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Last updated: 16 Jun 2021
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How to make your workplace COVID-19 secure

Before employees return to the workplace, employers have a duty of care to ensure they’re providing a COVID-secure working environment. Here we advise on how to carry out a COVID-19 workplace risk assessment and the steps to take to create a safe workplace. 
What should a COVID-19 workplace risk assessment include?

What should a COVID-19 workplace risk assessment include?

It’s a reality that at present every workplace continues to face the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Though it is hoped on 19 July the government will be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact, beyond this point, there will still be measures employers must undertake to make their working environment as COVID-secure as possible. To do this, the risks of transmission need to be identified, assessed and then avoided or reduced.  A risk assessment should:   

  • identify what work activity and/or situations might cause transmission of the virus;
  • consider who could be at risk, including those who may be more at risk of being infected and/or who may experience an adverse outcome if infected;
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed; and
  • act to remove the work activity and/or situations, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk. This may include practical measures such as putting in place social distancing measures, staggering shifts and providing additional handwashing facilities. 

A risk assessment should also include an employee’s travel to and from work, taking into consideration that current government guidance is to avoid the use of public transport, particularly during peak times.

About the author

Sarah Dalton

daltons@buzzacott.co.uk

What should a COVID-19 workplace risk assessment include?

It’s a reality that at present every workplace continues to face the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Though it is hoped on 19 July the government will be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact, beyond this point, there will still be measures employers must undertake to make their working environment as COVID-secure as possible. To do this, the risks of transmission need to be identified, assessed and then avoided or reduced.  A risk assessment should:   

  • identify what work activity and/or situations might cause transmission of the virus;
  • consider who could be at risk, including those who may be more at risk of being infected and/or who may experience an adverse outcome if infected;
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed; and
  • act to remove the work activity and/or situations, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk. This may include practical measures such as putting in place social distancing measures, staggering shifts and providing additional handwashing facilities. 

A risk assessment should also include an employee’s travel to and from work, taking into consideration that current government guidance is to avoid the use of public transport, particularly during peak times.

Government guidelines

What are the government guidelines on creating a COVID-19 secure workplace?

To support employers in creating COVID-19 secure workplaces, the government has published fourteen guides on working safely during coronavirus, with each guide focusing on a different type of work environment. It’s a legal requirement for employers to follow this guidance, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are performing spot inspections to make sure employers are putting appropriate measures in place. If employers are found to have not carried out an adequate risk assessment, the HSE can issue an enforcement notice to stop unsafe workplace activities.

Communicating safety measures to employees

Communicating safety measures to employees

Once a risk assessment has taken place, employers should share the results with their workforce and provide their employees with as much information as possible on how they are mitigating any risks. All employers with over 50 employees are also expected to publish the results of their risk assessment on their website. Sharing the results of a COVID-19 risk assessment should not only make employees feel safe at work, but it may also encourage them to take an active role in managing risks. Line managers should be fully briefed and able to answer employees' questions about returning to work and the measures in place to protect safety. It could be helpful to create a policy or an FAQ document which sets out the measures and processes that must be followed. 

 

 View guidance on what to do if an employee does not feel comfortable returning to the office. 

Speak to an expert

If you need advice on how to create a COVID-secure workplace, from whatever stage you are at presently, get in touch to see how we can help.  

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