Consideration should be given within the risk assessment as to whether sector restart might have greater impact on some groups than others depending on social circumstances, health conditions or legally protected characteristics.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Scotland can provide advice on a range of issues such as:
- reasonable adjustments for disabled people and communication with employees on equality issues
- support for pregnant employees or employees on maternity leave
- flexible working for those with caring responsibilities
- how to deal with harassment at work
EHRC have also produced guidance for public sector employers about equality impact assessments and having due regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty and Scottish Specific Duties during the pandemic.’
Service or activity providers must ensure that risk assessments take place at the location of their provision. These are expected to consider all risks identified in respect of COVID-19 transmission and must take account of the relevant guidance from Health Protection Scotland (HPS) set out above.
The assessment should directly address risks associated with COVID-19 so that appropriate measures can be put in place to control those risks for everyone. Providers should consider and set out the mitigations they will introduce in their risk assessment. Mitigations could include, for example, changing the layout in order to maintain physical distancing and improving ventilation.
Health and safety law requires all employers to assess the risk of returning to work while the coronavirus outbreak is ongoing and to put steps in place to manage that risk. The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) short guide to working safely during the coronavirus outbreak can help you, including with a Risk Assessment template. (Please see, in particular, working safely during the pandemic).
If you have fewer than five employees, you don’t have to write anything down, but it might help if you do so. It will be important to make employees/volunteers aware of any new procedures in place, particularly around infection control, increased hygiene procedures and to aid test and protect. Risk is something that must be assessed in all working environments.
Employers have a duty to consult employees on health and safety. Consultation should occur, where relevant, with full and part-time staff, contractors and facilities and cleaning staff. This should be done in advance of re-opening. Risk assessments should be communicated to parents and all staff and volunteers.
The HSE has also provided useful information on talking with your workers about working safely during the coronavirus outbreak.
We have provided further guidance on cleaning practices before reopening.
There is an increased risk of Legionnaire’s Disease when buildings have been out of use, or not running at full capacity. This is because water systems may become stagnant when not in use, increasing the risk of legionella within water supplies. Many public and office buildings have been closed during the COVID-19 crisis, making legionella a legitimate concern as lockdown restrictions are eased.
The Health and Safety Executive have published advice on the risk of Legionella in buildings which are closed or running with reduced occupancy during the COVID-19 crisis on the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) website.
Building owners or operators should undertake a health and safety check of buildings, and deep cleaning prior to reopening where necessary, to mitigate risks. More information can be found on the HSE website.
The shielding category consisted of those at very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
From 31 July there has been a pause made to those who were previously shielding. This means people who were shielding can go back to workplaces where they cannot work from home. However working from home and working flexibly where possible should remain the best option for people who had been shielding. Employers should support people to safely return to work and ensure they can stringently follow public health guidance around physical distancing and hygiene.
There may be the requirement to revert back to some level of shielding in the future at either a national or local level if the number of cases rise again. Those who previously had to shield will be kept informed of any relevant health advice if things do change. You can also keep up to date with the most recent Shielding guidance
If those at increased risk cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to maintain physical distancing. Workplace activities should be carefully assessed to identify if they involve an unacceptable level of risk.
A revised individual risk assessment guidance and tool has been developed to help staff and managers consider the specific risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. It is relevant to all staff, but will be particularly relevant to those who are returning to normal duties after COVID-19 related restrictions, those who are returning to the workplace after working from home or anyone who has a concern about a particular vulnerability to COVID-19.
With regards those who have previously been shielding, we have made some changes to reflect the latest clinical advice on COVID-19. This means that some staff may wish to use the updated version of the tool to determine whether or not their occupational health risk from COVID-19 has changed. Employers and line managers should support staff to do this. This tool does not replace clinical evidence from a GP or medical specialist, where staff have a serious or complex medical condition or Occupational Health Services advice where it has been provided.