Occupational Health and Safety in the Context of the Coronavirus Pandemic

  Person working with a notebook in a home environment Copyright: © Martin Braun  

The Covid 19 pandemic that broke out at the beginning of 2020 has presented the entire working world with new challenges. Within a very short time, companies had to react to the new social realities and the regulations introduced by politicians to curb the number of infections. The widespread provision of protective equipment (face masks and disinfectants) was the result, but also drastic changes in the work organization of many companies. With the aim of reducing face-to-face contacts as much as possible, industrial companies restructured shift schedules, while in the tertiary sector in particular, many workers moved to home offices. Both the companies' internal communication and contact with business partners and customers had to be carried out via digital channels.

While these drastic developments represent an opportunity for progress and innovation, they also create new problems that need to be understood and addressed. A central point here is that established standards of occupational health and safety continue to exist. Companies are confronted with the challenge of reacting quickly and effectively to the new challenge, while at the same time complying with new and existing occupational health and safety regulations and applicable in-house agreements. The task is both to identify appropriate strategies for dealing with the pandemic and to anticipate/determine which of these strategies can strengthen occupational health and safety in the company in the long term. The aim of our research is to find out how the operational changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic affect occupational health and safety in companies, in order to develop sustainable solutions together with the companies and to provide scientific support for the implementation and testing of the effectiveness of these solutions.