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Coronavirus: steps to re-evaluating risk in the workplace

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The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states that an employer “must take reasonable steps for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventative and protective measures” within a business.

In these unprecedented times COVID 19 will affect almost all businesses, which must now review and reassess risk assessments in response to office closures, home working, lone working and skeleton staff issues. The definition of “reasonable steps” is circumstantial in these times of crisis. 

The Health and Safety Executive recommend a five-step process for completing risk assessments and they provide useful guidance notes on their website, which are as follows: 

  1. Identify potential hazards;
  2. Identify who might be harmed by those hazards 
  3. Evaluate risk severity and establish precautions 
  4. Implement change and record findings 
  5. Review your assessment and reassess if necessary 

It remains the responsibility of management within any business to ensure risk is properly assessed and managed. If risk assessments are reviewed and amended this needs to be clearly communicated to all relevant parties and records of any changes should be kept. In this capricious climate, with Government guidance changing day by day, businesses must be prepared to act swiftly. 

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