COVID-19 Risk Assessment
Independent Group 40 Whitfield Street
Verity Risk Management Limited: Kurt Coelho Consultant
Date 28th May 2020
1. Table of Contents
Executive Summary Update
On 23rd June 2020 the government announced a further relaxing of the restrictions around isolation and “social distancing.
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today (Tuesday 23 June) set out further changes to lockdown measures in England to enable people to see more of their friends and family, help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs.
From Saturday 4th July, the Prime Minister has announced that pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines.
From the same date, he has set out that two households will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures, and that people can now enjoy staycations in England with the reopening of accommodation sites.
In order to begin restoring the arts and cultural sector, some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, if they can do so safely – this includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
Following a review, the Prime Minister has also set out that where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’. This means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission…”
N.B. The announcement only applies to England.
Although the guidance has been modified a number of rules still remain in place including
- Maintaining a distance of two metres when in public places
- Working from home where possible
- Avoiding public transport
- Handwashing regularly
In light of the changes I have reviewed the current risk assessment. In the main the guidance and restrictive working are still valid. I have provided a commentary on each of the original recommendations to assist the business in understanding its regulatory duties.
The business may wish to consider producing a COVID Policy/Procedure which should help bring together all interests of the company into a single document. This risk assessment should be used to conclude the approach the organisation wishes to take to manage its business through this crisis and may also be incorporated into the company’s crisis management/business recovery plan.
The government have produced sector-specific guidelines for employers to follow to protect their workforce from exposure to COVID-19 whilst at work. This risk assessment follows those guidelines to ensure that the employer can demonstrate compliance with it.
In some instances the guidance is repetitive. I have written this risk assessment to address the issues mentioned and so there is repetition of some of the requirements or recommendations made.
As employer you will have a duty to communicate the findings and recommendations of this document with your employees. Additionally, the government have also requested that where appropriate, training is provided. This is an existing legal requirement in health and safety legislation.
The business should carefully review the infection rates (R0 value).
The number of daily infections is also a significant indicator of the success in fighting the disease. A significant reduction in this value will no doubt lead to a relaxing of restrictions on mobility.
The science is clear on what is required to bring back a pre-Covid-19 normality but the political and economic challenges are finely balanced. You will need to consider this in your business.
Employees should be encouraged to hold outdoor walk and talk meetings to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus indoors.
I have not covered general health and safety risk assessments in this document as the requirement is for a COVID-19 specific risk assessment.
As employer you still have legal duties in terms of the use of computer equipment at work and home and you should already have in place existing processes to meet these legal obligations.What the Government’s guidance requires from employers and employees
2. Thinking about risk
Objective: All employers carry out a COVID -19 risk assessment.
The government requires all employers to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment. Completion and presentation of this report demonstrates Independent Group’s commitment to protecting its employees, customers and the public.
Building and Introduction
Independent Group commissioned Verity Risk Management Limited to undertake a COVID-19 risk assessment for The Independent Group. Employers are legally required to carry out the assessment before businesses are permitted to return to their operating premises.
This report sets out the findings for Independent Group Whitfield Street London. The is occupied by Independent and associated companies.
2.1 Managing risk
Objective: to reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures in order of priority.
Independent Group has taken every precaution to reduce the risk of infection to staff, customers and the public to as low as is reasonably practicable. It has taken steps to ensure that all employees have the support of the business and relevant technology to work from home, particularly in the initial days of isolation and lockdown when the government issued a directive to all businesses and people. As a result, the business continues to ensure that it’s staff can work from home effectively.
It is now considering options to return to office activities safely for those who may be able to return to the physical office.
In order to reduce the risk of infection within the office, the company should consider provision of the following measures:
- Increase the use and availability of washing facilities and assess the suitability of washing facilities in the offices
- Look at the options and considerations required for [social] distancing in the office. This includes working in offices, using desks and computers and communication between staff without increasing the risk of infection by contacting potentially contaminated surfaces or airborne particles respired by people.
- Reduce the number of people each person may come into contact with by ensuring teams don’t mix.
