Coronavirus Health and Safety Risk Assessment April 2020

The Risk

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS. The official name for this  disease, is Covid-19. It was first identified in Wuhan City, in Hubei province, China and has spread throughout the world.

Common signs of infection include:

  • respiratory symptoms

  • fever or high temperature above 38 degrees

  • sudden cough

  • shortness of breath and breathing difficulties

  • Muscular aches

  • Loss of sense of smell

Generally, more severe cases occur in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease, those from the Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic community (BAME) however, young people and those with no previously reported medical conditions have died from the virus.

All employees are required to complete a medical/first aid questionnaire at the start of their employment. Employees are being requested to update these to ensure that those with underlying or long term health conditions, placing them at a higher risk assessed accordingly. Those in public facing roles will be prioritised.

Coronavirus is usually transmitted through contact with an infected person but the virus can also be passed on by touching infected surfaces/objects such as door handles and light switches.

Whilst many people infected by the virus may suffer minor symptoms or possibly be unaware that they have had it, the virus has also claimed many lives throughout the UK and across the world.

The overall risk to those undertaking work on behalf of the Trust is low.

Who could be affected by the virus and how?

The Coronavirus is indiscriminate and can infect anyone exposed to it, however the severity of its affects is usually dependant on the pre-existing conditions discussed. Therefore employees, Contractors, tenants and anyone involved in the undertakings of the Trust have been considered in this assessment.

Likelihood of Contracting Coronavirus in the work environment.

Employees who carry out customer facing roles such as Neighbourhood Managers, Operatives, Caretakers and Scheme Managers are more likely to come into contact with those infected by the virus. However, those employees who regularly meet with other individuals and organisations in the work environment, such as suppliers and contractors, are also at a higher risk than those who are predominantly office based, such as in administrative, planning and call centre roles. 

External contractors carrying out essential work on the Trust’s behalf are also at risk from exposure to the virus as their activities usually involve visiting the Trusts properties and in some cases having direct contact with tenants in their homes.

Tenants and visitors to Trust properties are also at risk from Coronavirus. The aim of this assessment is to ensure that they are not exposed to any additional risk from the Trusts activities so far as reasonably practical.

Control measures

The Trust acknowledges that it is not able to influence the severity of effects from Coronavirus on individuals, however, there are measures that the organisation can implement to reduce the likelihood of exposure in all its workplace environments. These measures have been implemented taking into account Government guidance and advice using methods such as social distancing and assessing individual vulnerability.

Additional consideration has been given to the need to comply with other health and safety related standards and legislation such as Gas Servicing, Electrical Inspections and Lift Maintenance (list not exhaustive). This safety critical work will continue where necessary to ensure that tenants and employees are not exposed to additional risks and compliance is maintained.

Review of assessment

The measures implemented will continue to be reviewed in accordance with business needs and as our knowledge and understanding of the virus develops. This will ensure that the most effective measures are in place to reduce the level of risk to a level as low as reasonably practical.

It is anticipated that a full review of control measures will be required to ensure office safety arrangements are in place ahead of re-occupancy.

Communication and decision making

The Senior Management Group including the Trusts health, safety and Compliance Manager meet weekly to review the Trust’s Coronavirus management arrangements to ensure that best practice and Government guidance is being followed. (At the early stage of the outbreak these meetings were held three times per week to ensure that timely decisions were made).

Decisions made are cascaded to Line Managers and recommendations provided to the Executive Management team for further action.

Meetings minutes and decision logs are recorded and stored in the Trusts Coronavirus planning folder located on the Trusts R drive under Corporate Services.

Assessment of employee groups

Employees and Contractors with customer facing roles

Initial risk rating before control measures:

High

Control measures:
  • All employees have been made aware of Government advice on how to control the spread of Coronavirus by ‘Workplace’ online portal, face to face instruction from line managers, noticeboard posts, Management communications on Trust talk, and during meetings and telephone conversations with Managers and the health and safety team. This includes ensuring employees report symptoms to their Managers as soon as possible and ensuring those visiting sites feel empowered to refuse to enter properties if they do not feel it safe to do so.

  • Employees have completed individual health forms to bring the Trust up to date with any pre-existing on underlying health issues that could be affected by Coronavirus. These forms have been assessed and employees at a higher risk have temporarily been removed from customer facing roles to reduce the likelihood of contact with the virus.

