Steve Kilburn

Member Article

How to complete a COVID Risk Assessment

Last week, Apple’s chief exec, Tim Cook, said that all staff will be asked to come to the office three days a week, with the option of remote working two days.

So as lockdown eases and more businesses are able to open their doors to customers, staff and contractors once again, there is an emphasis on us all taking responsibility to maintain and strengthen our resilience to this virus and the problems it causes. For businesses, this means a robust and detailed COVID risk assessment. But what do you need to consider?

Risk assessments are, by their nature, detailed, giving a business an overview of the hazards presented and the level of the risk involved. More importantly, it affords the opportunity to determine what measures need to be put in place to minimise or eliminate these risks.

Every business wants to avoid lockdown again, as far as is possible but without compromising on the safety of its people. And a COVID risk assessment is one tool at your disposal.

What should a COVID risk assessment cover?

We know a lot more about coronavirus now than we did when it first landed on our shores. For example, we know that the virus doesn’t move – we do that by either breathing infected droplets or touching contaminated surfaces and then touching another surface.

This is why wearing masks is commonplace, as well as maintaining a distance of 6 feet or more and indulging in thorough hand washing.

This is however the ideal situation and not one that can always be maintained. A COVID risk assessment will help to determine what needs to change and happen to maintain a safe working environment for everyone involved.

In your risk assessment, you’ll need to consider hazards such as:

  • Contracting or spreading the virus when handwashing is not adequate or not possible
  • Considering contracting or spreading the virus in high traffic areas
  • Contracting or spreading the virus with contaminated surfaces where cleansing is not possible, available or adequate
  • Not being able to maintain a social distance of 1 to 2 metres
  • The impact of homeworking on staff
  • Poor ventilation in workspaces and how this may contribute to ill health, including spreading the virus
  • The increased risk of contracting the virus amongst medically vulnerable staff
  • Returning to work after a prolonged period of lockdown
  • The key risk assessment questions

As with other risk assessments carried out, there are key questions that need to be answered:

  • WHO will be affected and HOW?
  • HOW will the risk be controlled?
  • What further actions do you need to take?
  • WHO will put these actions into place?
  • WHEN is action needed by?

However, what may complicate issues is that the advice and guidance from the UK Government are liable to change. Likewise, there are differences in some rules in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Does every business need a COVID risk assessment? It is not a pre-requisite or re-opening after lockdown but there is no denying its importance. Everyone wants to keep this virus at bay and we all have a part to play in preventing its spread through the population, including the workforce, customers, contractors and others.

Steve Kilburn, HSEQ Consultant at Synergos Consultancy Ltd.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Laura Batchelor .

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