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COVID-19 – Workplace Risk Assessment All Offices

Last updated on 6 Aug 2021
Hazard The transmission of COVID-19 in offices, which then endangers the health of those in the workplace.
Who might be harmed and
how?
Staff, visitors, contractors, facilities staff and anyone who visits offices is at risk and might be infected by the virus through transmission from infected individuals.
Scope The purpose of this risk assessment is to follow the Government guidance https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/offices-and-contact-centres
and to use this framework to identify hazards and control measures to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in offices. The scope of this risk assessment is the areas within offices occupied by HRA. 
The landlord is responsible for undertaking a risk assessment of the common areas.

Control Measures

Reduced capacity in offices with voluntary attendance

Control Measures: Colleagues in vulnerable groups

Those who have underlying health conditions; new and expectant mothers; Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employees; vulnerable family members who need to be shielded; employees with personal or emotional worries regarding working in the office. All vulnerable staff groups – increased exposure to COVID-19 leading to ill health symptoms of varying degrees, possible hospitalisation or possible fatality. Increased anxiety and stress.

Control Measure Detail How it is achieved
From Monday 26 July offices will be open.
Attendance is voluntary and no attendance should be mandatory over the summer. Managers and staff should discuss any issues to confirm normal availability – whether in a vulnerable group, or whether there are other personal concerns about returning to the office – for example travelling, general anxiety etc.
Staff must not go into the office if feeling unwell in any way, and should report to their line manager.
The COVID-19 age calculator, a self-risk assessment tool, is available to all colleagues to help inform their decisions. This risk assessment can be used as part of the discussion between the individual and line manager to help identify any potential concerns. However, the content of the age calculator does not need to be shared. 
When booking a desk, colleagues should consider their personal risk assessment and ensure attendance doesn’t present a significant risk.
Those wishing to source the Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) can do this through the government website.
HRA strongly encourage staff to get a vaccine, follow government guidance and undertake LFTs before coming into the office.
Staff members should discuss any concerns with their manager.

Control Measures: Commuting into office

Increased exposure to COVID-19 on crowded public transport, leading to ill health symptoms of varying degrees, possible hospitalisation or possible fatality.

Control Measure Detail How it is achieved
Face coverings should be worn by all employees when travelling to work via public transport.
It is an individual's responsibility to wear face coverings in crowded places.
Masks are available in all HRA offices if staff forget or lose their personal masks.
Staff can travel outside of peak hours if appropriate.
All staff are encouraged to get a vaccine and use the NHS COVID-19 app.

Control Measures: Work Areas

Increased exposure to COVID-19 leading to ill health symptoms of varying degrees, possible hospitalisation or possible fatality. Increased anxiety and stress

Objective: To maintain social distancing between individuals when they are at their workstations.

Control Measure Detail How it is achieved
To give further reassurance, it is expected that colleagues will wear a face mask at times when moving around the office (unless exempt) i.e. entering and leaving work; making tea/coffee; comfort breaks etc.

It is expected that staff will also maintain the 1m+ distance wherever possible. Masks can be removed while seated at your workstation or in a meeting.
Face masks will be provided in the office. Floor signage will remain – this must be complied with at all times.
Colleagues must follow the safe use guidance below
• wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand-sanitiser before putting a face mask on, and after removing it
• when wearing a face mask, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
• change your face mask if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
• continue to wash your hands regularly
• dispose of used face masks in rubbish bins provided
• practise social distancing wherever possible

Those colleagues feeling anxious about returning to our offices should be confident that these controls remain in place
Layout reviewed and processes to allow people to work further apart from each other. Staff will sit in a zigzag fashion. Only desks identified by Paula Myers through the desk booking system must be used in our offices.

Where offices have a one-way system in place, everyone should follow.
Staff are encouraged to leave a gap between them and their colleagues when working at work-stations. Signage / matrix / advice from Paula Myers will provide more information on where to sit to ensure safe distancing maintained.
Desk booking system in place for all offices (Matrix for London, via Paula Myers for all other offices)
Access to offices will be restricted depending on the number of desks available. All staff accessing the office must have prior approval from Paula Myers. Book a desk before coming to the office to help us manage availability and numbers attending – you can do this through Matrix for London and Paula Myers for all other sites.
Staff must use the desk they have been booked to use.

All desks will be cleaned daily. Staff are asked not to change desks during the day. If a change of desk is needed then staff are asked to clean keyboards, mice, chair arms, controls, surfaces and desk before moving.
Cleaning materials are provided to allow staff to facilitate this.

