With Winter fast approaching, employers need to be using these Autumn months to prepare for the problems that will inevitably follow. Now is the time for colds to spread and for the bad weather to really set in, so why not get ahead of the rush and be prepared with these handy health and safety tips.
Although employees can get sick at any time of the year, it is more common in the Autumn and Winter months. Many people are more prone to coughs, colds and the flu, so it is important to anticipate this on the run up to Autumn.
Solution: Promote Good Hygiene & Create a Clear Sick Policy
It may seem like common sense, but by simply reinforcing the importance of good hygiene practices, such as hand washing, you could minimise the spread of germs and therefore the amount of employees getting ill. You could even encourage the use of the flu vaccination if you want to stress how employees can protect themselves against getting ill. As well as awareness, you also need to make sure that employees know what to do if they become ill. Who do they need to call? How much time do they need to give beforehand? What certifies as ‘ill?’
Resources: Sickness Absence – Guidance for Employers
Problem: Bad Weather
With adverse weather conditions comes unsafe driving conditions, public transport disturbances, and school closures. As a result, employers may find it difficult to handle latecomers or when employees can’t make it in at all.
Solution: Create a Flexible Policy
It’s important to be as flexible as you can be within this period, as unforeseen weather conditions and public transport issues can’t be avoided. Employers also have a duty of care to their employees so for health and safety reasons, employees shouldn’t be driving in dangerous conditions. However, if these conditions are starting to be detrimental to your business year after year, you may have to implement a policy outlining whether you will pay for absences as a result of bad weather or whether employees should use some of their annual leave, as well as how absences should be handled and the notices that should be given.
Problem: Annual Leave Requests
With so many holidays coming up in such a short period of time, the Autumn months are filled with a surge of annual leave requests. If not handled sufficiently and fairly, this could lead to problems amongst employees and therefore productivity in the workplace.
Solution: Encourage Communication Between Employees
One of the best ways to handle annual leave is to encourage employees to discuss it amongst themselves. Many companies find that the number of people who prefer Christmas off to New Years is fairly equal, so this is usually enough to treat everyone fairly. If this is not the case for you, consider giving people who didn’t get the time they wanted off priority for choosing their Summer leave.
Employers are obliged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (2004) to provide a safe workplace for their employees, so if you need any help or advice regarding regulations and what you need in place, feel free to get in touch.
Need More Help?
ActiveHSE provides many publications and resources on Health and Safety, including policy log books and checklists that can be tailored to your business. If you need any advice or guidance on which ones you need, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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