- Consider the special circumstances of staff who have medical conditions which render them more susceptible to serious complications from exposure to the virus.
- Reduce the risk of exposure by considering the provision of partitions within shared workspaces.
- Considering whether staff are physically required to be present in the office or whether they can continue to work effectively from home, maintaining the provision of effective administrative and managerial support to colleagues.
2.2 Sharing the results of the risk assessment
The results of this risk assessment should be shared with colleagues, encouraging them to feedback, improve the assessment and ensure that the control measures considered are appropriate.
3. Who should go to work?
Objective: that everyone should work from home unless they cannot work from home.
Having considered staff who are required to come into the office the following can be concluded:
Since the offices have been closed, workers involved in roles critical to business and operational continuity, including facilities management, have shown that they can successfully operate from home for the majority of administrative work activities.
However, there may be circumstances when they are required to be at the office. This may include meeting contractors for instructions and supervision of maintenance of the building.
In the event of “close contact” being required, i.e for inspection of work or quality issues, personal protective equipment masks and gloves should be provided.
Furthermore, contractors should be required to produce a full site-specific risk assessment, considering additional requirements to protect Independent personnel and their associated companies from exposure to the SARS CoV2 virus.
Currently the reception area on the ground floor is staffed by two personnel. The lobby area is open and provides a seating area with two lifts to the left of the reception area. Towards the end of the reception is an entrance to one of two stairs. This area is also the entrance to the basement where there is a shower facility and an informal bicycle storage area.
In order to reduce the risk of infection a clear plastic/perspex screen should be erected for the protection of the receptionist. This should be placed between the receptionist and the visitors signing in desk. The screen should be erected to provide a total ground to floor height of approximately two metres.
Currently there is provision for two receptionists. This will not be possible for the current requirement to distance two metres.
The current seating provision should be temporarily reduced to a single chair for a receptionist.
No more than two visitors should be allowed in the reception area at any given time, one seated as earlier described, the others distanced towards the back of the reception area. Floor markers will help to identify safe spaces. In addition to this physical measure the company should also review the timings of visitors. The receptionist will play a critical role in coordinating visitors and should be kept in close communication with administrative staff and booking.
I recommend that a booking system is adopted if not already in place and managed by reception.
Hand sanitizer should be provided at the entrance and on the reception desk.
3.1.2 Recommendation Update
The current recommendation is still valid in the context of the new guidance. The business may wish to consider a temporary prohibition of visitors to protect the workforce and their clients.
1.1 Protecting people wHO are at higher risk
Objective: to protect clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.
The following group of individuals have been identified as being not suitable to go into a physical working environment for their own protection. If anyone in the company has a received a letter from their primary care provider informing them of the increased risk to their health, they should contact HR to inform the company. The lists below are those who are officially identified as being at risk and require particular care and protection from risks, at work, of being exposed to the virus.
Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
These individuals should not currently return to work and should be supported to work from home. Government guidance on returning to normal full [social] activity is not currently advised.
In the last two weeks the government have relaxed the rules around public freedoms. The guidance on extremely vulnerable personnel is still in place.
- Solid organ transplant recipients.
- People with specific cancers
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
- people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary (COPD).
- People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell).
- People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
- Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
Clinically vulnerable individuals
These people should wherever possible be encouraged to stay at home and work. However, this group of people may return to work.
In such cases, they should be kept two metres away from other all individuals, at all times. Where this isn’t possible, they should be required to wear a mask. For all staff, but particularly, this group regular handwashing and use of hand sanitizing gels should be extremely important. And they should have the gel nearby for use.
Those included in this category include patients who are at moderate risk of developing complications from coronavirus (COVID-19) where:
- they meet the criteria that makes them eligible for the annual flu vaccination (except those aged 65 to 69 year old inclusively who have no other qualifying conditions)
- and they do not meet the CMO criteria for the high risk group for COVID-19 including the following patient groups:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (for adults this is usually anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- those with a weakened immune system caused by a medical condition or medications such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant.
People who have identified as one of the above should be advised to work from home. The identified biggest risk to their health is exposure to someone or a surface that is contaminated.
