Last reviewed 3 September 2020

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) says the UK will now be living and working “alongside the Covid-19 virus as it spreads, subsides and then ‘spikes’ again in unexpected ways among populations, communities and workforces”.

The statement from IOSH also notes the pandemic is at different stages of development in different territories around the world. Now, in places where infection rates and the reproduction rate — or R-number — had declined in recent months, latest data shows Covid-19 cases are increasing again.

Affected cities and regions have been extending or introducing restrictions on travel, movement, sizes of social gathering and what venues and businesses can operate. These are often known as “local lockdowns” and — in common with enhanced quarantine measures for international travel — can be imposed suddenly, in various forms.

The professional body says it recommends a systematic plan–do–check–act approach, with employers deploying a planned, risk-controlled approach — based on strong leadership, worker involvement and sound health and safety advice — to ensure safe people, workplace, systems and equipment.

In principle, IOSH says, there should be no change in relation to the fundamentals of risk assessments and control measures, designed around the four key returning safely areas, namely safe people, safe workplaces, safe equipment and safe systems.

IOSH says, “What’s essential is to remain vigilant, agile and disciplined in how you plan for and implement your own workplace controls.”