COVID-19 Risk Assessments
Further to the Governments announcements recently there has been a whole raft of information and guidance documents thrown at businesses in an effort to help them get back to work safely during COVID-19. They prompt all different angles of considerations for varying business types from working within people’s homes to manufacturing and construction.
COVID-19 Risk Assessments
COVID-19 Specific Health & Safety
COVID-19 Specific Health & SafetyFurther to the Governments announcements recently there has been a whole raft of information and guidance documents thrown at businesses in an effort to help them get back to work safely during COVID-19. They prompt all different angles of considerations for varying business types from working within people’s homes to manufacturing and construction.
One thing I did notice was that the HSE have been given an additional 10% of their annual funding, to provide them with enough equipment and additional inspectors to ensure businesses are adequately managing their COVID specific health and safety responsibilities… This of now means that they will be ramping up their business, following up complaints and visiting businesses which in turn could mean additional cost (fees for intervention).
HSE Expectations for COVID-19
The HSE has laid the expectation of all businesses to publish their COVID Secure risk assessments on their websites where possible, and for businesses over 50 employees strong, this is a ‘must’.
With that in mind the first thing in this case would be that those with responsibility (i.e. Managing Directors, Company Owners, Operations Managers etc.) must start with writing a COVID-19 risk assessment. Sounds easy, but new starters and others may have never completed one and might not know where to start! I totally appreciate that and hope this article will be of help. Call it a step by step guide perhaps.
- Firstly, get a piece of paper! (old school, or get on the computer).
- Write down a list in a column entitled ‘Who can be harmed and How’. This will contain the people that you have responsibility for and how they may become contaminated or may spread the virus. Depending on your business type you must consider writing things like: General staff in contact with other people when travelling to work (e.g. via train, shared car or van etc), construction workers in contact with other workers or nearby trades whilst at work, staff having their lunch break in a canteen in close proximity to other people, staff in contact with patients or vulnerable people (or those who may have the virus), contact with contaminated family members at home, contact with contaminated work equipment or surfaces, contact with other people or products entering into the work space (visitors, delivery drivers, deliveries etc), your First Aiders having contact with any casualties or the level of hand washing facilities available, tissues, or hand sanitiser whilst at work. Note: Usually with health and safety law, employers or those with responsibility are not asked to consider how their staff travel/get to work, however during this pandemic us health and safety advisers have been asked to make sure that this consideration is in place because you as an employer with a critical business, are asking your staff to come to work where the risk is very real.
- Now that stage is completed, write a second column entitled ‘Controls’ i.e. what you can do to stop the contracting or spread of the virus with those you are responsible for. Don’t forget to include the government advice you may be following such as all those who can work from home should in the first instance, plus any social distancing of 2m followed at all times, following self-isolation guidance for you and household members, not allowing those over 70 or in the vulnerable groups to be at work.
- Adding different ways of working should be considered, staggered shifts, part time work, additional screens installed to protect workers where distancing isn’t possible.
- First Aiders might need additional equipment or a change in procedures should they need to carry out CPR because you wouldn’t want them giving mouth to mouth during this pandemic or having direct contact. You might need to ask some First Aiders to step down if they are at all vulnerable and change hygiene protocols around gloves and disposal of equipment. Other ways you can protect staff is by increasing cleaning of all work equipment, staggering or closing use of eating and rest areas; making sure hand washing facilities are well stocked with soap and maybe providing sanitiser stations and wipes throughout the workplace.
- Lastly, don’t forget to include what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) you are providing (please be exact, don’t just put ‘gloves’ for example) and make sure they are the right type so it will protect enough (it would be no good providing material gloves that need washing rather than disposable Nitrile ones).
Consultation with your Workforce
Next, show and consult with your workforce to see if they have any helpful suggestions to work safely from a practical point of view…. I would leave this a day and review it, there are bound to be things that come to mind after this brainstorm!
Just must make sure that you can follow up on your ‘Controls’, there is no point writing them unless you can do them. Then ask yourself ‘Would it have been ‘reasonably practicable’ (HSE jargon for possible) to have done more? Have I protected myself from legal and moral blame?’
Once this is complete, you can display, sign and date the ‘COVID-19 Secure’ signage at your premises to demonstrate your commitment to following the guidance provided.
If you need help, don’t forget to call me! I can offer a COVID-19 risk assessment service, or simply review and look over your one if you need some confidence in it. I look forward to hearing from you.