Use of public transport is still considered to be a significant risk of infection and should be avoided particularly by this group and the extremely vulnerable group. This group should be encouraged not to return to work. You should also confirm your insurance position on these individuals should they wish to return to the office.
1.1.2 Recommendation Update
From 6th July extremely vulnerable people and categories below will be allowed to leave their homes. The government has indicated that they will no longer receive the government assistance but may still be able to apply to voluntary services for support and help.
It is still government policy that persons who can should work from home and avoid public transport.
1.2 People who need to self isolate
The government has provided clear guidelines and instruction to particularly susceptible individuals who are currently required to self-isolate. Please see the above list. These individuals should not be returning to work at this time.
In addition, if someone has tested positive or is displaying the symptoms of infection, or someone in their household has, they should not return to work.
They should inform their line manager as soon as possible. If that person has been at work within the last 24-72 hours, their manager must inform anyone who has been in close contact with them. They will also be required to self isolate for a period of 14 days. If provision has been made by the Government, they should make their own arrangements to get a test. In any case they should be asked to work from home or be off sick.
You should consider a simple questionnaire for staff and visitors entering the building.
You may also wish to consider a simple non-invasive (IR Temperature probe) which can be carried out on visitors. This will be voluntary. It can be mandated in a policy
Please also be advised that persons who have recently tested negative may have subsequently contracted the virus and therefore be virus shedding (contagious). Such notifications should be treated with caution.
Raised antibodies to the virus (antigen) may indicate a degree of immunity but the test alone does not guarantee this as it is time sensitive. Again this should be treated with caution.
If the above individuals have been cleared by medical professionals, this may provide better assurance.
1.2.2 Recommendation Update
The government are requiring pubs and restaurants to keep a list of visitors which should be made available to contact tracing representatives if demanded. It would be prudent to keep a register of visitors and staff who work in the office for a period of 28 days to assist with contact tracing should people be permitted in to the office. GDPR applies so data will need to be managed in accordance with your data privacy policies.
1.3 Equality in the workplace
I am not aware of the company not currently employing anyone who is registered or identifies as disabled. Should this situation change, a separate risk assessment of this individual should be made.
2. [social] distancing at work
Objective: to maintain two metre [social] distancing wherever possible including arriving at and departing from work, in work and when travelling between sites.
I have carried out a detailed assessment of the [social] distancing controls required to ensure people can maintain two metres while working or to provide shields which will reduce the risk of infection through contact with contaminated surfaces or close contact with people and infection brought about by inhaling contaminated air.
In addition, the company should reduce occupancy in offices where it is not possible to [social] distance. I have provided amended floor diagrams to support the business.
2.1 Coming to work and leaving work
Objective: to maintain [social] distancing wherever possible on arrival and departure from the building and to ensure hand washing upon arrival.
There is only one formal entrance and exit to the offices. Receptionists, and those in control of the door entry system, will need to ensure they control the movement of people at the entrance. This can be achieved by instructing those persons responsible for door entry to warn others if they are expecting a visitor.
Visitors should be discouraged from visiting the premises unless absolutely necessary. Visitors should be encouraged to wear face masks. If they come to the office without one, they should be offered a new face mask at reception until they reach their host and can maintain the two metre distance in the meeting room.
- Upon arrival visitors, should be strongly encouraged to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer gel which should be available at reception.
- Personnel who need to come to the office should not travel during normal rush hour times. They should travel after 9:00 AM and, when leaving the office, depart outside normal rush hour (4pm to 6pm). Staff should be encouraged, where practical to cycle or walk. People should not be encouraged to take public transport, in particular the Underground, National Rail or buses.
- The business should be prepared to pay for reasonable expenses should members of staff need to take private cars or taxis into work or to travel from site to site for business activities. This will depend on the company HR and expenses policies.
- This practise should be in place until changes in [social] distancing take place, along with the Government’s advice on the use of public transport is relaxed. The first priority should continue to be to work from home in line with current government guidance.
- Additional hand sanitizers should be provided at the desk of every worker. Hand sanitizers and additional soap should be provided for anyone using the washing facilities.
