COVID-19, also commonly known as coronavirus, is a new virus that affects the lungs and airways. Symptoms can be mild, moderate, severe or fatal.
This risk assessment will address the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace. It is not likely to cover all scenarios and should be reviewed and updated to reflect any emerging legislative and published good practice guidance by the government and associated public bodies.
To keep up to date with government advice to the adult social care workforce, please visit www.gov.uk/search/all?organisations%5B%5D=department-of-health-and-social-care&order=updated-newest&parent=department-of-health-and-social-care.
Restrictions have been reduced, and the government has provided guidance on how, when workplaces open (and they can safely do so), processes must be in place to measure the effective reproduction number, referred to as the R number. The R number signifies the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus to. The government has produced specific guidance around working safely in an office environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected that the guidance will be updated over time. The guidance can be accessed at www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/offices-and-contact-centres.
Every employer has a legal responsibility to protect employees and others from risks to their health and safety and to do everything reasonably practicable to minimise the risk, whilst also recognising that they cannot completely eliminate the risk that COVID-19 poses.
COVID-19 Office Risk Assessment
|Who might be harmed and how?||Employees, visitors, cleaners and vulnerable groups (including those with existing or underlying health conditions) may become infected with COVID-19, which could seriously affect their wellbeing.|
|Controls Required||Additional Controls||To be actioned by||Date to be actioned||Date Actioned|
|Office-based employees to be encouraged to work from home wherever reasonably possible and in accordance with operational priorities and business continuity
Split working to be in place for office-based employees until it is deemed safe to ease these measures (i.e. when R is significantly reduced in the local area)
Employees assessed as clinically vulnerable and at higher risk of severe illness (e.g. those with existing medical conditions) are to be supported to work from home wherever possible.
An office working roadmap that identifies a phased return for employees to the office environment should be in place
|Social distancing guidelines are to be implemented as set out by the government (two metres).
To mitigate immediate risks to safety, in the event of an emergency or fire, social distancing rules will not apply.
Employees are to adhere to the government guidelines around self-isolation if either they or a member of their household displays COVID-19 symptoms. Employees who are self-isolating will be enabled to work from home safely.
Desk arrangements should allow for social distancing and encourage employees to be back to back and side to side, rather than working face to face. Desks must also be an appropriate distance away from office walkways.
Hot-desking is not permitted during the pandemic.
All office-based employees will be provided with a designated workspace area. It is preferable that a workspace is only used by the designated person.
Glass screens or other suitable partitions between desks are to be provided.
Communal sharing of stationery should be avoided.
All waste bins must be lined to ensure that they can be emptied without touching the contents.
Workplace space, including communal areas, kitchen and printer areas should be managed to ensure that social distancing rules are observed.
Employees are encouraged to bring packed lunches to work rather than preparing meals within the communal kitchen.
Face-to-face meetings are only to be held if absolutely necessary and with the minimum number of people required. Where face-to-face meetings are arranged, these will be kept as brief as possible and social distancing rules will apply.
Where shared desk space is used, the area should be wiped down with suitable sanitiser immediately after the meeting has ended.
Conference calls, Skype and other media to be adopted accordingly.
Consideration is to be given on entering and leaving the workplace. For example, ensuring that people entering/leaving are staggered and using stairs, mobility permitting. Where lifts are used, there should be no more than one person in the lift at any one time.
Employees are discouraged to share cars when travelling to, from or during work. Non-essential travel should be minimised, with remote options considered where appropriate.
Unless absolutely necessary, employees should avoid using public transport when travelling to, from and during work. If public transport is used, consideration should be given to wearing a face mask or face covering and carrying a personal alcohol hand gel.
Employees, visitors and contractors within the office will be carefully managed to ensure that social distancing rules and infection prevention controls can be applied safely.
Where deliveries are accepted into the office, after receiving the delivery and handling any items, the person should ensure that they follow appropriate hand washing/sanitising guidelines.
Management will continue to engage and communicate with those employees returning to an office environment, specifically around the working arrangements and practices detailed within this risk assessment.
|All employees and visitors
All employees and visitors
|Hand washing facilities should be available with liquid soap and water in place.
Hand sanitising stations present in:
The office entrance; the toilet; the training room
Stringent hand washing should be in place in accordance with Public Health England guidelines.
Hand washing guidance is available at www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands.
Hands should be dried with disposable paper towels or a hand dryer if paper towels are not available.
Employees are to apply their own skin emollient to protect the skin against damage caused by frequent handwashing.
Alcohol gel hand sanitisers should be made available in any area where washing facilities are not readily available, including where visitors are required to sign in.
|Employees and all visitors to the office will sanitise their hands upon entering the office and at all other designated sanitising stations.
