COVID 19 is a new disease which has caused a world wide pandemic with little warning. It has affected us all at home and at work and in many different ways. It is a key new risk to be captured by your organisation’s safety management systems.
At the moment, guidance is quite sparse, especially for some sectors, and the nature of the guidance is changing almost daily. It is hard to ensure that your systems meet best practice and are kept up to date. At the same time, businesses need to survive, and finding pragmatic ways of keeping people safe at work is very necessary.
Best solution if feasible is home working. This immediately raises a couple of points. If premises are now vacant or low occupancy, the legionella risks will rise and must be addressed. Also, your responsibilities for your workers do not go away because they are working from home. You have to assess the risks to them, and try to mitigate such risks as are under your control, just as you always did.
If you are working as a contractor, you are likely to have been asked for your COVID 19 risk assessment and method statement already. The more helpful clients have also provided guidance on producing these, or referred you to the government guidance on line.
If you have not yet done so, the time is now to write your COVID risk assessment and determine what measures are required as people go back to work. The form of the risk assessment doesn’t matter, but it should capture some main points:
- How will we keep people who may be infectious out of our workplace?
- How will we protect the particularly vulnerable?
- How will we achieve social distancing for staff and public?
- What washing hands provision have we?
- What Personal Protective Equipment do we need to provide?
- How will we dispose of potentially infected waste?
- What do we do when social distancing cannot be achieved?
- What rules or method statements will we provide for staff?
- What adjustments can be made to our cleaning regimes for potentially contaminated surfaces?
- What welfare provision changes may be needed?
If you’ve been thinking of employing a consultant to assist with your health and safety duties, we’ve provided constant support and updating ever since March on this matter for our Safety Adviser Service clients. We’ve helped with or actually written risk assessments and method statements, dealt with Client queries, and advised on particular circumstances. It’s good to have trustworthy support at a difficult time.