- Hand towels should not be encouraged due to risk of contamination and hands-free electric dryers should be provided.
- Staff should be made aware that door handles maybe contaminated and encouraged to use hand sanitizers when returning to desks or moving around the office.
2.1.2 Recommendation Update
The above recommendations have not changed. The business should carefully consider the necessity for people to be in the office and should encourage the use of communication apps for meetings.
2.1.3 Safety Checks before you leave the house
Employees should ensure that they are well before they travel to the office. Below is a brief checklist that staff should consider before leaving home.
Are you displaying any of the symptoms of COVID-19 identified by the NHS/ Public Health England?
- This includes loss of taste
- Cough or sore throat (not to be confused with hay fever)
- Raised temperature of feeling unusually cold?
- Has any member of your household been tested positive for the virus?
- Are you shielding someone in your household?
- Have you recently been diagnosed as being in the vulnerable group?
If you answer negatively to the above you should consider whether you are fit to travel into the office.
2.2 Moving around the building and worksites
Objective: to maintain [social] distancing, wherever possible, while people travel through the workplace.
Staff should be requested not to move freely around the office. Regrettably, socialising of staff between floors should not be encouraged. Communication should be at a distance of more than two metres or, ideally, by internal telephone.
The lifts in the building are really only suitable for a single person. There are guidelines which allow for more than one person in a lift of this size. This involves the users in the lift facing the wall when there is more than one person in the lift.
Staff should be asked not to use the lift if possible and priority should be given to any person who has difficulty accessing the upper floors by the staircase.
In addition, the company should consider reprogramming the lifts to operate in one direction only. This may help with movements in the building. So, one lift going up which returns to the ground floor. The second lift goes down and returns to the fourth floor.
Each floor should be signed to indicate which is which.
2.2.2 Recommendation Update
I have updated the floor plans with a suggested floor layout. Please note that I have now added the use of face masks in certain areas where the two-metre rule may be breached. However, I would emphasise that the original two metre rule still applies in offices unless this is impossible to achieve. Such instances would include use of the kitchen and washroom facilities where people may briefly breach the distance, and for this reason masks should be worn temporarily.
2.3 Workplaces and workstations
Objective: to maintain [social] distancing between individuals when they are at their workstations.
I have reviewed all office desks and spaces and make the following recommendations to ensure safe distancing so that everyone working in the office can maintain a distance of at least two metres between desks. Where the distance is less than two metres (which is exceptional in this office), a screen should be provided between the two colleagues to assist with [social] distancing.
I have also marked out on drawing desks which should not be used for as long as the two metre requirement is in place.
All desks should be allocated to individual employees. This will help ensure that hygiene risks are minimised. Due to limited space, some employees (a limited number) will not be allowed to work at their normally allocated desk.
Objective: to reduce transmission during face to face meetings and maintain [social] distancing in meetings.
The company has already taken steps to use remote meeting software. Where face to face meetings are essential, [social] distancing must be maintained. There are a number of offices where it is possible for meetings to take place.
The current seating layout provides space for approximately 12 people to meet around a rectangular table. To maintain [social] distancing, this meeting room will only be able to hold a maximum of six people at the table. It may possible to accommodate more people, if they are seated towards the periphery of the board room.
- If the business wishes to encourage cycling a racking system should be installed.
- A booking system may be required to control the number of people allowed to park their cycles. Folding bicycles and a cycle to work scheme may help to promote cycling in the business and folding bicycle will alleviate the pressure on space in the basement.
- The showering facility is extremely limited. The current guidance requires a full clean down after each use. For this reason, the shower should be limited. Cleaners should be consulted on the possibility of cleaning in between use.
- Entering and leaving the area will need to be controlled carefully to ensure that distance is maintained. Reception are best placed to achieve this.
- Floor signage has been considered but is not appropriate in a room of this size.
2.4.3 Recommendation Update
The new guidelines do not have any impact on the recommendations above.
2.5 Common areas
Objective: to maintain [social] distancing while using common areas.
The common areas in the office consists of stairs, stairwells, corridors, the kitchens located on each floor including the ground, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd and 4th floors and washroom areas.