Employees will be reminded on a regular basis to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, and be reminded of the importance of proper drying, preferably with paper towels.
To reduce the spread of germs when coughing or sneezing, employees should cover their mouths and nose with a tissue or their sleeve (not their hands) if they don’t have a tissue, and discard the tissue in the bin immediately. Employees will then wash their hands immediately or use a hand sanitising gel.
Paper towels will be made available throughout the workplace.
Employees should follow the NHS guidelines on ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’. Poster available at www.england.nhs.uk/south/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2017/09/catch-bin-kill.pdf.
Employees should avoid touching their face, eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands.
Employees are encouraged to report any problems, including any low stock levels of sanitiser and carry out skin checks as part of their personal skin surveillance programme. Guidance is available at www.hse.gov.uk/skin/professional/health-surveillance.htm.
Employees are to be reminded to access public health advice, information and updates via www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance.
Posters, leaflets and other materials are available to download at www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19.
|Frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, particularly in areas of high use (such as door handles, light switches and the reception area) using appropriate cleaning products and methods.||In addition to the end-of-day cleaning regimes carried out by external cleaners, employees are to take responsibility for reasonable tidiness and cleaning of their workspace and ensuring that cups and utensils are removed to the kitchen and placed in the dishwasher during and at the end of the day.
Adequate cleaning products will be made available, including wipes to clean IT equipment, telephones, etc.
Communal telephones, kettle handles, fridge handles and other shared equipment should be wiped with an antibacterial wipe after each use.
Periodic checks will be carried out by line managers to ensure that the necessary procedures are being followed.
|Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)|
|Where employees are already using PPE as part of their work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, they should continue to do so.||In accordance with government advice, within an office environment the use of additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial. This is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk from those you normally face in the workplace, and it therefore needs to be managed through social distancing and effective infection control measures rather than through PPE.
Please note that this does not apply to employees providing care in the community. For these employees, full PPE guidance is provided in the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Scenario Matrix.
If individual employees feel that they are at a greater risk of COVID-19 transmission, they should discuss the use of PPE with their line manager.
There are some circumstances when the use of face coverings may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect the individual, although it may protect others if someone is infected but has not developed symptoms. If employees feel that a face covering would be beneficial to them, this should be discussed with their line manager.
|Symptoms of COVID-19|
|If an employee becomes unwell with a new continuous cough or a high temperature in the workplace, they will be sent home and advised to follow the government’s stay at home guidance.||Employees will have access to a temperature monitoring device at the employee sign-in point, enabling them to monitor their temperature. Employees will be required to scan their forehead with the device and record their temperature when signing in each morning (full instructions will be provided). In situations where the temperature reading signifies a fever (37.8°C or higher), the employee must return home immediately and follow the government’s stay at home guidance.
Line managers will maintain regular contact with employees who are self-isolating or shielding.
If an employee or visitor to the office becomes unwell and may have developed COVID-19 symptoms, they should be asked to remove themselves to another area at least two meters from everyone else. Ideally, the person should be isolated in another room that is ventilated. The person should be encouraged to use their own phone to contact an appropriate person or public health organisation for advice and support.
If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, management will inform appropriate fellow employees of their possible exposure to the virus in the workplace. Employee confidentiality will be maintained.
Employees who have been exposed to a colleague with confirmed COVID-19 will be given instructions/advice by management on what to do in accordance with government policy and guidance.
In the event of an employee being exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, the management team will contact the relevant public health body in accordance with government policy and guidance.
Precautionary measures should be taken to protect office cleaners. If a person becomes ill with suspected COVID-19 symptoms in a shared space, the shared space should be cleaned using disposable cloths and appropriate detergents according to current recommended workplace legislation and practice.
All employees and visitors
|Health and Wellbeing|
|Management will continue to promote and prioritise the wellbeing of all employees, including during the COVID-19 outbreak.||Management will continue to engage with employees during the COVID-19 pandemic to help monitor and understand any unforeseen effects of the changing working environment.
Jo Ratcliffe is the designated peer support person and will be available to listen to any concerns or anxieties as well as issues that may affect them as a result of the pandemic. This support does not replace the normal line management functions and responsibilities.
Employees are able to access the tools and advice detailed within the ‘Health and wellbeing of the adult social care workforce’ guidance, which is available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-health-and-wellbeing-of-the-adult-social-care-workforce/health-and-wellbeing-of-the-adult-social-care-workforce
Management will check in regularly with employees, including those who work remotely or flexibly, using video calls where possible to maintain face-to-face contact. This may include wellbeing calls and meetings.
Management will ensure regular communication of mental health information and continue to operate an open-door policy for those employees who feel they may need additional support.
Management team and all employees