Last week we provided an update on the government’s ‘COVID-19 Secure’ guidelines published for employers to help you resume your business and ensure your workplaces operate as safely as possible. Businesses who may already have returned to work, or plan to return to work imminently, must carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment.
We highlight some key points relating to COVID-19 risk assessments below:
– All employers were under an existing duty in accordance with the regulations made under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, to conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of all the work activities carried out by their employees. Employers should mitigate any risks identified before employees return to work;
– All risk assessments should be reviewed regularly in any event. In light of the coronavirus pandemic and return to work guidance, employers must carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment as soon as practical;
– We recommend reviewing your existing risk assessments to take COVID-19 into account, ensuring that you consider all possible transmission scenarios in existing work practices, as well as considering new situations impacted by the pandemic. For example, for businesses operating in the City, considering guidance issued by the government and Transport for London, and the “Streetspace for London” project for those who must use public transport to travel to work;
– The risk assessment should be carried out in consultation with workforces and/or trade unions to establish what guidelines to put in place – employees are best placed to understand the practical realities and difficulties of working;
– If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website (and all businesses with 50+ employees are expected to do this); and
– Employers should download and display a notice stating it has complied with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19, including that it has carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and shared the results with the people who work for them.
We strongly encourage businesses to carefully read in full the practical guidance issued in respect of their sector, for example:
– factories, plants, and warehouses
– offices and contact centres
The guidelines provide practical guidance on how to work safely in eight different types of workplaces, including construction, factories and warehouses, labs and research facilities, offices and contact centres, restaurants offering takeaway services, and shops.
Employers should be aware that the Health and Safety Executive has already received over 7,500 complaints about unsafe workplaces, see our update here. It is imperative that you can clearly show the risk assessment process that you have followed and updated risk assessment documents.
If you are an employer who has concerns about updating your risk assessment to ensure it is COVID-19 secure compliant, please do get in touch.