As the owner of KomQAT Health & Safety my job is to help small businesses and freelancers, such as you, keep safe and comply with all health and safety legislation and guidance. I adopt a very simple and common-sense approach to Health and Safety by understanding that in the majority of cases the risk cannot be eliminated completely, but can be greatly reduced by proper risk assessment and management.
Though there’s not much information about how COVID-19 spreads, it’s currently known that the main transmission routes are by respiratory droplets, by direct contact with infected persons, or by contact with contaminated objects and surfaces.
If you are a small business or are self-employed and can re-open or start trading again shortly, take a look at these five key points from government, and my Health and Safety templates, which you can implement into your business to ensure you, your employees, and your customers are as safe as possible.
Five Key Points to Implement into Your Business
1. Carry out a COVID-19 Risk Assessment
Completing a suitable and sufficient risk assessment will help you understand how your business can reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 to all persons who may be affected by your actions. These persons will include you, your staff, your clients, and anyone else that will potentially come into contact with those people.
This Risk Assessment Template will help you to assess the risk and identify the types of controls that need to go into the assessment. You can use the government’s Working Safely Guide on how to deal with Covid-19 to help you do this.
I’m also providing you with helpful guidance on how to complete a sufficient risk assessment to ensure you are complying with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and also the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. Download my guidance document on How to complete a Risk Assessment.
It’s useful to note that if you have five or more employees then this risk assessment will need to be formally written down, documented, and shared with all relevant persons. If you employ less than five people then you may find it easier to formally document and write it down as well, but you don’t have to!
2. Develop cleaning, handwashing, and hygiene procedures
Getting into the habit of a regular and frequent cleaning regime will ensure that surfaces are wiped down to prevent the spread of the virus. Also make sure that you and your staff have access to handwashing facilities and make sure that hand washing is carried out regularly.
Posters can be displayed in the workplace to remind people to wash their hands using the correct washing technique, and it would be helpful to provide hand sanitisers in each work area if this is possible.
3. Help people work from home
If staff can work from home then they should be encouraged to do so. But remember that if they do work from home then extra measures should be taken to further protect their health and safety. As an employer, you’re responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of your staff at home, just as if they were present in the workplace. If they are Display Screen Equipment (DSE) users then they should carry out a Display Screen Equipment Self-Assessment of their home work station and any recommendations must be carried out by you as an employer. (The definition of a DSE user is someone that uses their computer for an hour or more in a day.)
They may also become a lone worker if they are at home, where they may not have been in the workplace, and therefore additional controls should be adopted to ensure their safety.
A DSE Self-Assessment template and lone-worker procedure note will help you to carry out these self-assessments, simply contact me to request these!
4. Maintain two-metres social distancing, where possible
Because one of the main ways the virus can be transmitted is by respiratory droplets, it is important that a minimum of two metres is kept between all persons if at all possible. Your risk assessment should identify how you are to achieve this. For example, you could have one person to an office, stagger breaks, or stagger start and finish times to minimise the number of persons in any one place at the same time.
5. Where people cannot be two metres apart, manage transmission risk
If it’s not possible to maintain a two-metre distance then your risk assessment must state how the risk of transmission will be reduced to as low as possible. First, you should determine whether the activity needs to be carried out or not. If it does not, then don’t do it! If it does, then, for example, you could put perspex screens up at pinch points where people are forced to come together.
Once you’ve completed the points above, you can then start training your staff on the systems you have put in place to protect themselves and others.
And finally, to prove that you are complying with the above points you should display the “Staying Covid-19 Secure in 2020” poster in a prominent place.
So, that’s everything! These requirements may seem a little bit daunting, but with cooperation and a common-sense approach, you will have your new systems up and running before you know it!
And, I’m here to help. If you need any assistance with the documents I’ve referred to here, or if you’d like me to send you my short Toolbox talk on Covid-19 Awareness, simply contact me.
Kitty Broome is a registered Health and Safety Consultant and a Chartered Member of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. She has 20 years’ experience working in health and safety and started off her career as a Third Officer in the Merchant Navy, which is where her passion for health and safety comes from. She is the owner of KomQAT Health & Safety Consultancy. Please visit www.komqat.com to find out more and to get in touch.