Health and safety at work has never before been under the spotlight to such an extent as it is today. With many organisations returning to work in an uncertain Covid-19 landscape, safety is of huge concern.
Business leaders have a responsibility to employees and stakeholders to ensure workplaces are operationally safe, yet with the threat of Covid-19 this takes on a whole new level.
Safety and health specialist, Hosking Associates, has launched a Covid-19 Risk Assessment process to support organisations in their reopening and can offer guidance for getting back to work safely.
Their consultancy and advice service is in line with new government guidance and they are offering one-off services to complete individual risk assessments, or annual support, which looks at an organisations whole approach to the management of safety, health, and wellness.
As well as these services, the Hosking team are running free drop-in advice sessions over zoom, to help all businesses access crucial expertise and information. The Q&A series is designed to help small business leaders and managers get answers to important safety and health questions, to better support the safe reopening of UK industry.
Whilst the government has rushed to produce a wide range of guidance it is the risk assessment which is a legal requirement. These must meet legal standards, cover all potential hazards, and be completed by someone who has the skills, knowledge, and experience to make sure it is robust.
The HSE and local authorities have been allocated funds to enforce these standards. Businesses without a suitable and sufficient risk assessment could be served with notices, including prohibition notices, which would effectively close them with immediate effect.
Risk assessments cover a wide range of areas key to reopening safely during the pandemic, including:
- Higher level strategic arrangements for the senior leadership teams
- Identification of high-risk groups of people who may need personal risk assessments
- Work arrangements to maintain physical distancing and manage high standards of cleaning/hygiene
- Identification of shared touch points or common areas and how these can be managed
- Where personal contact cannot be avoided e.g. when administering first aid
- Work by contractors
- Home working and hazards associated with potential musculoskeletal disorders
- Mind Health and Wellness – looking at stress hazards and supporting those feeling anxious or lonely
- Other hazards, and their control such as electrical safety, use of passenger lifts, fire, emergencies, and legionella control
- Health monitoring
- Use of PPE
- Information, Instruction, Training, and Supervision for workers
- Documentation of controls
Following a risk assessment, Hosking can work alongside businesses to introduce a comprehensive action plan, countering any risks or gaps in health and safety identified during the assessment. To date, the team have developed guidance for organisations from care providers to contractors who have no choice but to work in close contact for some tasks.
Louise Hosking, founder and director, Hosking Associates said, “We have worked with essential service businesses over the lock down to ascertain the right risk-based approach to take. As restrictions are gradually lifted, we are here to help and support all businesses as they re-open.”
“In order to protect against the spread of this virus, we will need constant vigilance from all workplaces for a significant period of time.
“We want to support businesses and employees positively through this crisis so they feel confident they are doing all they can to stay healthy and protect the wellbeing of others.”