Workers must be given adequate mental health support to help them cope with a mix of Covid-19, seasonal illnesses like flu and higher business demands during winter, says Kevin Bampton.

Reflecting on this time last year, there was much talk about ‘saving Christmas’. What we discovered also was that the cost was to be a January lockdown, with home schooling and stringent social restrictions that made last winter memorable for too many of the wrong reasons. While at the moment there are mutterings about needing to take steps to avoid ‘Plan B’ or ‘lockdowns’, that unprecedented experience is unlikely to repeat itself.

I will tell anyone who cares to listen that the winter of 2020/2021 was a historic moment in British social and economic history. British business became, for the first time ever, my public health hero. When all other aspects of society were locked down, only the workplace was a place of social interaction. It was entirely up to the ingenuity and investment of employers to ensure that their staff did not catch or transmit Covid. As the figures were to show, control of this horrible respiratory disease was achieved by most businesses, the runaway statistics were tamed and, talking to HSE’s Covid-19 inspectors, many employers went above and beyond to protect their workers, their business continuity and public health.

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