Have you done your Risk Assessment?

Before being able to consider returning to operational activity employers must make their workplace safe for returning employees. Conducting a risk assessment will be key in this process.  Furthermore, the Government has issued an additional instruction that the results of the risk assessment must be shared and published both with the workforce and online for the general public for businesses with more than 50 workers.

But what needs to be included in the risk assessment? Businesses must think about premises, people, processes, equipment, policies and procedures. An understanding of how the virus spreads provides a good foundation for areas to focus on:

  • it can be spread by droplets, which are predominantly transmitted through coughing and sneezing – but also singing and shouting.
  • it is also spread through surfaces. When a person sneezes or coughs, droplets land on surfaces (for example, desks and computer keyboards). A person touches the surface and it spreads onto their hands, putting them at risk when they touch their face or eyes – and others when they touch other surfaces.

Employers must remember that it isn’t just the workplace itself that holds risk for employees but also the commute to and from work. Travel issues will be a concern where social distancing cannot be assured.

If your workplace has increased potential for person-to-person contact, such as when manual lifting in pairs or teams, or will pose difficulties in maintaining social distancing of at least one metre, this could carry additional risk.

Creating a risk assessment 

Identify hazards in the workplace. This should include transmission, moving and handling, and chemicals in cleaning products used to deep clean the workplace. Frequent hand washing could also lead to dermatitis, which is something that should be considered and factored into potential hazards.

Consider who could be harmed and how they might be harmed. Think about hazards both in and out of the workplace -groups of people and how that harm might arise – for example, people working together.

Evaluate the risk. “What is the likelihood of harm happening and what strategies will reduce the harm?

Record your findings and reflect.

Review it. The risk assessment it should be treated as a living strategy and should be kept under constant review. What has changed? What policies are needed?


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