Managing risks and taking preventative measures
Objective: To reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures
Employers have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures. Employers must work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace so that everybody’s health and safety is protected.
In the context of COVID-19 this means working through these steps in order:
1) In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.
2) Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (keeping people 2m apart wherever possible).
3) Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.
Further mitigating actions include:
- Increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
- Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
- Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
- Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
- Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)
4) Finally, if people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead. No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.
In your assessment you should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
If you share your workplace with others you will need to decide how you can manage this. You should identify areas where you may come into contact with others and decide what plans need to be agreed and put in place to keep the 2 m distance.
- We will continue to work from home in line with current government guidance.
- If anyone is in the vulnerable category or in a household shielding others, we recommend you follow government guidance. We do not expect you to come into the office.
- However, people may go in to the office, if it helps either their mental health or they need to for a particular task. If you need to go into the office, it would be courteous to make other staff aware by informing everyone in the group chat.
- A 2m distance should be kept in place at all times between yourself and anybody else.
Organising your workplace
Organising your workplace to reduce the likelihood that coronavirus can spread is an important part of your risk assessment that will allow you to work safely during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Most of our staff will continue to work from home, but if we have more than 1 person in the office, you must ensure workstations are separated by 2 m. Preferably with employees facing away from each other (and sitting back to back is advised).
- In welfare facilities (toilets/kitchen) do not use towels or hand driers, use paper towels instead. Consider a one in, one out policy if space is limited.
- Leave doors open that can be left open (taking fire safety into consideration) to reduce the need for people to touch door handles.
- Use the office hand sanitiser when returning to the office and before using any shared equipment e.g. printer/cupboard door handles.
Cleaning and sanitising
Cleaning, sanitising and hygiene procedures for workers and workplaces are some of the main ways to ensure that people are working safely during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Commonly used areas that should be cleaned regularly are keyboards, mice and desks. Please use the antibacterial cleaning spray. Do not re-use cloths. Either disposable cloths or paper towels should be used.
- Keeping surfaces clear of objects makes it easier to clean and reduces the number of things that can become contaminated, e.g items on desks.
- Hand sanitiser is recommended for use when it isn’t possible for people to wash their hands straight away.
Wellbeing and support
The outbreak has been a worrying time for everyone and it is important that workers feel supported and listened to. It is crucial that their wellbeing is being looked after while working.
- We have a morning meeting at 9.30am to make sure everyone is up and ready for their day at work. Our evening meeting at 5pm is a strategy to help end your day of work and sign off from work matters.
- Online resources can be used to help support your mental health: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/
- If anyone wants to talk please do. Dave or Laurie will try to check in with each of you regularly.
- We’re always open to new ideas or advice. If you have any suggestions or feedback about managing your remote workload, please let us know.