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Play it safe: 10 questions for a safe return to work

Ten questions for boards to ask for a safe return to work under Alert Level 2

By Institute of Directors
18 May 2020
Passengers seated in a bus

The challenges of working under the COVID-19 lockdown have disrupted most organisations and our ways of working. The rules under levels 4 and 3 are being significantly relaxed under level 2 with more freedoms that need to be carefully managed. We all need to play it safe to help ensure we keep COVID-19 at bay.

As organisations return to workplaces under level 2, boards need to ensure that management has a robust approach for a safe start back, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their people, customers and suppliers.   

It is also important to ensure there are plans in place to respond as effectively as possible if there is another outbreak and New Zealand moves back to alert level 3 or 4.

Ten questions for boards to ask to aid a safe return to work

  1. Is there a clear return to work plan in place? (eg that meets your organisation’s needs and health and safety obligations)
  2. What are the risks associated with staff returning to the workplace over the coming weeks? Has the risk register been updated and what systems and processes are in place to monitor these risks?
  3. What steps have been taken to ensure that the workplace is safe? (eg deep cleaning, building checks, air conditioning testing, restarting and testing machinery and equipment)
  4. What steps have been taken to ensure that the organisation is compliant with the Government’s guidance, including around social distancing?
  5. What steps are being taken to support management and your staff, including their mental wellbeing during the transition?
  6. Have staff been engaged throughout the process? What’s the temperature (cultural health) – how are they feeling?
  7. Is there a communications plan in place to support employees feeling safe about returning to work and to ensure that they are clear of what is expected of them?
  8. Have all relevant policies and processes been reviewed and updated?
  9. What systems have been put in place to allow your employees to voice any safety concerns?
  10. Is the board receiving the right information and assurance to support decision making during this time?

Resources to support a safe start back

Check our COVID-19 Governance hub regularly for new information and resources.

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