With backing from several national organisations, the Bevan Commission will today host a Return to Work after Covid-19 lockdown seminar. This will provide an opportunity to listen to a number of well-known occupational health experts providing direct input and advice and to ask questions.
The seminar is a pre-launch of the Society of Occupational Medicine Return to Work Toolkit. The toolkit, available from Monday 18th May at som.org.uk , has been designed with partners to help employers and occupational health professionals get the nation back to work, safely in line with Government guidelines, helping employers create safer and healthier workplaces for returning workers.
Today's online seminar, which has nearly 500 attendees registered, will be available to watch online following the event.
Professor Sir Mansel Aylward Chair of the Bevan Commission said: “ In these most unwanted and difficult times I constantly have in mind a memorable and sobering quote that only a crisis-actual or perceived produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. We most certainly have a crisis and need to exploit the necessary assets, equipment, knowledge and innovation to tackle more successfully the unprecedented challenges flowing from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The toolkit, free to download from the SOM website from 18th May, is supported by the following organisations, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Business in the Community (BITC), and MIND, the mental health charity.
Dr Will Ponsonby, President of SOM, said: “The directions and advice from the UK Government, the Health and Safety Executive, and Public Health are necessary but not sufficient to support return to work. Our toolkit will help employers manage risk alongside their legal obligations, which will ensure workers feel confident to go back to work safely.”
Peter Cheese, CEO CIPD, said: “We have to plan ahead for what is likely to be a staged return to work over what could be prolonged periods. Employers need to be clear about the principles of how we do this well. Central to those principles should be how we take care of our people, as many people will be concerned and anxious about being in workplaces or travelling to workplaces. The toolkit from SOM will help employers put into place systems that will allay those fears.”
Amanda Mackenzie, CEO BITC, said: “We want people coming back to work motivated to build back better. Companies must realise that COVID is not a great leveller. Some groups require more support than others. As responsible businesses, we must step up and meet this new challenge with our eyes open, which this toolkit will help people do.”
The Bevan Commission and SOM both recognise the significance of a safe return to work and that for most businesses, helping workers return safely and productively will be a considerable challenge. Its advice is for businesses to plan for any return, and any plans should have the agreement of managers, human resource professionals, the workers themselves and the unions that represent them.
The complexity of any return to work plan will reflect the size of the organisation and the SOM toolkit includes step-by-step advice on how to do this. It also includes advice for occupational health professionals advising businesses.
The toolkit is available to download from www.som.org.uk from May 18th
Notes for editors
The Bevan Commission is the leading Think Tank for Health and Care in Wales. It is Chaired by Professor Sir Mansel Aylward and supported by 23 internationally renowned Commissioners, drawn from across the UK and wider afield. It aims to find more sustainable, prudent and innovative solutions for health and care that are fit for the future. http://www.bevancommission.org/
The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/884171/FINAL_6.6637_CO_HMG_C19_Recovery_FINAL_110520_v2_WEB__1_.pdf
SOM’s journal Occupational Medicine produces articles such as COVID-19 and work – advance articles at https://academic.oup.com/occmed/advance-articles
Occupational health helps people of working age access and stay in appropriate work and live full and healthy working lives despite underlying disabilities or health conditions. They help employers reduce sickness absence and increase productivity by providing advice on best practice and how to comply with legal duties such as the Equality Act 2010 and Health and Safety legislation. They advise on fitness for work, return to work programmes, workplace adjustments to enable people with health conditions to return to/remain at work, suitable alternative work and early retirement on ill health grounds. The value of OH is set out in Occupational Health: the value proposition https://www.som.org.uk/sites/som.org.uk/files/Occupational_health_the_value_proposition_0.pdf; Occupational Health: The Global Evidence and Value https://www.som.org.uk/sites/som.org.uk/files/OH-the_global_evidence_and_value_Apr_2018.pdf; and The Value of Occupational Health to Workplace Wellbeing https://www.som.org.uk/value-occupational-health-workplace-wellbeing-register-your-free-copy. In June 2019, the SOM published an evidence-based report on ‘The Value of Occupational Health Research https://www.som.org.uk/sites/som.org.uk/files/SOM_Value_OH_Research_June2019.pdf, funded by the Health and Safety Executive. It identified the important impact of workplace ill health on UK productivity, the high associated economic costs and the unmet need for effective research to guide future policy.
Occupational clinicians interpret the instructions of the government and Public Health and the most up-to-date clinical evidence to support businesses in keeping their workforce well. They use their combination of clinical expertise and deep understanding of how health affects work to empower managers and employers to make the right decisions, at the right time, to ensure the health both of their employees and their businesses e.g. what employers should do when workers are pregnant and what steps managers should take with their older and more vulnerable employees. som.org.uk