The Prime Minister’s announced on 10 May that employees are to go back to work has been followed by Government guidance instructing employers how this is expected to be done whilst the pandemic is ongoing. The overriding message to employers is the need to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment.
The guidance talks of re-designing workspaces, staggering start times, putting barriers in place to keep employees separated… Employers in the transport industry face unique challenges which are acknowledged in two sets of guidance which can be accessed here:
The headlines from the guidance are:
Whilst the guidance provides generic assistance, unfortunately, it doesn’t provide a template risk assessment, leaving employers to draft their own.
Caution needs to be taken when creating any risk assessment, but, in particular, a COVID-19 specific one. What you put in place needs to avoid a conflict with any existing risk assessments and you need to bear in mind equality and discrimination laws. For example, a risk assessment with the best of intentions – designed to protect certain groups that fall within the definition of a “vulnerable person” – may, unintentionally, discriminate against that group.
Employers are left with a tightrope to walk and little to assist them with drafting the risk assessment. To make matters worse, failing to have a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is a criminal offence. To compound matters, the Government have granted the HSE a £14 million cash injection to deal with COVID-19, including enforcement.
To assist employers, Backhouse Jones are providing:
If you have any questions with regard the requirements of the new Government guidance or how to conduct your Covid-19 risk assessment, please contact our Health and Safety team on email@example.com.