Limits on staff numbers help limit transmission and sharing facilities.

All staff are encouraged to use the desk they have been booked and not to use desks that haven’t been booked.
Handwashing, for at least 20 seconds, should be frequent throughout the day and particularly after touching surfaces. Soap and hot water available in all toilet and kitchen areas. Sanitiser available in various areas on all floors.
Notices throughout the office spaces to remind colleagues about hand washing.
Staff will use electronic documents rather than paperwork. All colleagues to read and agree to this risk assessment before getting approval from Paula Myers.
Printers removed from all offices except Manchester. Cleaning supplies provided in the print room in Manchester.
If colleagues need to pass items to others, they must agree a drop zone so they do not come into the social distancing area. Wash hands after handling items. All colleagues to read and agree to this risk assessment before getting approval from Paula Myers.
All offices reviewed regarding ventilation – to ensure spaces are appropriately ventilated and to identify areas that are poorly ventilated so action can be taken. Paula Myers to contact all landlords to ask for their risk assessment / ventilation assessment

Where landlords do not provide this information or where this falls to the HRA (for example at our Manchester office) Paula Myers to ask Integral / Mace to perform assessment for HRA and put in place actions to address.

Summer occupation will be kept at low numbers to help manage this where information has yet to be received.

Offices where windows can be opened (Newcastle and Manchester), staff are encouraged to open windows when attending the office and to close them when leaving at the end of the day.

Control Measures: Meeting Rooms

Objective: To reduce transmission due to face-to-face meetings and maintain social distancing in meetings.

Control Measure Detail How it is achieved
To help manage capacity and ensure rooms are clean, meeting rooms will only be available to those who have booked via the Matrix booking system or Paula Myers for offices that don’t have Matrix.

Meeting room occupancy rules must not be exceeded. Doors to be left open to increase air flow (where possible). Meeting room desks and chairs to be wiped down after use.
There will be 50% occupancy in meeting rooms. All meetings to be on Teams unless social distancing can be maintained. Meeting room guidance produced and cleaning products available in meeting room.
Smaller pods, huddle areas or breakout areas will only be used by one person unless social distancing can be achieved. Staff encouraged to read this risk assessment prior to using offices.

Control Measures: Communal Areas

Objective: To reduce transmission when accessing communal areas.

Control Measure Detail How it is achieved
When negotiating common areas in the building, landlord signage and instructions must be followed, including pinch-points. Colleagues to follow landlord requirements within individual offices.

Individual requirements for each office summarised and available on the intranet.
Staff must use the hand sanitiser provided on arrival and prior to exiting the building. To be provided by landlord and be clearly visible.
Wherever possible staff should use the stairs to access and egress the upper floors. In line with landlord requirements.
If using the lift, ensure landlord’s guidance is followed and maximum occupancy not exceeded. In line with landlord requirements – masks should be worn in lifts and moving around building.
Sanitise hands on arrival at desk Hand sanitiser available on all floors. Signage at entry to floors.
Access cards – cards must not be held in the mouth and must not be shared with other colleagues. All colleagues to read and agree to this risk assessment before approval.

Hand sanitiser available on access and egress to each floor.
All colleagues to read and agree to this risk assessment before approval.

Hand sanitiser available on access and egress to each floor.
Waste disposal Large recycling bins provided to every office.
Kitchen areas No tea/coffee or milk currently available – signs have been placed to encourage staff to bring in their own tea, coffee, cups and cutlery and to wash them after use.

Control Measures: Lone Working

Increased risk of being unable to raise the alarm in the event of an emergency.

Control Measure Detail How is it achieved
Staff must have approval from Paula Myers before going into the office. Managers must arrange to check in regularly with staff to ensure they are safe and well, either by IM or by call – keep in touch time (three times per days). Those who arrive at the office without prior approval from Paula Myers will be refused entry.
Staff must let their line manager know when they are going into the building and when they have left the building. Information provided to staff.
Hygiene/cross contamination Even if they are alone, staff should continue to follow COVID-19 procedures to reduce the risk of cross contamination

Control Measures: Emergency Arrangements

Inadequate emergency arrangements due to lack of staff on site and social distancing measure

Control Measure Detail How it is achieved
Staff with Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) will not be able to access the upper floors until adequate arrangements can be made to safely evacuate. Those with PEEPs to discuss with Paula Myers to ensure that these are still supportable over the summer. Individual risk assessment to be carried out.

