The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for employees and others who may be affected by their work activities. Where this involves more than 5 employees a written record of the risk assessment must be kept and reviewed regularly as circumstances change. Organisations with less than 5 employees should ensure that CLD staff and volunteers have access to risk assessments for the premises where learning or activity is taking place.
As COVID-19 is a new hazard to the workforce, employers must ensure the risks associated with the workplace must be communicated to everyone involved in CLD activity. Current advice from Public Health Scotland and the Health and Safety Executive should be used in developing a COVID-19 risk assessment. The risk assessment is an evolving document which will require regular review and dynamic assessment of all situations involving CLD staff, volunteers and learners.
Risk assessments will underpin general protocols describing how people can access and use their working environment. These will address questions regarding safely entering the building, moving around within it and using facilities such as offices, networked printers, canteens, toilets and other spaces. Risk assessments will apply to everyone on the site and should be developed by employers in consultation with relevant trade unions, staff and other interested parties.
Easing out of lockdown will require many considerations for CLD staff, volunteers and learners in relation to following public health guidance. These can be categorised into:
- health of staff and service users
- home working
Providers of CLD services are required to carry out a suitable and sufficient COVID-19 risk assessment in order to identify additional hazards as a result of the pandemic. Outcomes should help staff with planning and monitoring to ensure controls remain effective and are updated in light of emerging evidence or changes in public health advice.
Where activity is being resumed, the risks to everyone involved must be controlled so far as is reasonably practicable. This is a risk-led approach to identify and implement sensible measures to control the risks. The assessment should consider what measures need to be implemented to protect the health, safety and welfare of all CLD staff, volunteers and learners. These will be influenced by site specific factors which includes the planning of all face to face activity. This should include considerations of whether instances of people being in close proximity to one another can be minimised or eliminated and what actions are required to ensure close proximity is reduced as far as is reasonably practicable. The current recommendation is for people to avoid close proximity for more than 15 minutes.
Controls should be considered following the hierarchy of control approach. This means prioritising the most effective and reliable preventive measures. Outcomes should explain to others what they are required to do and help staff with planning and monitoring to ensure the controls are implemented and remain effective and are updated in the light of emerging evidence, changes in public health advice or if through monitoring, it is found that control measures require to be altered.
The Health and Safety Executive’s short guide can help to support employers with what they need to do to comply with the law.
If you would like to provide feedback or have any questions related to this guidance please email Elisha.Fisher@gov.scot