Goal setting: That all employers carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment.
You must ensure that the risk assessment for your company takes into account the risks of COVID-19 and use these guidelines to inform your decisions and control measures. A risk assessment is not about creating large amounts of paperwork, but about identifying sensible measures to control the risks on your premises. Your risk assessment will help you decide if you've done everything you need to do.
The transmission of COVID-19 is most associated with close and prolonged indoor contact. The highest risk of transmission is in crowded rooms for long periods of time, and physical distance is an important remedy. If a situation results in a face-to-face distance of 2 meters being unreachable, it is strongly recommended to take additional mitigation measures, including (but not limited to) facial coverage and minimizing exposure time.
The following diagram shows the possible transmission paths for COVID-19.
- Infected person
- Vulnerable person
- Large particles or droplets
- Large droplets settle on the floor in a few seconds
- Medium particles or droplets
- Risk of transmission from direct exposure to respiratory droplets and contact with the surface
- Small droplets and aerosols
- Small droplets evaporate in this zone to form aerosols (droplet cores)
- Aerosols are transported in air currents for minutes to hours
When selecting prevention and mitigation measures, a “hierarchy of control” approach should be used that takes into account all potential transmission routes and is tailored to each attitude and activity.
Preventive measures should reduce the risks to the lowest reasonably practicable order in order of priority. This is what is meant by a control hierarchy. The following list shows the order in which you want to reduce the risks identified in your workplace. Look at the headings in the order given and don't just jump to the easiest control measure to implement.
- Elimination – Redesign the job or replace a fabric to eliminate or eliminate the hazard.
- Substitution – Replace the material or process with a less dangerous one.
- Technical controls – For example, use work tools or other measures to avoid falls that you cannot avoid working at height, install or use additional machinery to control the risks of dust or smoke, or operator hazards through methods such as trapping or protecting dangerous objects from machinery / equipment to be separated. Measures that protect together give priority to individual measures.
- Administrative controls – This is about identifying and implementing the procedures you need to work safely. For example: shortening the time in which workers are exposed to hazards (e.g. due to job rotation); Ban on the use of mobile phones in potentially explosive atmospheres; Increasing safety signs and carrying out risk assessments.
- Personal protective clothing and equipment – Personal protective equipment (PPE) may only be used when all previous measures have been tried and found to be ineffective in order to control risks to a reasonably practical level. For example, if you can't rule out the risk of falling, use tools or other measures to minimize the distance and consequences of a fall (if one should occur). If selected, the PPE should be selected and adjusted by the person using it. Workers must be trained in the function and limitation of each PPE item.
An illustration of what these proposed measures to reduce exposure risk would do is provided by Institute for Occupational Medicine.
Interactive tools are available to assist you from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Management of risks and risk assessments at work.
Risk assessments must reflect the Welsh government's current laws and guidelines.
Your local authority can provide advice to support risk assessments. Public protection departments have the task of supporting companies and implementing measures and advice for the public as consumers. Council officials can provide risk assessment templates, guides and checklists.
Everyone has to assess and control the risks of COVID-19. As an employer, you also have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risks to their health and safety. This means that you have to think about the risks and do everything you can to minimize them. You have to recognize that you cannot completely rule out the risk of COVID-19.
The risk assessment helps with decisions and control measures. The HSE provides guidelines and examples for risk assessments.
Employers are required to consult workers on health and safety. Workers should be involved in partnership with the employer in the assessment of workplace risks and in the development and review of health and safety policies, which may be supported by their union or other representative organization. If the workforce is not unionized, you must contact a representative selected by the workers. As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be.
Employees should be encouraged to identify, express, and provide feedback on risk and control measures so that they can be adjusted.
When you think about risks, some important principles are:
- The need to demonstrate a formal, consistent and proactive approach to risk assessment and taking appropriate action.
- Risk assessments should be live documents and should be checked regularly.
- When assessing risks, damage to the physical and mental health of employees, volunteers and customers should be taken into account.
- Minimize the need for work-related travel and personal contact.
- How do you have to take into account the age profile of the workforce?
- The need to consider the minimum level of safe personnel – for example, to maintain the specific COVID-19 protocols, or when an employee or volunteer feels uncomfortable or needs to isolate repeatedly. This can determine customer capacity on site.
