There is a huge amount of government advice available about all aspects of coronavirus. As the shops and businesses cautiously re-open, it is sensible to consider all aspects of risk. 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.
The Government reminds employers that the following steps would be worked through in order:
In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.
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).
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:
- further 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)
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.
Organisations should carry out an assessment of the risks posed by Covid-19 in the workplace as soon as possible. These should be kept under review and the results of any risk assessment should be shared with the workforce and published on the website (the Government expects this for all businesses with over 50 employees).
To discuss this or any other employment related matter, contact us.