The World Steel Association (worldsteel) has rescheduled its Steel Safety Day from 28 April (aligned with the International Labour Organisation’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work) to 21 October in order to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 at steel-producing sites.

According to Andrew Purvis, worldsteel's director, safety, health and environment, It is important to say that this is not because safety or frequent interactions with employees and contractors about safety are less necessary now than before the pandemic.

Purvis added that these are extraordinary times. "People are worried, distracted, and steel plants may be operating at reduced capacity or with reductions in staffing" and that these conditions will introduce other safety hazards and risks that need to be addressed and controlled effectively in addition to health risks due to the virus itself.

"Leaders must maintain an absolute focus on safety and communicate intensively with staff and contractors," Purvis said, adding that communication should be carried out in a way that respects social distancing and any legal requirements that have been imposed.

"If staff are remote working, it is also important to consider their mental wellbeing and to stay in touch," advised Purvis. "In many parts of the world, schools are closed and parents find themselves balancing their professional responsibilities with new roles as full-time educators and carers".

Steel Safety Day was established to increase the number of interactions between steelworkers on safety-related topics, and typically involves large scale audits, walk arounds, workshops and communal gatherings.

In 2019, Steel Safety Day audits took place at 820 sites around the world, with more than 463,000 employees and contractors directly taking part.

"At a time when an increasing number of governments are advising or mandating social distancing, worldsteel does not feel it is appropriate to continue with Steel Safety Day as planned for now," Purvis concluded.