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What are the Government telling us to do?

We are currently being drip fed information in the press about Government draft papers which are going to provide guidance for different sectors and different types of workplaces. They have categorised seven settings: offices, shops, hotels and restaurants, factories, people working outdoors, those working in vehicles and those working in other people’s homes. The guidance suggests that “it will not always be possible to keep a distance of two metres”, and that in those cases employers must do “everything they reasonably can to reduce risk”.

We will be sharing relevant risk assessments with our clients and providing assistance if this is required. In the meantime, here is some information about carrying out risk assessments.

Who Needs to Carry Out a Risk Assessment and What do they need to Consider?

An employer should carry out a risk assessment before they undertake work which presents a risk of injury or ill health. As an employer you are responsible for health and safety in your business.

You can delegate the task, but ultimately you are responsible. You will need to make sure that whoever does the risk assessment:

  • is competent to do so
  • involves your workers in the process
  • understands when specialist help might be needed

You do not necessarily need specific training or qualifications to carry out a risk assessment. As an employer, however, you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to manage health and safety. You may need extra help or advice if you do not have sufficient experience or knowledge in-house or if the risks are complex.

To undertake a risk assessment, you need to understand what, in your business, might cause harm to people and decide whether you are doing enough to prevent that harm as far as is reasonably practicable. Once you have decided that you need to identify and prioritise putting in place, appropriate and sensible control measures. There is a hierarchy of hazard reduction to consider ensuring that consideration is given to the eliminating or reducing risks rather than just accepting them and wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

You do not need to include insignificant risks. You do not need to include risks from everyday life unless your work activities increase the risk.

Your risk assessment should cover all groups of people who might be harmed by your business. This includes workers, contractors, and members of the public. You will need to consider specific risks associated with any young people at work, people with poor literacy skills or migrant workers that may not understand spoken or written English.

You only need to record your risk assessment if you employ five or more people. That said, any paperwork that is produced should help with communicating and managing the risks in your business.

You need to record:

  • the significant findings – what the risks are, what you are already doing to control them and what further action is needed
  • details of any particular groups of employees who you have identified as being especially at risk

What is As Far as is Reasonably Practicable

In considering control measures, you will come across the term as far as is reasonably practicable.

This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time, or trouble. However, you do not need to take action if it would be grossly disproportionate to the level of risk. In practice, this can be difficult to pin down as it is subjective and may change in nature as this emerging issue unfolds.

What is the Hierarchy of Hazard Control?

In considering the hierarchy of Hazard Control (ERIC-PD), the risk to the workforce can be mitigated – for example:

Hierarchy Meaning Practical Example
E Eliminate Work from Home
R Reduce Split shifts, less people within the workplace at any one time, making adjustment to how tasks are undertaken
I Isolate Self-Isolation if symptomatic, making adjustment to how tasks are undertaken
C Control Physical barriers to keep workforce apart
P PPE Masks, gloves
D Discipline Asking workforce to keep 2m apart

Key areas to consider are areas of congestion, such as kitchens and mess rooms. Staggering break times could be a simple measure to assist in maintaining the 2m guideline.

Would you like our assistance with undertaking risk assessments?

Our H&S team are expert at carrying out H&S Risk Assessments and have been doing these remotely and on-site now to get our clients back to work.

It is really important to carrying out these risk assessments and seeking our assistance may well ease your own workload and get these done.

To discuss your options, call or email Dafydd Lloyd on 07814251297 – he is co-ordinating all our H&S services.

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