Covid-19 has made an unavoidable impact on all our lives. We have found ourselves in the midst of a global crisis, unprecedented in living memory. As the dust settles, we are trying to settle into a sensible, sustainable routine of living and working. If you are an employee, employer or business owner, you probably have concerns over how to continue your work safely.
If your business is not one which has been asked to close temporarily by the Government, you should continue to operate.
You have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of your workers, and others who may be affected by your activities.
If your people are able to carry out their work from home, they should be allowed to do so, and you must support them in this. This may require the provision of IT and other equipment. You also have a responsibility to ensure that their health and wellbeing is not compromised by working at home. Steps you must take may include DSE and mental wellbeing assessments.
If your work cannot be carried out from home, your risk assessments and safe working methods must all now include the hazard of Covid-19, and you must detail what steps you are taking to mitigate the risk.
In the event that a prosecution or civil case arises, you must be able to prove that you took reasonably practicable steps to protect your workforce and others.
Some or all of your company's work may be carried out by employees from their homes. If this is possible, you must support your employees to work from home.
In addition to providing the equipment needed to carry out work from home, it is your responsibility to ensure that working from home does not cause your employee problems such as stress, or musculoskeletal injury from poor posture at the dining room table.
While it may not be possible to carry out DSE assessments for self-isolating employees, providing advice and the means for them to assess themselves should be something you consider. Safety Concepts can help you with DSE advice. Contact us here.
It is widely accepted that most of the population is under increased stress under the current conditions. You should especially consider employees who may be more vulnerable to stress. This may require you to carry out assessments to ascertain who is at highest risk of suffering stress effects from working at home, and putting measures in place to help them.
Safety Concepts has considerable experience in stress management. Click here for more information.
You must review your risk assessments to ensure that you have accounted for the Covid-19 hazard. You may need to create new risk assessments for activities that previously posed no significant risk. This is important because a good risk assessment will help you to:
Once you have carried out your risk assessments, you must carefully develop your control measures and safe working procedures. Guidance is available from the Government and other bodies, but this is not specific for your business and, while it is certainly helpful, it should not be entirely relied upon: you must be confident that you have considered all risks in a suitable and sufficient manner.
You will probably need to make different provisions for your different groups of workers. For example, if you still have people working in your offices, they will need different guidance from people working on your factory floor or on a construction site. You may need to consider subcontractors or labour-only contractors. Remember that travelling to or between sites may pose an increased risk and be prepared to include this in your advice for your employees.
Your risk assessments and procedures must be communicated to your employees and if appropriate your subcontractors. You must ensure that they have been understood and that all your employees take the measures you have set out to protect them and others. To make things clear and easy to remember you may need to post notices at entrances or welfare areas.
Everyone is under increased stress during the Covid-19 pandemic. Employees who don't usually appear to suffer from stress will not be exempt from this. Consider carrying out assessments for the mental wellbeing of your workforce.
Safety Concepts has a developed range of tools to assist you in all areas of risk assessment and working safely. We will be able to help you develop and implement everything you need.