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COVID-19 RISK ASSESSMENT TEMPLATE FAQS

29th June 2020

Why do I need to complete a Covid-19 risk assessment?

 

There are three primary reasons why a Covd-19 risk assessment should be completed:

 

  1. It follows the UK Government’s Working Safely During Coronavirus The first part sets out “5 Steps to Working Safely” and the first step is to carry out a risk assessment.

 

  1. It demonstrates compliance with health and safety legislation. Health and Safety legislation has not been suspended because of the Coronavirus pandemic.  Employers still have a duty to reasonable steps to prevent employees from being exposed to risks whilst at work.   This includes taking reasonable action to prevent exposure to Covid‑19 risks in the workplace.

 

  1. Most importantly of all, it is a very useful way of making rational and structured decisions about risk and how to ensure the safety of employees, customers and others when you return to work and as the pandemic evolves.

 

Why do I need to involve employees with the assessment?

 

UK Government guidance states that the risk assessment should be carried out in consultation with employees.  There are two primary reasons for this:

 

  1. Risk assessments are often carried out by managers, safety advisers or consultants; they do not always understand the risks that employees actually face. Therefore, involving employees ensures that valuable insight is included in the risk assessment process.  This is true for all risk assessments, not just Covid-19 assessments.

 

  1. The result of a plethora of fear-inducing stories in the media and contradictory reports about how contagious the virus is and how to deal with it has resulted in a considerable amount of anxiety about coronavirus. Therefore it is likely that some, if not many, of your employees will have some deep seated fears about returning to work.  Therefore involving employees with the risk assessment process helps to dispel any fears they might have by providing a means of collectively deciding on controls.

 

How do I use the template to complete an assessment?

 

Completing a risk assessment on blank piece of paper for a new a subject can be difficult, to say the least.  Therefore we have created the Covid-19 risk assessment template to give employers a head start.

 

The template is not a completed assessment; we cannot do your assessment for you.  However the template does provide you with a starting point.  It contains some of the things you should consider and has collated various sources of guidance to form suggestions on the controls you could put in place.

 

It is important to remember that the template is a starting point only.  You still need to go through the risk assessment process and involve employees, however the template will make the task easier.

 

 

 

Why is the content so general?

 

There are so many different trades, occupations, workplaces, employee groups and organizations that it is impossible to create a suit of sector-specific risk assessment templates. We have therefore produced a general template that is applicable to most work places. Some of the content will be directly relevant to you and some of it won’t. You will need to go through the template to delete what is irrelevant and add in hazards and controls we have not included or things that are specific to your sector, workplace or employees.

 

Do I need to do implement all the controls that are described on the template?

No, some may be too onerous for a small organization with limited resources. Some may not be relevant to what you do. The controls are suggestions that have been provided to give you a head start with completing the assessment. Only you know which ones are relevant which ones are realistic for your workplace and how you need to direct your resources to implement appropriate Covid-19 controls.

 

Why does the template not have means for calculating a numerical risk rating?

There is no single ‘approved’ method of completing a risk assessment. Some methods use risk ratings based on assigning numerical values to the probability of a hazard causing harm and the severity of the likely harm.  This can be very useful if you have multiple complex risks that need to be prioritized into a substantial action plan. However it is not necessary when you have a list of straightforward risks.  If you accurately complete the “who can be harmed and how” column on the assessment form then severity and probability ratings are redundant.

If you have your own risk assessment form then you can easily copy and paste the content from our template onto your form.

Whatever system is used, the assessment needs to be suitable and sufficient. The HSE states that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment should show that:

  • a proper check was made
  • you asked who might be affected
  • you dealt with all the obvious significant risks, taking into account the number of people who could be involved
  • the precautions are reasonable, and the remaining risk is low
  • you involved your workers or their representatives in the process

https://www.hse.gov.uk/managing/delivering/do/profiling/the-law.htm

 

 

 

What do I do once the assessment is completed?

Once you have completed an assessment, make it available to all employees and anyone else who may be affected by your activities. You can do this by providing a copy to each employee, or emailing a link if a copy is held on a shared file. Copies are usually provided to third parties upon request.

Government guidance states that employers with more than 50 employees are expected to publish their risk assessment on their own website.

Once you have implemented your actions then you should compete and display the following notice:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5eb97021d3bf7f5d43765cbf/staying-covid-19-secure-accessible.pdf

 

Will I be prosecuted if I don’t carry out an assessment and don’t implement controls?

Duties imposed by health and safety legislation remain in place, despite the pandemic. Employers must continue to manage and control workplace risks, including the risk of Covid-19 being introduced to, or being spread within, in the workplace.

Therefore a lack of an assessment and a failure to control Covid-19 occupational risks has the potential to result in enforcement action. The type of action taken will be dependent upon a number of factors; however prosecution is usually reserved for the most serious breaches of health and safety legislation.

An employer who has completed a suitable and sufficient risk assessment in consultation with their employees and has followed Government guidance on working safely and reducing risks in the workplace is unlikely to be the subject of a prosecution.

 

Where do I go for further information?

Guidance is updated on a regular basis as our collective knowledge of Covid-19 increases and is refined. Therefore it is vitally important to keep abreast of any changes by visiting the following websites:

UK Government guidance on working safely during the pandemic, including sector-specific guidance for:

  • Construction and other outdoor work; Guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.
  • Factories, plants and warehouses
  • Labs and research facilities
  • Offices and contact centres: Guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments.
  • Other people’s homes; Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people’s homes.
  • Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
  • Shops and branches
  • Vehicles: Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

 

Scottish Government Guidance:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-1-returning-to-work/

 

Welsh Government Guidance:

https://gov.wales/workplace-guidance-employers-and-employees-covid19

 

HSE Northern Ireland

https://www.hseni.gov.uk/topic/covid-19-advice-and-guidance-places-work

 

NHS Guidance (general)

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

 

NHS Scotland

https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19

 

NHS Wales:

https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/

 

Health and Social Care Northern Ireland:

http://online.hscni.net/

 

HSE webpage, including updates:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/working-safely-during-coronavirus-outbreak.htm

 

HSE Guidance document:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/assets/docs/working-safely-guide.pdf

 

 

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