Health and Safety Update: How Many People Have Coronaphobia?

Health and Safety Update: How Many People Have Coronaphobia?

22nd June 2020

As the UK and other countries around the world return to work, it has been revealed that many people are worried about their health as they try to get back to normal life again.

Dubbed coronaphobia, the fear of going back to work has begun to appear as lockdown restrictions ease. How many people suffer from it, and what should companies be doing to get their staff through this period?

How Widespread Is This Fear?

At the moment, there are still only anecdotal reports from employers about workers not wanting to return, rather than solid numbers. However, there have already been reports of this occurring in different places.

Businesses are reporting that some staff prefer to stay on furlough for longer and others are getting signed off due to anxiety. It has even been suggested that people may look for a change of career, to allow them to work in what they perceive to be a safer environment.

A study by Populus Data Solutions showed that 73% of respondents didn’t think it safe for anyone over 65 to go back to work. 52% of them thought that no-one over the age of 55 would be safe at work.

However, 62% said that it was safe for anyone between the ages of 18 and 24 to start working again. 50% of students stated that they were in favour of employers turning to younger people to get their businesses up and running again.

What Should Employers Do?

At the moment, employers need to comply with the latest Government advice on workers’ health and safety. This is something that has been changing regularly, so it important to remain informed about the current situation.

One option for some companies is to allow their workers to carry out their jobs at home. However, in industries such as construction – where this isn’t possible – they have to make workplaces as secure as possible and communicate the changes to staff.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a list of frequently asked questions, covering issues such as whether employers should be carrying out testing on their workers. This issue really depends upon the type of work carried out and the type of premises.

Apart from that, the existing guidelines on matters like physical distancing and hygiene remain relevant. It shouldn’t be forgotten that established safety measures such as using a sturdy step unit and maintaining the good condition of machinery, remain as important ever.

Offering Psychological Help to Employees

Another point that is becoming increasingly relevant is the way that businesses offer psychological help to their employees. Even those businesses that meet all of the conditions for a safe working environment also need to bear in mind the mental issues to be overcome.

Remember that many workers spent the vast majority of the long lockdown period at home, and that going back to work could be a difficult period of adjustment for them. Employers should carry out training to show them the reasons for their new procedures and the effectiveness of them.

The task of getting everyone safely back to work isn’t simple, but companies can make it easier for their staff by understanding how coronaphobia may be affecting them and showing patience and understanding.