COVID-19: Returning to Work Safely
COVID-19: Return to Work Risk Assessment
As the UK returns to work under the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, are you unsure how to make your workplace safe under the cloud of coronavirus? As a business owner or manager, do you need help protecting your staff and customers against COVID-19? Or perhaps you need help carrying out a return to work risk assessment?
To help you through this difficult time the government has produced guidance on what you need to do to reduce the risks of getting back to work under the cloud of Coronavirus. The guidance has 5 main steps and we will take you through them below.
Let us help you back to work
You may prefer to take confidence in using a qualified expert with years of Health & Safety experience to walk you through the required steps at this crucial phase of returning to work safely.
Our service includes:
- Discussion of your working environment either in person, via video call or telephone to establish the challenges faced in your particular business.
- We will assess the hazards the virus presents in your workplace and any existing methods of controlling transmission.
- We will develop a written Return to Work Risk Assessment specific to your working environment which will address the hazards with further control measures to reduce the risk of transmission.
Government Guidance on Returning to Work
Step One: Carry Out a Risk Assessment
The first step is to carry out a risk assessment which is specific to your workplace. The purpose of a risk assessment in this scenario is to reduce the chances of harm from coronavirus to people in your workplace. If you have more than 5 employees, it is legal requirement to carry out a written risk assessment, but it is a good idea to write it down even if you have less than 5 employees.
The basic process is as follows:
- Identify the hazards that could cause harm to people.
In this case we are dealing with the exposure of people to coronavirus. Look at how and where staff or customers may be exposed to the virus and what harm it could do to them.
- Assess the risk of harm being done to anyone exposed to the virus.
This means working out the likelihood of someone being exposed to the hazard and how seriously it could affect them. Decide how likely it is that someone in your workplace could encounter another person carrying the virus, how seriously they could be affected by COVID-19. Then look at how that might happen and what measures might be already in place to reduce the chances of contacting the virus.
- Control the Hazard.
Ideally, you’d eliminate the hazard completely but if that’s not possible then you should introduce measures to reduce the risk of the hazard. As well as existing measures that may be in place to prevent the spread of the virus, you should consider what you can put in place to reduce the risks further. Look at preventing contact with sources of the virus with the use of PPE, measures to encourage social distancing and the use of barriers and a thorough cleaning regime.
- Record your Findings.
If you have more than 5 employees then you must record your assessment of the risks of exposure to coronavirus. This means writing down what are the potential hazards are, who might be harmed by them, what you are planning to on doing to control the hazard and reduce the risks further.
You can use this sample risk assessment template or we can carry out a bespoke risk assessment tailored specifically to your business.
Please get in touch or call 0800 068 0188 for help.
Step Two: Develop a Hygiene Routine
Cleanliness and hygiene are essential tools in the battle against COVID-19. To protect people at your workplace, you should develop new cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. These include:
Encouraging your staff and customers to practice regular had washing by following the NHS guidance on handwashing.
- As well as in bathrooms, make sure hand sanitizer is readily available throughout the workplace.
- Objects and surfaces that are touched often should be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis.
- Busy areas of a workplace should be cleaned more regularly.
- Provide adequate hand washing and drying facilities with the provision of paper towels or electric hand dryers.
Step Three: Help People to Work from Home
If possible, you should help people to work from home by providing the right equipment and discussing their working arrangements and wellbeing.
Step Four: Maintain Appropriate Social Distancing
If possible, you should always maintain a distance of 2 meters between people as this is an effective way of preventing the spread of the virus. You can do this by:
- Putting up clear signage to remind people to keep to 2m social distancing.
- Use tape or paint on the floor at 2-meter intervals to remind people to keep their distance.
- If possible, introduce a one-way system marked out on the floor to reduce instances of people walking across each other.
- Try to see visitors on an appointment only basis to reduce the number of people visiting the workplace at one time.
Step Five: Manage Transmission Risks
Where social distancing is not possible and people cannot be 2-meters apart to carry out their work, you should do everything practical to manage the risk of transmission of the virus. This could involve:
- Considering if the activity is essential to the business and if not, stopping that activity.
- Reducing the time spent carrying out that particular activity.
- Making use of screens or barriers between the people to prevent transmission of the virus.
- Organising for people to work back-to back or side-to-side.
- Staggering arrival and departure times to prevent people coming in close contact with each other.
- Reducing the number of people that have contact with each other by using smaller teams.