Is It Safe Yet?

In the past week, I’ve been speaking to a lot of employers who are pulling out all the stops to get their staff back to work and back into the workplace, wherever reasonably practical and safe to do so.

While they’re leaving some staff furloughed and some staff working from home, many employers are trying to get at least a skeleton crew back into the office, working with a safe distance and complying with all the safe working advice that the government have issued.

One of the main criteria for businesses is that they display the ‘Staying Covid-19 Secure in 2020’ poster in the workplace. This has got ‘five steps to safer working together’ on it, the first of which is that they have to have carried out a Covid-19 risk assessment and shared the results with the employees.

It’s interesting because a lot of employers have put some fantastic measures in place and really worked hard to make their workplace a safe place to be, but they haven’t actually documented the risk assessment.

So they’ve done all the thinking. They’ve done all the hard work, but the actual document, which they are legally required to prepare and share with staff, hasn’t been done.

So while we’re seeing some great policies, which include things like:

  • one way systems within the office,
  • closing off communal areas,
  • deep cleaning every weekend,
  • taking employee temperatures on arrival at work,
  • having two teams working so a team A and a team B working one week in the office, one week off from home,

and some other really great innovative policy ideas being developed, what they haven’t done is gone and produced that risk assessment document and shared that with the staff.

So we’re having to advise our employees that in order to be able to display the poster to confirm that their workplace is safe and that they have taken all reasonable and practical measures to ensure that you’re bringing staff back into that Covid-19 safe working environment, that risk assessment needs to be done, documented and shared, not only your employees, but also anybody else that it’s relevant for.

Who else might need to see the risk assessment, or might require a separate risk assessment?

We’ve been doing a lot of work with estate agents as the government have opened up the opportunity for estate agents to return to work as long as they do so safely. But actually, there’s quite a lot of preparation work that the business owner needs to do before that can actually happen. And that risk assessment document is going to be the key to reopening the workplace in a timely and safe manner. Both their vendors and their buyers also need appropriate risk assessments. What’s on a risk assessment for an employee in the workplace is very different to the risk assessment that needs to be done when they are going into somebody else’s home.

Every business sector and every individual business will have their own specific circumstances and working environment. Before employees can return to work, the employer MUST be able to confirm that their workplace is Covid-19 safe and that they have taken all 5 steps to ensuring that they are working safely together. Getting that risk assessment done and shared is the first step from which all other measures follow.

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