In this section
Objective: That all employers carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment.
As an employer, by law you must protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety. This include risks from COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a workplace hazard. You should manage it in the same way as other workplace hazards. This includes:
- completing a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace
- identifying control measures to manage that risk
Failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and put in place sufficient control measures to manage the risk may be considered a breach of health and safety law.
Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has tools to support you.
You should also consider the security implications of any decisions and control measures you intend to put in place. Any revisions could present new or altered security risks you may need to mitigate.
You do not have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment if you:
- have fewer than 5 workers
- are self-employed
However, you may still find it useful to do so.
Consult your workers
As an employer, you have a legal duty to consult workers on health and safety matters. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work they do and how you will manage the risks from COVID-19.
You may do this by consulting with any recognised trade union health and safety representatives.
If you do not have any, you can consult with a representative chosen by workers. As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be.
Employers and workers should always come together to resolve issues. If you still cannot do this, see below for other steps you can take.
Enforcing authorities identify employers who do not take action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks. When they do, they can take a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. The HSE and your local authority are examples of enforcing authorities.
When they identify serious breaches, enforcing authorities can do a number of things. They include:
- sending you a letter
- serving you with an improvement or prohibition notice
- bringing a prosecution against you, in cases where they identify significant breaches
When an enforcing authority issues you with any advice or notices, you should respond rapidly and within their timescales.
The vast majority of employers are responsible. They will work with the government and their sector bodies to protect their workers and the public.
However, inspectors are carrying out compliance checks nationwide to ensure that employers are taking the necessary steps.
How to raise a concern:
If you’re an employee, you can contact:
- your employee representative
- your trade union if you have one
You can also contact HSE at:
Objective: To reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures, in order of priority.
As an employer, you have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level. You do this by taking preventative measures.
You must work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace to protect everybody’s health and safety.
In the context of COVID-19, this means working through these steps in order:
Make sure that workers and clients who feel unwell stay at home and do not attend the premises. By law, businesses may not require a self-isolating worker to come to work.
Increase how often people wash their hands and clean surfaces in the workplace.
Make every reasonable effort to ensure your workers can work safely. Consider reasonable adjustments for workers or customers with disabilities, including hidden disabilities that are not immediately obvious. Anyone who can work from home should do so. Anyone who cannot work from home should go to their place of work, if COVID-secure guidelines are followed closely. When in the workplace, everyone should make every reasonable effort to comply with the government’s social distancing guidelines. These are 2 metres or 1 metre+ with risk mitigation where 2 metres is not viable.
Fresh air helps to dilute the virus in occupied spaces. Provide adequate ventilation through doors, windows and vents, by mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, or through a combination of both.
Consider these additional control measures where 2 metre social distancing is not possible:
– increase the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning even more
– keep the activity time involved as short as possible
– use screens or barriers to separate clients from each other (this is not necessary between the practitioner and client because practitioners should wear a visor or goggles and a Type II face mask)
– work from behind or from the side of the client, circling them regularly
– avoid skin-to-skin contact unless it’s crucial to the treatment and use gloves where there is a risk of contact with blood or body fluids.
– use a consistent pairing system, fixing which workers work together, if workers have to be within arm’s-length of each other for a long period
When you cannot redesign an activity to meet social distance guidelines, ask if your business can continue without that activity. If it cannot, take all mitigation actions possible to reduce transmission risk between staff.
When providing close contact services it may not be possible to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m+ apart with risk mitigation). So you should use PPE in the form of a visor or goggles and a Type II face mask to mitigate the risk. Further details on which can be found in section 6.
Remind customers and staff to wear face coverings where they’re required. For example, through signage or verbal reminders.
In your assessment you should consider whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
If your building has been unoccupied for a period during any lockdowns, consider legionella risk and HSE advice.
You should consider the recommendations in the rest of this document as you go through this process. You could also consider any advice that has been produced specifically for your sector, for example by trade associations or trades unions.
If you’re currently operating, you will already have carried out COVID-19 risk assessment. You should use this document to identify any further improvements you should make.
You must review the measures you have put in place to make sure they’re working. You should also review them if they may no longer be effective or if there are changes in the workplace that could lead to new risks.
You should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce.
If possible, consider publishing the results on your website. We would expect all businesses with over 50 workers to do so.
All businesses should show their workers and customers that they have:
- properly assessed their risk
- taken appropriate measures to mitigate this
You should do this by displaying a notification:
- in a prominent place in your business
- on your website, if you have one
To show you have followed this guidance, sign and display the notice below.