When desk booking forms staff are asked to inform Paula Myers about PEEP and requirements. Paula Myers to determine how this is deliverable.
All staff to be vigilant and if they discover a fire raise the alarm immediately and leave the building. Fire notices displayed throughout building.
Quick guide in office guide on intranet.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FIGHT THE FIRE.
If the fire evacuation alarm is activated staff must leave the building by the nearest available exit immediately. There is no need to follow social distancing, evacuating the building in an emergency is important. Staff will follow the fire safety measures. They will be notified whether it is safe to return to the office. Following evacuation notices and information disseminated to managers for distribution. Agreement to adhere to this assessment when booking desk.
Fire Marshalls – Due to the reduced capacity within the office, the most senior member of staff on the floor will ensure the floor is cleared before exiting the building and will advise Information Commissioner’s Officer (ICO) that their floor is clear. Senior member of staff to inform Paula Myers as soon as it is safe to do so.

Staff notified via internal communications. Where Facilities Management are available, they will ensure floors are cleared during an emergency evacuation.
Colleagues are reminded to keep mobile devices turned on to be contactable during an emergency/incident. Agreement to comply with this assessment.
Emergency plans reviewed at each office. Training and signing document before attending site.
Consider emergency arrangements for lone working within offices. Colleagues must make themselves aware of the evacuation process for each office. Regular checks with management throughout the day.

Control Measures: First Aid Arrangements

Objective: To keep the workplace clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces.

Control Measure Detail How it is achieved
Staff must not come into the office if they feel at all unwell. If staff feel unwell while in the office, they should notify their manager and then go home immediately.
If staff need urgent medical attention or minor first aid, they should contact reception.
Process agreed with reception.
Ensure colleagues are aware of who the First Aiders are. Due to the reduce number of staff in the office, there may or may not be a first aider available on site. Estates to review current list of trained First Aiders (some trained First Aiders may since have become homeworkers).
Training to be refreshed.
Ensure first aid kit provisions are adequate for current climate/environment. Appointed persons to carry out usual content checks and date checks, and to add gloves and masks to first aid kits.

Control Measures: Kitchen/Shower Hygiene – handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets, showers

Objective: To help everyone keep good hygiene through the working day.

Control Measure Detail How it is achieved
Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency and avoid touching face. Posters are up in toilets and other key areas to advise on hand washing.
Providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms. Hand sanitisers are available in all office areas. Relook at location of hand sanitisers and determine from amount of people attending office if more will be required.
Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets and showers to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible. Frequency of all surface cleaning in toilets and tea points increased, in addition to the full evening clean. Positioning of usage signage varies depending on type of the facilities.
As a general principle, there will be no more than two people in multi-occupancy facilities. To ensure compliance with this, washbasins, cubicles and urinals will be closed off to lower the number of people able to use each toilet block. Appropriate signage to be placed both outside, (for single toilets with vestibules) and inside the washroom for the remaining toilets.
Enhancing cleaning for busy areas. Each person to keep their specific area clean and tidy with cleaning products provided. Each area has its own wipes on desks, also in meeting rooms.
Where possible, providing paper towels as an alternative to hand dryers in handwashing facilities. Paper towels are provided in toilets – ensure replenishment of towels.
Maximum occupancy levels will be shown in the area of the toilets, kitchens etc and floor signage provided for distancing. Signage in place. Where more than one person can access, 1m distance must be maintained where possible.
Kitchen will be cleaned regularly. Staff to wipe down handles (microwave, fridge, zip tap, cupboards etc.) prior to and after use. Staff asked to bring in own crockery/cutlery and to wash immediately and store in own locker. Cleaning products and paper towels located in kitchen along with signage on use.

Colleagues advised of requirement to provide own cups in updated guidance.
If someone presents with COVID-19 symptoms, a deep clean of the area will be carried out and track and trace guidelines followed. All colleagues advised not to attend if feeling at all unwell.

Stress and Mental Health

Objective: To ensure staff are supported during this pandemic

Control Measure Detail How it is achieved
Regular keep in touch calls/meetings planned. Occupational Health referral available if required. Encourage everyone to talk openly about how they’re feeling. Resources available on wellbeing pages on intranet. Everyone encouraged to take regular breaks and to take leave. Information promoted via Wellbeing Group and intranet.
Stress risk assessment available on Stay Safe at Work pages. Wellbeing Reps in all teams and regular wellbeing meetings taking place. Regular wellbeing activities encouraged. Manager stress risk assessment training available and stress risk assessment for individuals briefing planned. All colleagues have access to Headstart app.
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