of coronavirus changes the way organisations should train their employees. Wherever possible, they should NOT be undertaking training activities face-to-face, classroom and group activities. The risk is too high that you will spread the virus. By continuing with traditional training delivery methods, organisations are unnecessarily bringing people together.
Group training increases the risk of the spread of the disease, and some may argue that using these methods is a breach of our duty of care.
There is no need to do that for your safety and mental health training because there is substantial online training available.
It’s time for a re-think of how you train and what else you can do to keep your employees physically and psychologically safe.
See our article, Make Your Workplace Safety Training More Impactful.
The rapidly spreading coronavirus is challenging the way we work and train. What was acceptable last year, is no longer an option because there is a risk of spreading the disease. Organisations have a duty of care to protect their employees from harm, and all risks should be managed within a risk management framework.
Organisations need to include a heightened focus on psychological health during the crisis because employees with underlying mental health issues are at high-risk. Change, isolation, 24/7 connectivity while working from home can exacerbate already anxious and stressed employees. They need to learn coping strategies and know where to seek help if they start to become unwell.
The recommended requirements to self-distance and self-isolate also place the methods we use for our internal and external training under the spotlight. Continuing with classroom and group training is now high-risk, and organisations need to move to online training platforms as soon as possible.