Staff working in the office should be advised to take precautions to maintain a distance of two metres. People are clearly visible in most of the office. If the business wishes to reinforce this they may want to consider placing signage on floors or walls. Exceptionally the washroom areas will either be occupied or unlocked. If a washroom is occupied, users are asked to wait two metres or in the adjoining doorway to allow users to pass by.
As there are limited shops open, lunch is not readily available. Staff should be encouraged to bring their own meals and use the kitchen facilities. They should also stagger break times and use of the kitchen. A rota will assist on floors where there are a significant number of people. In general, there are usually no more than three people on each floor working in their own or shared offices. One or two offices will need to be redesigned to remove seating from the office area to allow for [social] distancing.
For information, reminder posters should be placed at two metres distances on the walls or, where possible, on floors to mark out larger areas.
2.5.2 Recommendation Update
Masks should be worn by people using the washroom facilities if there is a chance that they may breach the two-metre distance.
2.6 Accidents security and other incidents
Objective: to prioritise safety during incidents.
in the event of an emergency, including an evacuation of the building due to fire or some other unexpected event, it will not be possible to maintain a two metre distance. Persons evacuating the building should do so as quickly as possible utilising a designated emergency exit.
in the event of an accident where first aid treatment is required, if possible, the injured person and the first aider must wear a mask during treatment. If they are not conscious this will not be possible and the first aider should follow the guidelines/training they have been given to treat the patient. First aid should be administered as best as possible without putting the first aider at risk of infection. In such circumstances all parties should consider that they may be asymptomatic carriers of the virus and respond appropriately.
3. Managing your customers, visitors and contractors
Objective: to minimise the number of unnecessary visits to the office.
3.1 Managing contacts
The business must ensure that unnecessary visits to head office are prohibited. In addition, personnel are only to arrange visits for potential clients to offices or premises for inspection as a last resort. For such visits, employees should be expected to take the safest means of transport which may be walking or cycling. They are not to take public transport unless there is minimal risk to their health.
In preference to public transport they should take a taxi or preferably their own vehicle. If travelling in a taxi they should wear a mask and carry hand sanitizer which they should use before entering and upon exiting the ride.
3.2 Providing and explaining available guidance
Objective: to make sure people understand what they need to do to maintain safety.
The company should make this document available to all its employees. I recommend managers discuss the contents with their line reports. If they have any questions which the line manager is unable to answer they should be referred to senior management for consideration.
If an employee is satisfied with the assessment and understands its requirements, they should be requested to sign a copy which they should be able to keep for their own records. HR should also keep a copy of the risk assessment within the health and safety management system or HR personnel file.
4. Cleaning the workplace
Objective: to make sure that any site or location that has been closed or partially operating is clean and ready to start.
The head office has continued to have the offices cleaned throughout the closure of the building.
When the office is formally opened for employees, cleaning contractors must increase the level of cleaning to help reduce the risk of infection. However, employees are also asked to play their part by keeping their personal areas and common areas as clean as possible, using sanitisers and cleaning materials wherever they think necessary or in accordance with the guidance in this document.
4.1 Before reopening
I understand that essential maintenance has carried on during the lockdown. This includes lift maintenance. A number of personnel have also visited the premises for a limited time.
There are a number of additional measures required to ensure the safety and health of our staff. This is dues to the fact that during lockdown certain facilities may now require cleaning or special measures to clean them of any potential infection.
- All water systems including wash basins, taps, hot and cold-water storage areas, and toilet facilities should be thoroughly flushed down and where possible disinfected to eliminate any risk of bacterial infection which may have accumulated in the water system due to lack of use.
- Cleaning contractors will ensure they have prepared risk assessments to safely flush all water systems so as to reduce the risk of infection from any potential harmful bacteria to both themselves and employees.
- Fridges should be cleaned and disinfected. Use of fridges will be limited for the foreseeable future.
Air conditioning systems
- The air conditioning systems provide heating, cooling and fresh air in the building and these must be checked, examined and serviced to ensure they are functioning correctly.
