All employers have a legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees so far as reasonably practicable.
In most circumstances, employers will also have a duty to prevent their employees’ exposure to COVID-19, or if this is not reasonably practicable, ensure it is adequately controlled.
What is reasonably practicable will be judged on a case-by-case basis; an organisation must weigh up the severity of a risk against the resources needed to mitigate or remove that risk.
An organisation has an obligation to assess the risks faced by its employees as a result of its operations; at the present time, this will also include an assessment of the risks due to COVID-19. If an organisation has five or more employees, this assessment must be documented in writing.
In addition, the Government has stated that it expects any organisations with more than 50 employees to publish the result of their COVID-19 risk assessment on their website.
The risk assessment should consider the risks faced by each category of employee, including those who are in vulnerable groups or at higher risk. On completing its risk assessment, an organisation will be able to identify and implement suitable and sufficient measures to mitigate the risks identified.
The assessment will not only help to identify what is required but also the extent to which it is required. For example, a COVID-19 risk assessment could be used to identify the contents of any enhanced cleaning regime and the frequency with which it’s required.
Organisations are required to consult with their employees about the measures that are being put in place to ensure their safety. One key aspect of a successful return to workplaces will be effective communication, to ensure that employees know and understand what changes have been made to their normal practices and procedures.
The risks posed by COVID-19 are unprecedented and this has been a challenge for many organisations as they assess and plan for their return to work. Considering these issues, asking an expert third-party to review risk assessments may have several benefits:
Tim Coolican, partner, and Lorna Kenyon, solicitor, at Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP
Getting back to “normal” while adhering to the Government’s COVID Secure guidelines is no easy task. RoSPA can help to provide reassurance to you and your organisation by reviewing your risk assessments.
Check out our COVID-19 Back-to-Work Review, which we’re delivering to give you peace of mind.
- The third-party review will help to identify areas of improvement and will allow best practice to be shared between organisations and sectors
- Seeking third-party verification may help to demonstrate that an organisation has taken all reasonably practicable steps, in the event of a later legal challenge
- An independent review may also assist in reassuring employees and aid effective communication of the measures being taken to ensure their safety.
Posted: 6/8/2020 3:58:09 PM