What do I need to do to get my business ‘back to work’ safely?

Following the Governments’ announcement on the 10th of May of its ‘road map out of lockdown,’ some businesses are being encouraged to get back up and running and operating safely from this week. As a business owner, you may be asking what action you need to take to ensure that this can happen and how you can get people back into a safe working environment. To ensure your compliance it’s important to focus on five key points:

  1. Work from home if you can – all reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. Where they cannot the Government message is that ‘you should go to work’.
  2. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible – employers should re-design workspaces to maintain 2-metre distances between people. Other options could include staggering start times, creating one-way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or/and changing seating layouts in break rooms.
  3. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk – employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.
  4. Reinforcing cleaning processes – workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitizer at entry and exit points.
  5. Carry out a COVID-19 Risk Assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions – every business has a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety. This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19. You can use your Risk Assessment to guide and inform the measures you take in your business. Please note, if you have less than 5 staff, this Risk Assessment is not legally required to be written down.

How do I create a Risk Assessment to address COVID 19?

During the creation of your Risk Assessment, you must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers. As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be.

The Government has also launched a series of practical sector-specific guides which you can use to think about the risks you may face. These include controls related to social distancing, personal hygiene, organisational changes and other ways to reduce the risk of COVID 19 transmission which you can include in your Risk Assessment.

If possible, the completed Risk Assessment should be published – the Government is expecting all companies with more than 50 staff to do so.

What could happen if I do not implement safety measures?

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is a UK Government agency set up to regulate and enforce workplace health, safety and welfare. They have the power to impose enforcement actions on businesses which they consider to be falling short of introducing suitable measures to address the risk of COVID-19. Such enforcement actions range from simply providing advice, serving notice on duty holders, issuing cautions or even carrying out prosecutions in some circumstances.

If you’ve broken the law, you will have to pay for the time it takes the Health & Safety Executive to help you put things right. This is called a ‘fee for intervention’ (FFI).

Where can we help?

Following the Government guidelines, our qualified team have published a template Risk Assessment. This can be used as a base allowing you to start to consider the risks and the applicable changes to your business.

Should you require further help, our advisors are happy to talk to you about your specific needs and how we may be able to assist with Risk Assessments, back to work checklists, relevant E-Learning courses, policy documentation and other matters of safety management within your business.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, call 0114 244 4461.