Tuesday, 26 May 2020 11:54

Protecting Public Safety During the COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented demands on workers within key sectors globally, some of which has resulted in staff stating that they feel as though they have to compromise their own personal safety or risk losing their jobs. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic employers, particularly those within the health and social care sectors, have been under increased pressure to meet public safety standards, whilst also publicly facing allegations from employees that social distancing is not taking place, face masks are not being worn and health and safety policies are not being adhered to. 

Over the past two months, nearly 5,000 people have contacted the health and safety regulator with workplace safety concerns related to COVID-19. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stated that in 321 cases safety inspectors asked employers to demonstrate what new measures had been taken and 27 employers were instructed to make safety improvements. For those businesses that do not want to put in place appropriate measures HSE will continue to use its regulatory powers to secure compliance.

One appropriate measure that employers can put in place is a whistleblowing helpline for their employees. Whistleblowing has proven to be a powerful tool to identify and prevent actions that undermine the public interest. Employers now more than ever need to ensure that their whistleblowing arrangements enable their staff to feel safe, supported and protected when raising concerns about their health and safety or any other issues they have witnessed in their workplace. 

This crisis has drastically changed the way in which businesses work and whether employers have staff working from home, have key workers travelling to work or have furloughed their staff, it is vital that business leaders are communicating with their staff and encouraging them to raise any workplace health, safety and welfare concerns they may have. 

Whistleblowers are one of the most effective ways for organisations to identify health and safety concerns in the workplace and this is especially important during times of crisis when a company’s normal decision-making process may be weakened. Here are our tips to promote a positive whistleblowing culture:

  • Regularly review your whistleblowing policy and ensure this is easily accessible to all staff
  • Promote the organisation’s commitment to whistleblowing
  • Ensure there is regular training for all staff on the importance of whistleblowing
  • Undertake prompt and comprehensive investigations into all genuine concerns
  • Ensure whistleblowers receive adequate feedback and support when they raise a concern
  • Emphasise the company’s stance that retaliation on whistleblowing will not be tolerated

SeeHearSpeakUp are a global whistleblowing service provider with specialised call handlers who can support you and your employees. For more information on our services and how we can help please contact our team on +44 1224 049782 or you can request a quote here