Back in the middle of May the government released their COVID-19 secure guidelines. The idea behind the guidelines was to provide businesses and employees with an understanding of the topics to aide their decision making around how to restart their business or continue to work safely during the ongoing pandemic.
The release itself consisted of 8 guides covering a range of different types of work, rather than being industry specific. These guides included:
- Construction and other outdoor work – Although construction is the headline grabber, this guide is also aimed at the energy and utilities, farming and agriculture (including seasonal labour), forestry, waste management, other infrastructure, railway services and street and highway services. See full ‘Construction and other outdoor work’ guidance on gov.uk
- Factories, plants and warehouses – This covers all industrial environments such as manufacturing and chemical plants, food and other large processing plants, warehouses, distribution centres and port operations. See full ‘Factories, plants and warehouses’ guidance on gov.uk
- Labs and research facilities – This guide covers engineering centres, clean rooms, prototyping centres, wet labs, wind tunnels, computer labs, simulators, material development labs, specialist testing rooms. See full ‘Labs and research facilities’ guidance on gov.uk
- Offices and contact centres – Advice aims at working environments such as offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments. See full ‘Offices and contact centres’ guidance on gov.uk
- Other people’s homes for in-home workers – Such as repair services, fitters, meter readers, plumbers, cleaners, cooks and surveyors. See full ‘Other people’s homes’ guidance on gov.uk
- Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery – bars, pubs, cafes, takeaways, food delivery services or mobile catering. See full ‘Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery’ guidance on gov.uk
- Shops and branches – food, fashion, chemists, banks and post offices etc. See full ‘Shops and branches’ guidance on gov.uk
- Vehicles – The final guide looks at mobile workers including couriers, HGV drivers, on-site transit, etc. See full ‘Vehicles’ guidance on gov.uk
The guidelines require all employers to manage the risks of COVID-19 and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to the lowest reasonably practicable level by putting into place precautionary measures.
The legal basis that risk assessments are founded upon have not changed, the legislation is still the same. If you employ less than 5 workers, you will not be required to write anything down. However, once the risk assessment is complete you will need to explain the risks and preventative measures to your workforce. For those that employ 5 or more, you will need to record the findings of the risk assessment and share the findings of the risk assessment with your workforce.
The types of issues you would need to consider within your COVID-19 risk assessment include:
- Who should go to work?
- Protecting people who are at a higher risk
- Information and guidance
- Getting into and leaving work
- Work Area
- Moving around
- Common areas
- Good hygiene
- Driving for work
- Contractors, visitors and deliveries
Is there anything new?
Once you have completed your COVID-19 risk assessment the guidelines are asking you to do 2 new things:
1. The guidelines want you to consider publishing the results on your website if you have one (which becomes an expectation if you employ over 50 workers).
2. All businesses will need to display a notice in your workplace confirming 5 key points:
- You have completed a COVID-19 risk assessment
- You have adopted enhanced procedures for cleaning, handwashing and hygiene
- You have taken all steps to help people work from home
- You have taken reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance
- Where people cannot be 2m apart, you have done everything practical to manage the transmission risk See full ‘5 steps to working safely’ guidance on gov.uk
For organisations needing guidance on safely returning to work and health & safety risk assessment templates, Alcumus PSM have created a free COVID-19 Return to Work Guidance pack including free COVID-19 Health and Safety documents and free downloadable COSHH risk assessments from Alcumus Sypol.
“The ‘Reintroducing your people to work’ webinars and the additional free Risk Assessment guidance and documents have been invaluable at helping Suzohapp get prepared for when we can bring our colleagues back into the workplace as efficiently and safely as possible." commented Chrissie Brindle of Suzohapp (UK) Ltd.
Chrissie continued, “Alcumus have been a huge help in the quality of information they have freely shared at a time when something as unique as COVID-19 has been testing for many. Without the support from Alcumus this would have been a far more daunting and time-consuming task”. To help your business survive, then thrive, check out the full range of free COVID-19 solutions available from Alcumus.