As an employer, you must carry out a COVID-19 Return to Work Risk Assessment to ensure the continued safety of your employees and others, such as customers, visitors and the general public.
It is a legal requirement for you to undertake health and safety risk assessments, and to document these where you have 5 or more employees. Risk assessments should also be reviewed regularly, and their effectiveness continually monitored.
I hope the following will provide you with some guidance on what you need to consider when formulating your Return to Work Risk Assessment. Further guidance can be obtained from the Gov.UK website.
No two businesses are the same and any risk assessment you carry out must be specific to your business.
Risk Assessment Guidance
Continue to follow government advice for self isolation https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Arrival, Parking & Getting Around Premises
- Stagger start, finish, change over, break times
- Clear signage of procedures for entering, exiting and moving around premises.
- Can a one-way system be implemented – premises layout may need altering. Ensure signage and floor markings are in place
- Consider leaving doors open to avoid repeated touching of door handles and key pads.
- Locate hand sanitiser/washing facilities at entrances/exits
Social Distancing & Workplace Dimensions
- Calculate the maximum occupancy of the workplace for employees to maintain the 2 metres rule. Consider removing furniture/equipment.
- Work areas should be prominently marked with tape/paint/signage
- Identify areas where employees may congregate
- Stagger break times
- Identify areas where space is limited and should only be accessed by one person at a time eg toilets, storage areas
Avoid Face to Face Working and Where Social Distancing Cannot Be Achieved
- Use of barriers or screens where social distancing is not possible
- Task based risk assessment should be completed where physical separation cannot be implemented
- Review layout of workstations and areas
- Limit frequency and duration of contact
- Remove hot desking and maintain working from home as much as possible
Teams and Job Rotation
- Where employees work in teams, members should remain the same and teams should be as small as possible
- Avoid shared workstations and areas as much as possible
- Avoid the use of shared equipment
- Where possible, assign employees specific activities and do not rotate if cross contamination is a risk
- Ensure soap and water is readily available
- Sanitiser to be provided in addition to handwashing
- Ensure constant supply of soap and sanitiser is available
- Display handwashing reminder signage prominently
- Use disposable paper hand towels or hand dryers
- Regularly empty rubbish bins of hand towels
- Locate additional sanitiser at ‘high touch’ areas such as photocopiers, printers
- All employees to wash hands at regular intervals prior to eating, smoking, drinking etc
- Increased frequency of cleaning for:
- – Taps & washing facilities
- – Toilet flush control & seats
- – Door handles and push plates
- – Hand rails
- – Welfare tables & chairs
- – Light switches
- Employees to clean their own workstation/area before and after each shift
- Cleaning procedure should be implemented for shared equipment such as tools, pallet trucks and vehicles.
- Employees should wash their hands before and after using shared equipment
Use of Kitchen, Canteen, Welfare Areas
- Stagger break times
- Hand cleaning facilities should be available
- Employees should sit at least 2 metres apart
- Employees should clean the area where they have been sitting
- All rubbish should be put straight into the bin
- Review workplace evacuation procedure – can social distancing still be maintained and does this allow sufficient time for evacuation
- Gloves to be worn when emptying bins and hands should be washed after handling waste
Working From Home
- This should continue wherever possible
- Homeworker risk assessment should be carried out
- Equipment provision
- Employees should be encouraged to take regular breaks and regularly ‘check in’ with colleagues
Metal Health and Wellbeing
- Provide mental health and wellbeing information and guidance to all employees
- Encourage open and regular communication with employees – update them on return to work plans, safety measures being implemented
- Encourage regular contact between colleagues particularly those working from home and those who live alone
- Allow extra time in breaks/shift change overs to allow employees to comply with additional handwashing procedures
Handling Goods Inward/Outward
- Employees handling items must use the appropriate gloves and wash/sanitise hands regularly.
- Clean handling equipment regularly
- Ensure welfare facilities are provided for drivers
- Encourage drivers to stay in vehicles where this does not compromise their safety
- Use single employees load or unload vehicles where safe, or use same pair of loaders when more than one person is required
- New handling equipment will require a risk assessment and appropriate training provided
The following should also be formally recorded:
- Workplace inspections
- Issuing of PPE
- Provision of Training
- Revised Evacuation Plans
- Additional Risk Assessments
- Notification of Suspected or Confirmed Infection
For more detailed advice, I would recommend contacting a Health and Safety consultant who specialises in this area. Please contact me for more information.
If you need help protecting your business during these unsettling times, please do not hesitate to contact me.