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Back to the workplace: The first step to safe building use

While every business disrupted by COVID-19 will be making plans to return to full operation, a return to workplaces will be tricky for SMEs or large businesses without dedicated health and safety risk management support.

Analysing a building’s layout, physical contact points, HVAC systems and more besides for potential hazards in-use can be a complex process.

Government guidance states that all employers must have a full risk assessment for their business which addresses the risks of COVID-19.

This requirement is not just for offices and includes construction sites, shops or retail branches, warehouses, leisure and hospitality settings too.

Following recent risk assessments of our clients’ workplaces and of course all TFT offices, we have developed a comprehensive process for measuring and responding to risk.

Our goal is to help employees, clients and visitors feel at ease when returning to these buildings.

Photo by TASK

The process takes one to two days.

In that time, our assessments begin by discussing how the client has used the space in the past and wants to use the space in the future – to determine norms and expectations for the workforce. Then, after a physical site inspection, we will produce a full report identifying hazards, establishes who might be harmed, evaluates the risks, records the findings and provides an action plan.

It is also possible to prepare a COVID-19 risk assessment in-house.

If you are planning to take this approach, have a look at the re-opening guidelines produced by RICS, which includes steps and a helpful building checklist to follow. https://www.rics.org/globalassets/rics-website/covid-19-guide—re-opening-of-commercial-buildings-vn2.pdf  

The Health and Safety Executive also has detailed advice, in plain English, which explains what you need to be thinking about. https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/assets/docs/working-safely-guide.pdf

If you have any questions while you are going through this process, or would like formal advice from one of our Chartered Health and Safety practitioners, please get in touch with Shoaib Shaikh.