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Managing Health and Safety During a Pandemic: Lessons Learned and Best Practices for Employers

James Rowland

James Rowland

Commercial Director

Managing Health and Safety During a Pandemic Lessons Learned and Best Practices for Employers

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The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us important lessons on how to effectively manage workplace health and safety.

Employers can use these lessons to protect their employees now and in the future.

This involves creating policies for workplace hygiene, providing relevant personnel with enough supplies, being adaptable, conducting thorough health and safety assessments, prioritising employee health and well-being, and maintaining excellent two-way employee communications.

Managing Health and Safety During a Pandemic Lessons Learned and Best Practices for Employers

Lesson 1: Implementing Robust Hygiene Practices

One of the most vital lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic is the significance of robust hygiene practices.

Employers must emphasise the importance of hand hygiene and educate employees about proper hand-washing techniques.

Regular hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds should be encouraged, especially before and after certain activities such as using shared equipment or touching common surfaces.

Providing hand sanitisers in easily accessible locations throughout the workplace can further promote hygiene practices.

Employers should educate employees on the correct usage of hand sanitisers, including applying an adequate amount and ensuring thorough coverage.

Lesson 2: Health & Safety Assessments are Vital

One of the most crucial lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is the undeniable importance of health and safety assessments in the workplace which serve as a vital tool in identifying potential risks and hazards, allowing employers to implement appropriate controls and preventive measures.

The pandemic has shown us that complacency can have severe consequences, and employers must take proactive measures to conduct these assessments to evaluate their existing protocols, identify areas of improvement, and ensure compliance with health guidelines and regulations.

Health and safety assessments provide a comprehensive overview of potential risks, enabling employers to make informed decisions and take necessary actions to create a safe and healthy work environment.

Lesson 3: Adaptability Is Key

The ever-evolving nature of the pandemic has required employers to remain agile and flexible in their approach to ensure the safety of their employees.

It has become evident that static and rigid protocols are insufficient in the face of rapidly changing circumstances.

Employers must instead be prepared to adapt their health and safety assessments and protocols to align with the latest information and guidelines from health authorities.

This adaptability includes conducting regular assessments to identify new risks, revising existing protocols, and implementing additional measures as necessary.

By embracing adaptability, employers can proactively respond to emerging challenges, mitigate risks, and provide a safe and secure environment for their workforce.

The lesson learned is clear: a resilient health and safety program requires continuous adaptation to effectively navigate the uncertainties of a pandemic and protect employee well-being.

Further Reading: Preparing for the Unexpected: Emergency Response Planning for Employers

Lesson 4: Prioritising Employee Health and Well-being

Prioritising worker Health & Safety

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of prioritising employee health and well-being.

Employers have learned that the well-being of their workforce directly impacts the overall success and resilience of their organisation.

By placing employee health and well-being at the forefront, employers can create a culture of safety and support.

This includes providing flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or staggered shifts, to minimise exposure risks and promote a better work/life balance.

Employers should also encourage regular health screenings and symptom assessments, as well as supporting employees’ mental health.

The pandemic has taken a toll on individuals’ psychological well-being so offering resources like counselling services, and promoting work-life balance, contribute to a healthier and more engaged workforce.

Through health and safety assessments, employers can identify opportunities to prioritise employee health and well-being, creating a workplace where employees feel valued, supported, and safe.

Lesson 5: Communication is Critical

The pandemic has taught us the importance of clear and consistent communication when it comes to health and safety.

Employers must ensure that employees are made aware of any health and safety protocols in place, as well as any updates or changes.

This requires open channels of communication where employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns and have access to reliable, up-to-date information.

Having a dedicated team or individual in charge of communicating health and safety protocols is essential for effective communication and compliance with health guidelines.

This team can create materials for employee education, provide clear instructions for protocols, answer questions from employees, and ensure that all staff members are aware of any changes.

By committing to open and transparent communication, employers can promote understanding and create a culture of safety, trust, and collaboration.


The COVID-19 pandemic has presented organisations with unprecedented challenges, but it has also provided valuable lessons for the future.

Through health and safety assessments, adaptability, prioritising employee health and well-being, and effective communication, employers can ensure the safety of their workforce and create a workplace culture that supports employee engagement.

By learning from the lessons of COVID-19 and embracing the value of health and safety assessments, employers can create environments that prioritise the well-being of their employees and foster a culture of safety that extends far beyond the confines of a pandemic.

Next Steps 

Neathouse Partners provide HR and employment law consultancy services to businesses throughout the UK.

Our team of experienced HR consultants and employment law specialists provide expert guidance and assistance in every aspect of HR management, including effective Health & Safety planning, policies and management.

Contact us on 01244 893776 to book a free, no-obligation call with one of our experienced team.

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