Last reviewed 19 July 2021

Following the Government’s confirmation that England will move to the final stage of relaxing Covid-19 lockdown restrictions from 19 July, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has urged caution with regard to people returning to workplaces.

Head of Advice and Practice, Duncan Spencer, said: “Despite the relaxations, we encourage employers to ensure they continue to put in place preventive measures to reduce the likelihood of Covid-19 being transmitted in their workplaces.”

Risk assessments can help to identify proportionate controls to protect workers, clients, consumers and communities, he went on. With Covid risks, this might include a reasonable request for people to continue wearing face masks and to observe social distancing measures.

Employers might wish to emulate other socially conscious organisations by asking workers to test themselves regularly, Mr Spencer suggested, including supplying them with lateral flow test kits.

However, IOSH has warned, it is imperative that any preventive measures are communicated clearly to employees, empowering them to work safely while this disease remains a significant threat.

“In addition to preventing Covid transmission,” Mr Spencer concluded, “employers also need to consider the impact of returning to work on people’s mental health and wellbeing, with the possibility that staff may be deeply concerned about returning.”

IOSH recommends that “open and non-stigmatised” conversations are proactively arranged by line managers as part of a strong overall mental health and wellbeing strategy.