Coronavirus Q&A

April 20, 2020 Posted by Roger Hart

Following on from Coronavirus Q&Aa recent IOSH Webinar we thoughts we’d share a Coronavirus Q&A which took place which we hope you’ll find useful during the lockdown.  We are still working, albeit from home, but are completing a range of work for clients, particularly those in the construction sector. It looks like construction will be last out and also first in when it comes to getting back to work and so we will use the lessons learnt there to help all our other clients when the time comes.

If you’ve got questions on the points raised below, please contact us for clarification if you’re a Safety~net retained client.  Our thanks to Simon Joyston-Behcel for their insight on these matters.

Coronavirus Q&A

  • What is the requirement for maintaining first aiders in adequate numbers during the lockdown?
    • There is no new specific guidance but it is, as normal, down to your risk assessment.  Please also be aware that first aid will have some higher risks due to COVID – we have a first aid flowchart which might be useful so contact us if you would like a copy.  If you need help to decide on numbers we can provide a template for this calculation.  Please also remember that transmission can be both ways as not all persons who are affected develop symptoms (asymptomatic carriers).
  • We are operating but cannot get our plant inspected as we would normally for lifting gear and pressure systems – can we still operate?
    • Again we are looking at risk assessment here as you need to build a case as to why you have chosen to continue to operate the plant.  You will also need to consider what further precautions you might put into place in the interim if you do decide to keep operations going.  It would also be advisable to keep records of your attempts to source a competent engineer to carry out the inspections.  You should consider the potential for harm carefully, should a failure occur what is the likely result?  Damage to property or damage to persons, what about damage to secondary systems?  Has the equipment functioned reliably and not required maintenance in the past or does it have a history of issues being raised in past inspections?
    • All of the above plus any specifics should form part of your risk assessment.  Please note that HSE’s current approach is that all inspections should be in place, i.e. there is currently no derogation of the Statutory Inspection requirements (examples are lifting equipment and accessories, pressure systems and local exhaust ventilation systems).  However, as of 22/04/20 we have the following update from HSE; HSE will adopt a pragmatic and proportionate approach
  • We have many staff now working from home, can they undertake their own risk assessments for homeworking?
    • Simply put, yes, this is a good idea and also a means to distribute information on good practice.  In fact, this is something which we have championed for many years.  If you would like a copy of our checklist and are a retained client please contact us. If you are not retained then consider a summary document of the good practice you would expect to see and supplement this with relevant questions to cover the DSE, electrical and health requirements. You might want to send a better chair home if staff are working all day, perhaps a courier to despatch their existing office chair if that’s practicable.  Or a screen and separate keyboard could be purchased and expensed.
  • What about home insurance cover for our staff, are there actions we need to take?
    • Your own business insurance would typically cover an employee at work or at home.  In contrast, employees home insurance is unlikely to give them cover for work-related activities.  This is difficult to pin down in terms of good advice and so we would suggest a conversation with your broker/insurer to advise them of the situation you have and get their advice.
  • We want to get back to work but are finding implementing a 2-metre rule to be impracticable, what can we do?
    • We would advise treating this like Q2 above and risk assessing your specific situation. You’ll need to be very careful in how you can justify not aligning with this guidance and have a good reason for doing so plus other robust controls in place.  Be careful about assessing the vulnerability of your workers, assessing the potential loss and consider who in the workforce has vulnerable people within their home.  What we would advise against is simply implementing facemasks and relying on people to protect themselves.
  • Our offices are unoccupied but we would like to arrange for a staff member to visit to review fire and security arrangements and test alarms – can we do this and is it essential?
    • Yes, essential in terms of the lockdown means that it is necessary (essential) to the individual rather than the context of wider society. These kinds of checks are justifiable and whilst we would not see it as reasonable for a group of staff to visit, occasional visits of this type seem to be justifiable as essential journeys under the current guidance.  Again, we would suggest a small, simple risk assessment is in place. You might also want to consider the legionella risks and run unused water outlets at this time, speak to your L8 inspection provider for details.

If you are a retained client on our competent person service, Safety~net, we have a range of other documents available for your use, just call the office or your consultant for more help.  See below for more help and resources in support of this Coronavirus Q&A

Toolbox talks

Resources;

We hope that this information helps you.  If you have any questions relating to Coronavirus please contact your retained safety consultant if you are a member of our Safety~net competent person service. We have a number of documents available for retained clients including model risk assessments, flow charts on isolation, administering first aid and home working, toolbox talks for office-based and field-based staff and similar documents which are being developed each day.  We’re still open, our phone lines are live and we’re ready to help when needed.