How to COVID-19 risk assess your business is a key question right now. All businesses need to do it. Businesses with more than five employees must write it down. Businesses with more than 50 employees are expected to publish it online. What help is available for businesses and what is expected?
What free help is available for businesses?
There is a lot of good, free help available.
- “Covid secure” guidance published by the Government includes eight sets of guidelines. They cover construction and outdoor work, factories, plants and warehouses, homes, labs and research facilities. As well as offices and contact centres, other people’s homes, restaurants offering takeaway or delivery, shops and branches and those working with vehicles.
- The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has published risk assessment guidance. This highlights the steps businesses need to take to ensure their premises are safe to open. It is a concise three-page document with key questions to ask. Considerations to take into account to decide what action to take to minimise risk.
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website has templates and examples of risk assessments. This includes some industry-specific ones. It also has as further information on conducting general risk assessments.
- Don’t forget your industry’s professional organisations. These provide industry-specific advice and guidance. Check their websites!
What’s expected of businesses
This is a list of some key points and not an exhaustive list.
- The government has stated that employers, as part of their general duty, ‘need to carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for any other health and safety hazards’ that employees or others are exposed to’.
- Businesses with more than five employees should record the assessment and its outcomes
- Employers with more than 50 people will publish their risk assessment on their websites, and smaller organisations should do this too if possible.
- Businesses should consider redesigning workspaces to maintain social distancing, perhaps by staggering start times, one-way walkthroughs and more entrances and exits to avoid unnecessary contact.
- Where the two-metre rule cannot be followed. The new guidance says employers ‘should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another. Or ensuring colleagues are at least facing away from each other’.
- The business should clean workplaces more frequently. Particular focus is on high-contact objects including door handles and keyboards. Communal equipment controls in a bid to cut the risk of infection.
When businesses have completed their risk assessment and put in place measures to help prevent/reduce risk of COVID-19 they can display a notice. This is available on the Government’s website and informs people they have followed the Government guidance.
Article written by Lisa Dubow, Health and Safety Consultant at Rosecroft Health and Safety