Moving back to normal, again

In Health and Safety, October 20213 MinutesBy Tracey MurphyNovember 6, 2021

When you read this, I hope that life, for you, is heading back to normal. Normal life, or as normal as it may be, is likely to bring many changes.

Some of us will move back to the office and continue the work we have been doing at home. Some of us will be organising meetings that may or may not require social distancing. Some of us will be looking for work and trying to rebuild our lives. The alert level changes in different regions of New Zealand add complexity for those needing to cross the border.

One certainty is that people will be out and about. There will be more traffic on the roads, more people in shops and more people in our workplaces. Some of these will be our workmates. Some might be new to the team; others may be sub-contractors, customers, or visitors. Just as there is a rise in incidents, some serious, after the Christmas break, there is likely to be a rise in incidents following the restrictions due to Covid-19.

As we saw during all lockdown levels, some people are intent on following their own purposes, rather than following the rules.

The extra requirements following Delta are simple:

• Face coverings must be worn in any level 3 businesses or services that are open and involve customer contact. This may be extended to level 2, although it isn’t when I write this (apart from public transport or flights).

• Businesses are legally required to display a QR code and provide an alternative contact tracing system. It is recommended that you make sure people scan in or provide their contact details.

Starting with a toolbox or staff meeting can be an excellent way of reminding everyone of a workplace’s safe practices. Include the normal principles of safe practice – wearing PPE, ensuring guards are fitted and used, and so on. Depending on your workplace, the presence of other people needs to be emphasised.

The roads have been relatively clear; this will return to the customary crush of traffic, drivers focussed on their own journeys and preoccupied with rebuilding their work lives. Forklift operators, particularly those in workplaces where the public has access, will need to be particularly diligent about ensuring the area around them is clear.

Consider the actions you can take to protect workers and others in their workplaces. These can include restricting access to certain areas, induction and sign in, and escorting people through the workplace. Plan for the safety of your workers and others.