Workplace safety is one of the primary priorities for any business, especially now as we face the current COVID-19 crisis. With the virus affecting businesses the world over, keeping employees safe is more important than ever. Risk assessment is a vital tool for maintaining workplace safety; when you need to evaluate your workplace to improve security and safety for your employees, it’s just what you need.
What Is Risk Assessment?
Simply put, risk assessment is the system used to analyze and evaluate potential hazards around the workplace. It also helps identify methods to minimize the risk of an incident. In this case, your aim is to develop a plan that can help protect your workplace from infection.
Readying the Workplace
Now that you know what to expect from risk assessment, you can start taking steps to fortify the workplace against potential infection. For many businesses, the risk of infection is low. Basic hygiene practices (e.g. washing your hands, covering your mouth when sneezing, and keeping your distance from people showing symptoms) can do much to prevent the spread of infection.
However, as part of your risk assessment strategy, it’s important to develop a plan to help you respond in case of an outbreak.
Your plan should:
- Address how to keep the business operational. For instance, in case significant numbers of employees, contractors, and suppliers can’t come to your location (for example, with video conference tools).
- Inform your personnel about the plan and explain what to do according to the plan. Remember to emphasize vital points like staying home even when they experience mild symptoms or have had to take simple medication (e.g. paracetamol).
- Discuss sick leave arrangements for large numbers of workers. Also, provide information and support to help keep employees safe at home.
Preventing the Spread of Infection
Currently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19, so the best method to deal with the virus is to prevent infection. Site safety inspections can help to identify potential risks (e.g. workers failing to wash their hands or follow sanitation procedures). This will allow you to strengthen your defenses and keep your employees safe.
Some basic measures you can take around the workplace to increase safety can include:
- Providing adequate soap and water and alcohol-based sanitizers so employees can keep their hands clean.
- Making sure sufficient stocks of cleaning supplies are maintained.
- Encouraging frequent hand-washing to eliminate germs, particularly after sneezing and coughing.
- Supplying waste bins with plastic bags so they can be emptied without touching the contents.
- Cleaning high-touch surfaces (e.g. door handles and workstations) regularly to prevent contamination.
- Displaying posters in prominent areas to further promote good hygienic practices (e.g. cough and sneeze etiquette, hand hygiene guidelines, and staying home in case you develop symptoms).
- Promoting teleworking to allow employees to stay in touch while minimizing the risks of infection.
- Supporting more flexible hours to minimize crowding in the workplace.
It’s important to follow proper safety guidelines, even if there haven’t been any signs of infection in your area yet. Remember: an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.