A DARLINGTON health and safety specialist is reminding local employers that employee safety mus be a priority as more workspaces reopen after lockdown.

The chief executive of Productive Plus, whose clients include Thirteen Group, has expressed the importance of back to work health and safety and wellbeing checks after a Bupa Health Clinics survey of 2,000 people found that 65 per cent were anxious about returning to the office.

Harry Rowbotham, a wellness specialist who recently launched a platform to tackle productivity issues brought on by home working, says employers must plan for potential hazards related to coronavirus, as well as those stemming from workplace processes.

“Employers should be aware that the pandemic might have increased stress, fatigue, and distractions. This should be considered in the return to work to ensure operations resume in a safe manner," he said.

“Health and safety refreshers should be given while standard operating procedures should be updated. Remember that exposures to hazards may increase during shutdown and start up periods."

The 22-year-old warns employers against rapidly increasing production to make up for downtime as this may increase hazard risks.

He added: “Businesses may look to increase productivity in order to give the economy a jump start, but this must start with ensuring your staff are healthy before they walk through the door. It is just as important as planning for their first day back.

"Health checks are a simple way to catch issues, like stress, before they manifest themselves in the workplace.”