  • Those deemed to be at high risk and those identified as ‘shielding’ are not permitted to work outside their own homes until advised that it is safe to do so.

  • Employees who cannot work safely or where demand for their services has reduced due to the virus may also have been furloughed under the Government Job Retention Scheme, effectively removing them from the work environment (and work related risk).

  • All non - essential work that requires entry to individual homes has been suspended to reduce the likelihood of exposure or spreading the virus. Only safety critical work such as Electrical inspections, Gas safety certifications and emergency repairs will continue in these areas.

  • Additional stocks of Personal Protective Equipment has been purchased and distributed to employees who are continuing to work, these include face masks, protective gloves, overalls, face shields and hand sanitizer. Employees have been made aware of how to use this.

  • All communications with tenants (phone calls, letters and texts) ask them if they are displaying symptoms or are shielding/isolating before bookings are made.

  • The use of pooled electric cars has been suspended to avoid cross-contamination.

  • Work in non – occupied areas such as voids can take place providing social distancing is maintained (2m apart from others) and vehicles/equipment are not shared.

  • Site based operatives do not attend offices unless by appointment and maintain distancing at all times.

  • Materials are either delivered to site by suppliers maintaining distancing or by attending Travis Perkins after an order has been placed on-line and a date and time for collection has been agreed. Materials are left out for collection and no personal contact is made.

  • Sharing Trust vehicles in temporarily prohibited (unless by member of the same household).

  • Face to face contact with vulnerable tenants has been reduced to a minimum safe limit with regular contact being made but phone.

  • Senior Management Group meeting weekly to assess current Government guidance and feedback recommendations to Executive Management, Line Managers and employees.

  • Contractors working on behalf of the Trust will only undertake safety and compliance critical work and provide their own written risk assessment to address the Coronavirus risks for review and retention by the Trust.

  • Meetings with residents groups are suspended or carried out using web based communication platforms.

Residual risk rating after control mesasures:

Low

Employees who are usually office based

Initial risk rating:

Medium

Control measures:
  • All employees have been made aware of Government advice on how to control the spread of Coronavirus by ‘Workplace’, face to face instruction from line managers, noticeboard posts, Management communications on Trust talk, and during meetings and telephone conversations with Managers and the health and safety team. This includes ensuring employees report symptoms to their Managers as soon as possible..

  • Employees have completed individual health forms to bring the Trust up to date with any pre-existing on underlying health issues that could be affected by Coronavirus. These forms have been assessed and employees at a higher risk have been required to work from home if their role permits it.

  • IT equipment and office furniture has been made available to allow those working from home to do this as safely as possible.

  • All employees working from home have completed a home workstation assessment and where necessary additional equipment and advice has been provided for support.

  • Follow up telephone calls have been made to all employees to ensure that a safe working conditions are in place.

  • Home workers are regularly contacted by line Managers to discuss and assess their wellbeing.

  • Regular information updates and guidance is published on Trust talk including subjects such as ‘Working from home Wellbeing’ and ‘Mental health Awareness’ and via Line Managers to employees.

  • Ongoing individual on line (YODA) training

  • Most work from Fairfax house has been suspended with only a skeleton staff still present to allow essential service, that cannot be carried out from home environments, to continue.

  • Those employees working at Fairfax maintain social distancing (2m apart) and are issued with Lone Working devices to ensure their safety.

  • Safety standards for those remaining in Fairfax house, such as First Aid and Fire Warden arrangements have been assessed.

  • Reception is closed to the public.

  • No face to face meetings are being held and where necessary Web based meetings (such as WeBx and Skype) are being utilised.

  • Employees who cannot work safely or demand for their services has reduced due to the virus may also have been furloughed under the Government Job Retention Scheme, effectively removing them from the work environment (and work related risk).

  • Senior Management Group meeting weekly to assess current Government guidance and feedback recommendations to Executive Management, Line Managers and employees.

  • Contractors working on behalf of the Trust will only undertake safety and compliance critical work and provide their own written risk assessment to address the Coronavirus risks for review and retention by the Trust, this includes office cleaners.

  • Office cleaning of hard surfaces is undertaken regularly.

Residual Risk after control measures:

Low