- Where possible, additional or improved performance (HEPA) filtration should be considered and the air conditioning system adjusted to ensure maximum ventilation and fresh air available throughout the building with increased air changes per hour.
- Staff are asked, whenever possible, to support the number of air changes by opening windows where this does not negatively impact the air-conditioning system.
- Air changes should also be increased to help with the number of air changes if this is technically possible. This will help to dilute any potential viral load and reduce the risk of infection.
4.1.2 Recommendation Update
Recent scientific studies have suggested that air quality may have a role to play in transmission. The studies have not concluded definitively the optimum air temperature and humidity to reduce the risk of transmission. However, government scientific experts it is accepted and recommended by that dilution of air is of benefit in reducing infection.
Keeping the workplace clean
- Desk areas and high touch points should be cleaned more frequently. I recommend that employees should be particularly mindful of areas such as handrails, light switches and telephones.
- Hand sanitizer should be provided on each desk.
- I recommend that there are sufficient bins in the office and frequency of emptying is reviewed.
- Employees are asked to keep the amount of working materials on their desks to a minimum and to remove as many items as possible to aid the cleaners.
- Whiteboard usage should be avoided or minimised. White board markers should be cleaned after each use and subsequent users should assume that they are not clean and wash their hands before and after using the whiteboard.
Suspected COVID-19 Employee
If an employee has informed the company they are suspected of infection, their desk and any items they may have used should be quarantined. Their desk should be labelled and contractors informed that they need to carry out a more thorough clean using effective disinfectants.
Employees should be kept informed if there is a possibility that they may have come into prolonged contact with the individual.
4.2.2 Recommendation Update
These recommendations are not affected by the recent changes in rules
4.3 Hygiene – handwashing sanitation facilities and toilets
Additional hand sanitisers should be provided for all personnel and at sanitising points in the kitchen area, entrance and toilets to promote good hand hygiene.
- The company should also provide hand sanitiser at each workstation. Washrooms should be provided with extra supplies of soap as more frequent cleaning is anticipated
- Reminders to wash your hands more frequently should be placed in washrooms.
- Washrooms should be cleaned by the cleaning contractors in the morning and at the end of the day.
- High frequency touch points should be cleaned throughout the building.
- Additional signage should be placed in washrooms reminding to wash hands
4.4 Changing rooms and showers
The showering facility should be limited to essential users.
- No hand towels or personal items should be left in the shower area until further notice.
- The shower may be restricted to the use of a single person. Employees should make facilities management aware if they believe their use of the shower is essential during work time.
4.4.2 Recommendation Update
These recommendations are not affected by the recent changes in rules
4.5 Handling goods mechandise and other materials
Incoming goods and parcels to the offices will need to be sanitised before they can be distributed. And admin should be responsible for the sanitisation process. There are two options:
Post should be handled using disposable gloves and left for 72 hours before being distributed.
It should be sprayed with disinfectant, left to dry and then distributed.
Employees should be encouraged not to use the business address for personal deliveries until further notice.
5. Personal protective equipment and face coverings
The government has said that the use of protective face masks is not mandatory but left it to individuals to decide.
Disposable gloves should be provided to all members of staff who are required to clean or handle postage and packaging deliveries.
5.1 Face covering
There is evidence that wearing face masks does provide protection from the spread of the disease, particularly in enclosed areas.
The company should provide face masks ideally to level FFP2 to all personnel who are unable to work a consistent two metres apart. However the government does not require CE marked face coverings and they permit any face covering. Currently HSE is recommending that N95 masks should not be used as they have recently issued a warning about the validity of the certification standard.
(If PPE is provided employees should be provided with training in the safe use of masks.)
No training is required employees who decide to wear non PPE face coverings are not
If any personnel are required to carry out site visits, they will also be required to wear face masks if they are entering a building with people or where they cannot guarantee that they will keep a two metre distance.
5.1.1 Recommendation Update
The government has recommended the use of face coverings where it is not possible to keep a two metre distance. There are circumstances when face coverings may still be required in the office during use of the kitchen and use of the washroom. The business should still comply with the two metre distance.
