URM’s COVID-19 Workplace Risk Assessment Tool
Risk Assessment Mandatory Before Staff Return to Work
If your organisation is considering a return to the workplace for all or some of your employees following the COVID-19 lockdown, you have a responsibility under law* to protect your workers and others from risk to their health and safety. In order to assist organisations, the UK Government has issued various guidance material; the latest being ‘Working safely during COVID-19 in offices and contact centres’, issued on 14 June 2020. This Government Guidance document provides a practical framework for employers and employees to safely continue or restart their operations and covers issues such as who should return to work, social distancing, managing customers and visitors, cleaning surfaces etc.
As with any health and safety-related hazard, the starting point in protecting your people from COVID-19 is to conduct a risk assessment, which again is an employer requirement under health and safety law*.
*Most notably Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Purpose of Risk Assessment
Apart from satisfying your legal responsibilities as an employer and following government guidelines, conducting a comprehensive risk assessment allows you to identify, prioritise and target the greatest risks to employees and others in a ‘return to the workplace’ scenario. By conducting a risk assessment, you can save time and money by avoiding unnecessary risk treatment activities. It is important to acknowledge that you can never totally eliminate the risk of COVID-19, but you do need to do everything reasonably practicable to minimise the risk. The Government Guidance document is highly valuable in that it brings together the latest scientific thinking to help inform your decisions and control measures in respect of COVID-19 related risks. As the Guidance document states, risk assessment is not about creating masses of paperwork, but is more about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace and providing you with peace of mind that you have done everything you need to. In addition, if you have more than 5 workers, there is also a requirement to document your risk assessment.
Sharing Your Risk Assessment
One of the recommendations from the Government Guidance document is that you should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce and, where possible, consider publishing it on your website. The document states that the Government expects employers with over 50 workers to do so.
URM’s Solution: COVID-19 ‘Workplace’ Risk Assessment Tool
The tool will help you meet all your legal requirements and
follows all the Government and Health and
Safety Executive guidance and suggestions.
It also uniquely conforms with the risk assessment requirements
of ISO 45001, the International Standard for Occupational
Health and Safety Management Systems.
The outputs from URM’s tool are
1) a publishable risk register
2) an action plan.
Methodology Adopted by URM Tool
For each of the areas included within the Guidance document (e.g. Who should go to work?, Protecting people who are at higher risk, Equality in the workplace, Social distancing etc), URM has identified a number of risks in meeting the guidelines. When assessing the risks for each area, you need to start by identifying who within your organisation is responsible for the different risks and then assess the impact and likelihood (low/medium/high) of the risk materialising to define your risk rating.
The next step is to determine which controls (as outlined in the Guidance document) you have or have not implemented, and which are not applicable. You need to describe how you have implemented each control and, conversely, explain why you have not implemented other controls.
Finally, you must decide if there are any actions required to implement or improve the implementation of different controls, with a target date attached. Each control can then be assessed on its current maturity level (low/medium/high) and you can consider the maturity level once implemented or improved which will define the residual risk for each particular area, and provide clarity to enable you to understand where your greatest outstanding risks lie.
Following your risk assessment, the tool will automatically produce an action plan and a publishable risk register which can be published on your website and shared with your employees as you see fit.
Why Adopt URM’s Risk Assessment Tool
What Does This Tool Include?
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The tool also includes a health and safety risk assessment element which you can use on an ongoing basis!