Risk Assessments for COVID-19: your responsibilities as a company

Health & Safety

As a company, it is your responsibility to protect people from harm. This includes taking sufficient measures to protect your employees and others from COVID-19. This is called a Coronavirus risk assessment and it’ll help you manage risk and protect your operations.

covid risk assessments

What’s a COVID-19 Risk Assessment?

All companies need to assess and manage the risks from COVID-19. This means you’re required by law to think about the risks your employees encounter and to do everything reasonably practicable to reduce them, recognising that you cannot eliminate the risk of transmission completely.

You must therefore make sure that a risk assessment has been undertaken to identify the measures needed to reduce the risks from the virus so far as is reasonably practicable. General information on how to make a workplace coronavirus-secure, including how to approach a coronavirus risk assessment, is provided by the HSE guidance on working safely.

A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in the workplace, and the role of others in supporting that.

The risk assessment will help you decide whether you’ve done everything you need to. Companies have a legal duty to consult their employees on health and safety in good time.

What are your responsibilities?

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum companies must do is:

  • Identify what could cause injury or illness in the organisation (hazards).
  • Decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk).
  • Take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk.

Records of the assessment should be simple and focused on controls. Outcomes should explain to others what they are required to do and help staff with planning and monitoring.

Who might be harmed and why?

Some of the categories that may be harmed within the remit of your operations include:

  • Workers
  • Customers
  • Clients
  • Contractors
  • Drivers coming to your company
  • Drivers going out for your company
  • Visitors

This can happen through for instance:

  • Contracting or transmitting coronavirus by not washing hands or not washing them adequately
  • Contracting or transmitting coronavirus in common use high traffic areas such as canteens, corridors, rest rooms, toilet facilities, entry/exit points to facilities, lifts, changing rooms and other communal areas
  • Contracting or transmitting coronavirus through workers living together and/or travelling to work together
  • Contracting or transmitting coronavirus by not cleaning surfaces, equipment and workstations
  • Contracting or transmitting coronavirus by not social distancing.

How can you prevent harm?

Some types of control are more effective at reducing risks than others. Risk reduction measures should be assessed in order of priority, you shouldn’t simply adopt the easiest control measure to implement.

Controls should be practical for implementation and, ideally, should be able to be maintained easily over time. It’s critical to remember that it will only rarely be feasible to eliminate individual risks completely.

The combination of controls introduced should aim to reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable and prioritise structural, environmental interventions over individual level ones. This does not just mean considering risks of transmission, but also balancing these against risks to wider health and wellbeing and to company operations.

You have the flexibility to respond to risks in a way that suits your circumstances, whilst complying with your duties under health and safety legislation.

Find out more

Do you need help in filling in a risk assessment and ensure you are legally compliant?  Contact us to find out more about our automated solutions to such issues in the workplace.  

References

What to include in your COVID-19 risk assessment

Risk assessment during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Tags
Coronavirus , COVID-19 , Health & Safety , risk assessment , workplace safety
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