6. Workforce management
6.1 Shift patterns and working groups
Staff should only work with their functional teams to help reduce the risk of potential spread. This means avoiding prolonged, direct contact with other teams in the office. Teams are, for the most part separated, by floor which provides natural [social] distancing.
6.2 Work related travel
Personnel should refrain from travelling to sites when a non-contact call or meeting can be made.
Travel to sites should be limited to essential journeys for business purposes and where no other alternative exists. As mentioned previously, travel should be on foot, cycle or personal transport if possible.
Public transport must be avoided due to the risk of infection from other commuters and the inability to [socially] distance.
6.2.1 Cars accommodation and visits
People should be encouraged to travel in their own cars. Sharing a vehicle unfortunately is not advised unless the persons travelling together live in the same household.
6.2.2 Deliveries to other sites
If goods have to be delivered to other sites, employees will need to wear the gloves and face masks provided if they cannot maintain [social] distance or if they are unable to confirm whether they should be going to a crowded, uncontrolled place.
6.3 Communications and training
Training should be provided by the company on the safe use of protective gloves and masks if they are required to be worn. The plans set out to establish a two metre rule do not require the wearing of masks in the office. However in the event that the two metre distance cannot be maintained, face covering should be worn.
6.3.1 Returning to work
The company should provide updates on the status of building reopening and in accordance with the requirements set out by the Government. The company should communicate any changes in the building by email.
6.3.2 Ongoing communications and signage
This has been a concerning time for all people and their families. And it’s important to ensure people feel supported to stay physically and mentally healthy.
The company should establish a system to consult with employees on a phased return to work.
After such a significant time away from the physical office and lacking in personal physical contact with the public and work colleagues, the business should consider establishing professional services to support staff who may have personal challenges in returning to work. This could involve referral to professional counselling services.
In the first instance line managers should contact their employees for an informal discussion about the changes being made to the building and the physical and procedural steps to protect them.
The official guidance requires employers to consult with the employees and trade unions to discuss the changes being made to reduce the risk of infection whilst at work.
7. APPENDix – Declaration
The guidance requires this notice to be signed and displayed in the building. The government have also required businesses to display their COVID 19 risk assessment on their webpages.
8. Appendix- Scope and approach
Scope and approach
Below, I have set out the scope of the services and methodology used to deliver the assignment. This included:
- Undertaking a review of the building floor by floor.
- Carrying out a review of the potential requirements of the landlord by assessing the potential touch points in the building which tenants may reasonably be expected to contact.
- Inspecting the premises for any areas which may present a hazard in terms of [social] distancing.
- Understanding the ventilation available for which the landlord has control.
- Providing recommendations to the client on reasonable steps to be take to help discharge their legal duties as landlords.
- In terms of assessing the risks:
- Identifying what could cause injury or illness in the business (hazards)
- Deciding how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how serious that risk is
- Recommending action to eliminate the hazard or, if this isn’t possible, to control the risk
- Review the controls
I have referenced the current guidance available from the UK Government, “Working safely during COVID-19 in offices and contact centres”.
The hazards associated with COVID-19 in the building are:
- Exposure to contaminated surfaces namely light switches and buttons used for door entry and exit.
- Handrails on stairwells.
- Lift buttons to call lift and lift buttons to floor levels. Lift emergency buttons and call phones.
- Floors and potentially wall surfaces
- Window areas
- Airborne particles expired during breathing by asymptomatic and symptomatic persons who have not shielded during coughing or sneezing and are at the virus shedding stage of the disease.
- Shared washing facilities and potential contamination of surfaces.
Review the Controls
The control measures recommended above should be reviewed for effectiveness with spot checks carried out by cleaning supervisors or the cleaning managers and confirmed in writing to provide assurance to the landlord.
Due to the constantly changing situation and regular government updates, the controls should be reviewed at least every two weeks or, in light of changes to government guidance where
- restrictions of movement are increased,
- revert back to isolation in the geographical area
- or in light of a return to totally normal working activities pre- COVID-19 health emergency.
Verity Risk Management will provide updates on significant changes for a period of up to two months.
10. SUGGESTEd office layout for two metre distancing
Please see separate pdf diagrams for each floor