Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Some, including older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
As a business ourselves, we have obligations and a duty of care to protect our workforce during this uncertain time. The UK Government has released guidance on how to work safely during the Coronavirus pandemic. This necessitates an administrative, but entirely necessary and proportionate response from UK businesses, in the form of carrying out COVID-19 risk assessments, in consultation with workers and (if applicable) trade unions.
- The guidance operates within current health and safety laws and equality legislation. Employers must carry out Covid-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place.
- If possible, employers should also publish the results of the risk assessments on their website and it is expected that all businesses with more than 50 employees should do so.
At Mushroombiz, we have done some of the legwork for you by creating this DIY Risk Assessment template, along with a series of self-reflective questions (below) for you to apply to your organisation. This sets out the kind of things you should be focusing on to ensure you remain compliant with your duty of care to protect the health and safety of your business and its workforce.
Take care though: this is a generic, template Risk Assessment for dealing with the current COVID-19 situation in the workplace. It is not likely to cover all scenarios in your organisation, and each employer should consider their own unique circumstances.
Preparing my risk assessment:
The obvious question: where to start? How do I create a risk assessment? What form should it take? How do I analyse the risks and control measures required?
All these are important starting points. You will need to get granular and fully map, manage, and wherever possible mitigate potential risk factors and hazards.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
The following list is not exhaustive, and organisations are well advised to conduct their own independent reviews.
When completing your risk assessment, consider:
- How will the spread of the Coronavirus affect your organisation?
- Who might be harmed?
- Is each risk low, medium or high? How do you intend to calculate that risk?
- What can you do / what controls are appropriate to manage the risk identified?
- In terms of hygiene? What are your handwashing policies? Washing our hands is taken as a given by most (hopefully all) of us, so proper hygiene etiquette is crucial to contain the spread.
- Are alcohol / gel sanitizers readily available for the workforce?
- How are the premises cleaned?
- Are you requiring your workers to social distance in line with government guidance?
- What is the policy if people in your organisation develop symptoms? What processes are in place to identify / alert managers?
- Does your company rely on delivery drivers? How do you ensure they remain safe? i.e. not allowing workers to share vehicles.
- What about mental health of your staff? IS WFH (Working From Home) affecting them? Do you keep in regular contact with the staff members? Are team building exercises or even a virtual Friday night drinks event planned – we all need things to look forward to during these times and the importance of building a strong team ethic not only boosts morale but helps staff stay motivated.
Once you’ve identified the risks, you’ll need to decide what risk mitigation actions you need to take to minimise their likelihood and impact. Read more about the 4Ts of Risk Management in this handy article.
EVIDENCE YOUR FINDINGS:
It is important you document your decision-making process and keep it under review. You will in most circumstances be required to display a certificate in your workplace, stating you are COVID-19 SECURE.
We hope you have found this a guidance useful to help inform your decision-making. If you need more help or have any questions, take a look at the other options Mushroombiz has available here, give us a call on 0345 862 4123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe out there folks…