- What precautions have to be taken at occupied locations if someone feels uncomfortable on the premises?
All risk assessments should take into account that communication, training and appropriate equipment are important factors in risk reduction.
If the enforcement agency, such as the HSE or your local authority, identifies employers who do not take measures to comply with relevant public health risk legislation and guidelines, they will consider a number of measures to improve job control risks. This would affect, for example, employers who, if possible, do not take appropriate measures to ensure physical distance. Measures that HSE can take include providing specific advice to employers to issuing enforcement notices to ensure improvements.
How to give cause for concern:
- Contact your employee representative if your workplace has one.
- Contact your union if you have one.
- Use the HSE form
- Contact HSE by phone on 0300 003 1647
3.1 Risk management
Goal setting: Reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventive measures in order of priority.
Operators in the visitor industry are obliged to reduce the risk at the workplace to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventive measures. All risks must be assessed through a meaningful discussion with employees and / or their recognized union before work can begin again. Risk assessments should include those who work from home. If you are legally required to provide a written risk assessment (for five or more employees), important results must be noted and control measures taken.
In the context of COVID-19, this means working through these steps in turn:
- Increase the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning at every work station.
- Businesses and jobs in the visitor economy should, as far as reasonably possible, enable people to work from home. If work from home is not reasonably practical, employers must comply with physical distance duties.
- There may be a very limited number of working circumstances in which adequate measures cannot be taken to ensure a distance of 2 meters between people. If it is really important that the operation continues, other measures need to be taken. If the actions related to a particular activity are unreasonable, companies should consider whether this activity needs to continue for the company to operate and in this case take all possible mitigating measures to reduce the risk of transmission between their employees and employees decrease all those who may be on the premises.
- Think about how people get to and from work. If employees spend a lot of time on crowded public transport, the risk of the virus getting to work increases. You should show flexibility in this area, including the ability for employees to work from different locations where possible, take into account different start and end times, and help employees get on and off.
Other mitigating measures include:
- Increase the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning, including disinfecting areas with high footprints or frequent contact points.
- Keep the activity time, during which the physical distance cannot be kept, as short as possible.
- Use screens or barriers to separate people.
- If possible, use back-to-back or side-to-side work (instead of face to face).
- Reduce the number of people each person contacts by using "fixed teams or partnerships" (so that each person works with only a few other people).
If employees have to work with more than a small group of steady partners in person for an extended period of time, you need to assess whether the activity can be carried out safely. Nobody should be forced to work in an unsafe work environment.
When making your assessment, you should pay particular attention to whether the people performing the work are particularly susceptible to COVID-19. Risk assessments are required by law for pregnant women regardless of the size of the company. For more information, see the website of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the COVID-19 virus infection and pregnancy publication.
You should also consider the security implications of changes that you want to make to your operations and practices in response to COVID-19, as changes can pose new or changed security risks that may need to be mitigated.
The recommendations in the rest of this document should be considered as you go through this process. You can also consider any advice that has been created specifically for your industry, such as from trade union associations or unions. E.g. UK Hospitality Cymru has more information on many parts of the visitor economy that can be helpful in this process: including hotels and other guest accommodation, restaurants, pubs and bars, amusement parks and holiday parks.
If you have not already done so, you should assess the risks from COVID-19 in your workplace as soon as possible. If you're operating now, you've probably already done a lot of these things. We recommend that you use this document to identify other improvements that you should make.
You should consider the security implications of changes that you want to make to your operations and practices in response to COVID-19, as changes can pose new or changed security risks or accessibility issues that may need to be mitigated. Sections 4 and 8 explain the most important safety aspects and notes.
While the health risk from COVID-19 is on everyone's lips, the threat of terrorism remains significant. It is important that companies and other organizations continue to be aware of these threats as they attempt to adjust their operations to ensure that security measures are proactively adjusted to support and complement other changes.
3.2 Share the results of your risk assessment
You should share the results of your risk assessment with your employees. If possible, consider posting the results on your website, a dedicated employee website, or an employee communication portal (and we would expect all employers with over 50 employees to do so). There may also be other industry standards or brands that you can use to show visitors, guests, and customers that you have carefully considered risks.