Coronavirus Risk Assessments - Working In or From Vehicles
With more businesses reopening as the lockdown restrictions are eased, the emphasis has now moved to protecting workers as they start to return to work. One of the main tools for doing so is the Coronavirus risk assessment, which will identify the danger areas and lay out steps that should be taken to ensure employees are able to work safely.
For those whose work is done either from or in vehicles, there are particular issues that need attention and government guidance has been issued setting out recommendations that should be followed by employers.
Who is included?
Those that are classed as working in or from vehicles include:
The lockdown restrictions are being eased more slowly in Scotland, but the information in the UK Government guidance should be borne in mind by Scottish companies considering the ongoing phased return to work. The guidance must be considered in conjunction with Scottish Government guidance as well as guidance from HSE and any industry specific bodies.
The objective is that all employers should carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment.
Employers have a legal responsibility to protect workers from risk to their health and safety. Therefore, everything practicable must be done to eliminate or mitigate the risks, while recognising the risk of COVID-19 cannot be eliminated completely.
The risk assessment should address the risks of COVID-19 and put in place sensible measures to do so. This does not mean huge amounts of paperwork must be produced, and employers with fewer than five employees do not have to write their risk assessment down.
Employers have a duty to consult their employees and, by discussing with them the risks and how best to minimise them, show that their health and safety is being taken seriously. The workers protected by the new measures will likely have the best ideas on how to implement them practically. Employers must consult the health and safety representative if there is one selected from a trade union, or alternatively, a representative chosen by the workers.
Employers and workers should aim to work together collaboratively to try to overcome and eliminate the risk of COVID-19 to the best of their abilities.
If employers are not taking action to comply with the Public Health England guidance then the local authority or the HSE can consider taking a range of actions to improve management of workforce risks. The HSE can issue specific advice to employers through enforcement notices to ensure proper compliance and secure improvements.
Managing the risks
The steps that employers decide to put in place following their risk assessment should be sector specific and applicable to the area in which their employees are working. Some steps will not be applicable or suitable for employees who work from or in vehicles and they should be adapted accordingly.
Employers should work with employees and other relevant contractors to put in place measures which are practical and reduce the risk to the best of their ability dependent on the situation. Employers should work through the following steps in order:
Increase the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning in every workplace.
Employers should try to make working from home the first option in every situation where it is possible. Where this is not possible, employers should try to ensure the workplace complies with the current social distancing measures in place such as working at least two metres apart at all times.
If people must work face-to-face for sustained amounts of time with more than a small group or fixed partner then the employer must assess whether the activity must go ahead as nobody is obliged to work in an unsafe environment.
Where social distancing measures cannot be followed, employers should consider whether the job is essential for the business to operate. If so, employers should take mitigating actions to minimise the risk. These include:
Increasing frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.
Keeping activity time as short as possible.
Using screens or barriers to separate workers from each other.
Using back-to-back or side-to-side working wherever possible.
Reduce contact with others by fixed teams or partnering.
Risk assessments should also account for those workers who are more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19.
Once the risk assessment has been completed, the results should be shared with the workforce. For all businesses who have more than 50 employees, the results should be published on the business website.
Looking for more advice or guidance on this matter, or any other business-related issue?
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