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Office COVID-19 Risk Assessment

Posted By:

XL Displays

Date:

03 March 2021

Reading Time:

9 Mins

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Office COVID-19 Risk Assessment

Download Your FREE Coronavirus Risk Assessment

What is a COVID-19 Risk Assessment and Why Must I Do One?

Although many offices are temporarily closed or working with reduced staff onsite during the lockdown, all offices with more than five employees must complete a COVID-19 risk assessment prior to staff returning to work. As an employer, you have a responsibility to your workforce to protect them from harm, in this case from the risk of contracting Coronavirus while in the office.

A COVID-19 risk assessment will help you to:

  • Identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
    - eg. collaborative working, team meetings, open desk banks where people frequently chat or make telephone calls, break rooms or canteens, narrow corridors, bathroom facilities
  • Think about who could be at risk or put others at risk
    - eg. those with underlying health conditions, those caring for elderly relatives, those that cannot work remotely, those with school-age children
  • Decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
    - eg. how often is that person required to be in the office? How long do they spend in the company of others? How effective are social distancing measures? How good is the ventilation?
  • Act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk
    - eg. encourage remote working, install social distancing screens, encourage face coverings, update cleaning regimes, adjust office dynamics

By considering all these points and noting down your responses, you can make your workplace COVID-secure for your staff while ensuring government mandated social distancing measures are in place.

Full information on how to put together your own risk assessment document can be found on the UK Health & Safety Executive website, but we’ve put together a template document for you to work from which can be adapted to suit the individual requirements of your office.

Download Your FREE Coronavirus Risk Assessment

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 and Coronavirus are both names given by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus which is responsible for the current global pandemic.

Symptoms of Coronavirus include:

  • A High Temperature
    If you have a thermometer, this is considered to be 38°C or above, but anyone who feels hot to the touch on their chest or back could well have a fever.
  • A New, Continuous Cough
    Coughing frequently for more than an hour, or three or more coughing fits in 24 hours
  • A Change to Your Sense of Taste or Smell
    Perhaps you cannot smell or taste anything, or you have noticed that things taste or smell different from normal

If you or someone you live with has ANY of these symptoms, you should immediately begin a period of self-isolation and contact your healthcare provider or use the NHS COVID-19 App for advice. If you can book a test locally, you should do so. All members of your household or bubble (whether they have symptoms or not) should self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days unless you receive a negative test result. You should notify anyone outside your household or bubble that you have been in contact with in the past 48 hours – if you have observed correct social distancing rules they do not need to isolate unless advised by the NHS app, or unless they themselves develop symptoms; but they should be extra cautious to avoid others, remain socially distant and keep their hands clean & sanitised as thoroughly as possible.

How is Coronavirus Spread?

Coronavirus, like other infectious diseases such as flu, Norovirus or the common cold, is spread through three main forms of transmission:

  • Contact/Droplet Transmission

Respiratory droplets, which are usually >5-10 μm in diameter, are expelled when an infected person sneezes, coughs, shouts or sings. These cannot travel far or ‘hang’ in the air for long, which is why keeping socially distanced from one another and using protective screens helps to prevent the transmission of the virus through this method.

  • Airborne/Aerosol Transmission

Droplet nuclei or ‘aerosols’ are <5 µm in diameter and remain more actively in the air, particularly in a non-ventilated room. Relatively little is known currently about how this affects the transmission of COVID-19, but studies are showing that the infection rate indoors can be minimised by all parties in the room wearing masks, the room being well ventilated, and reducing the amount of time people spend together indoors.

  • Fomite Transmission

Fomites are surfaces that have been contaminated with respiratory droplets from an infected person, which is why we are asked to sanitise our hands and our contact surfaces regularly. The WHO says that: ‘Despite consistent evidence as to SARS-CoV-2 contamination of surfaces and the survival of the virus on certain surfaces, there are as of yet no specific reports which have directly demonstrated fomite transmission.

How do Social Distancing Measures Help Stop The Spread of Coronavirus?

Social distancing rules require us to:

  • Wear a face covering over our nose and mouth when in indoor public spaces such as supermarkets
  • Remain 2m apart from those not in our ‘bubble’ at all times, indoors and outdoors
  • Set up screens and dividers in offices, shops, hospitality venues and public spaces

The aim of lockdowns and social distancing measures is to slow the spread of Coronavirus in our communities and to bring the ‘R’ rate below 1, at which point the number of people suffering from COVID-19 will be falling rather than rising.

What Measures Can I Take to Set up a COVID-Secure Office?

The UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) advises offices and other workplaces to ensure employees are kept at least 2m apart. Where this is not possible, they recommend using screens and partitions to keep employees safely socially distanced and help prevent the transmission of virus droplets from person to person.

When used in conjunction with taped-off areas, signage, limiting workforce numbers, proper ventilation of offices and education around hygiene and safety measures, social distancing screens can help reduce the transmission of the virus (when kept clean and sanitised regularly).

Perspex screens are an effective way of creating a physical barrier and reducing the risk and spread of airborne infections between employees that work in close proximity. Protective screens play an important part in the fight against infection if installed correctly and used in conjunction with other hygiene procedures and distancing measures.

If you require any further advice on setting up social distancing measures in your office as part of a COVID-19 risk assessment, please get in touch via our Contact Us page or call our team on 01733 511030.

Download Your FREE Coronavirus Risk Assessment

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