HSE Weekly Digest: Returning to work during the pandemic - 14/5/21

14th May 2021

This latest edition focuses on work-related stress to mark Mental Health Awareness Week and there is advice on supporting people returning to work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

There are also links to a range of COVID-19 related advice and information, details of guidance about having health surveillance in place where required, and you can find out about the latest enforcement action taken by HSE.

For all the latest health and safety updates visit our website.

Returning to work during the pandemic

Coming back to work after time away during the pandemic may be difficult for some people.

If workers have been away from the business for prolonged periods they may have experienced a decline in ability or proficiency.

They may need additional time and support to get back to pre-pandemic performance.

We have published guidance on returning to work which can help you talk to your workers and provide the right support. It includes:

  • Who should go to work?
  • Returning to work after a lockdown or other closure
  • How you can help your workers if they’re worried about returning to work
  • Questions to help you talk about working at home or returning to work

More information on keeping your workplace safe as coronavirus restrictions are eased is available on our website and further guidance is available for England, Scotland and Wales.

COVID-19 guidance and updates

HSE's website has all the latest coronavirus-related guidance and information, as well as updating previously published content.

For a full range of COVID-related information and advice visit HSE’s coronavirus pages. This includes information on:

Mental Health Awareness Week is a reminder of the need to support those who are feeling the strain during the pandemic. One in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point.

There are six main causes of stress: demands, control, support, relationships, role and change.

Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. The earlier a problem is identified and tackled the less impact it will have. 

HSE has a range of practical support and guidance available to support mental health and wellbeing at work. This includes:

  • risk assessment templates for stress
  • talking toolkits to help start conversations with your colleagues 
  • workbooks
  • posters
  • For more information visit the stress section of HSE's website.

  • a mobile app 

  • an automated stress indicator tool

Find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week and why nature has been chosen as this year’s theme.

Make sure you have health surveillance in place where necessary

Health and safety law requires health surveillance for some health risks.

Health surveillance is a scheme of repeated health checks which are used to identify ill health caused by work.

Health and safety law requires health surveillance when your workers remain exposed to health risks after you have put controls in place.

Our recently updated health surveillance webpages have advice on:

Managing the risk Consulting workers about health surveillance Understanding what type of health surveillance your business needs Setting up a health surveillance scheme Acting on the results of health surveillance

Builder receives prison sentence for failing to report a serious incident

A builder has been imprisoned for 24 weeks after he failed to report a serious incident at a construction site he was in charge of.

A worker had been clearing a site with an excavator so a new house could be built. The excavator tipped while digging and it trapped the worker's leg, resulting in an amputation. The incident was not reported to the HSE within ten days as required and the defendant had not investigated the incident

Read this press release for full details on this prosecution.


The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 – RIDDOR put duties on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises (the Responsible Person) to report certain serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses).

Other recent enforcement news includes: