Covid-19 Hazards and Controls

Considerations for ongoing scrutiny and implementation of risk assessments in FE This document aims to list some of the potential hazards related to Covid-19 transmission in the workplace and some potential control measures that should be considered for further education colleges during any phased reopening of on-site work. Control measures should follow a hierarchy of control that first seeks to eliminate a hazard and where this is not possible, control the hazard to as low a level as is reasonably practicable. Who can be harmed and how A risk assessment should consider all those who could be affected including employees, contractors, and students, members of the public, and anyone who could be harmed by their business activities. When considering who should return to the workplace and when, certain groups of staff at greater risk will need specific considerations and specific control measures implemented. For instance, current data shows that there is disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on older people, pregnant women, people with underling health conditions, BAME people, and men. This includes a greater risk of contracting Covid-19 and/or greater risk of severe illness or death. Other groups of staff to consider in the risk assessment include: women of childbearing age, temporary workers, migrant workers, transient workers, disabled people, young people, newly recruited and inexperienced workers, lone workers, home workers and contractors. Employers risk assessments, safe systems of work, information and guidance should be easy to follow. Employers should ensure workers understand what hazards and risks they face and the measures in place to control these risks, including any emergency procedures. Everyone should be clear on what they need to do and this will require adequate health and safety training that is relevant and effective. Appropriate levels of supervision should also be in place to ensure safe systems of work are implemented and effective. The table below lists the potential hazards and controls for further education. The list is not exhaustive and you will need to identify hazards and controls specific to your organisation and the people working there. 2 Hazards and hazardous activities Potential controls Transmission of Covid-19 via airborne particles, infected surfaces and waste Group teaching on site/faceto face Homeworking to continue Teaching and assessment delivered online Minimise on-site working requirements Ensure administrative tasks are undertaken from home should be (lesson planning, marking and assessment, meetings) Reduce need for face to face contact while Covid-19 remains widespread and uncontrolled in the community Implement new ways of working to reduce the number of activities and people needed to engage in on site work. E.g. alternative curriculum, teaching methods and assessments. Invest in IT and equipment to allow for effective remote working Reduce numbers of people onsite at any one time – staggered start times, staggered breaks etc Reconfigure office or classroom spaces to ensure social distancing of 2 metres minimum and ensure staff or students are sitting side to side, or back to back, avoiding face-to-face set ups. Use of screens or dividers to separate areas using a physical barrier. Increase ventilation to ensure airborne particles are dispersed. Consider use of air purifiers and other ventilation systems following expert advice where this is identified as a necessary control. Open windows to increase air flow in shared spaces. Ensure appropriate spaces are used for teaching that are well ventilated, avoiding enclosed spaces and recirculated air. 3 Reduce social mixing – identify safe routes through buildings, corridors and rooms and safe use of any shared facilities or communal areas. Rotas and cohorting of staff and students to reduce risk of virus transmission. Ensure social distancing of 2 metres minimum for all on site work. Change work systems to reduce contact with other people as much as possible Reduce usage of shared equipment – assign own equipment or restrict access Surgical masks – for areas where groups of more than 2 will gather Use of PPE – FFP3 /2 masks, gloves, aprons and coveralls, face masks (safe system of work where required to ensure safe usage and disposal) 1:1 meetings with staff or students Conduct meetings online or via teleconferencing. Consider alternatives and interim arrangements. Reduce number and frequency of 1:1 meetings. Ensure social distancing of 2 metres and avoid use of enclosed spaces with poor ventilation for meetings. On-site meetings Conduct meetings online or via teleconferencing. Review processes to reduce need for on site or face to face meetings. Ensure social distancing in place for any meetings. Reduced numbers attending meetings to low levels and avoid enclosed spaces with poor ventilation for meetings. 4 Communal and shared areas n break rooms n canteens n social spaces n toilets and other welfare facilities Close non-essential communal and shared areas. Reduce numbers of people who need to access communal or shared areas. Physical partitions, screens or dividers in shared areas to reduce social mixing across individuals or groups. Packed lunches provided or brought in to avoid or reduce any social mixing. Minimise social mixing – restrict access to communal areas to specific groups or cohorts of staff and students. Introduce rotas, staggered times for breaks, schedule work activities before or after lunch breaks to allow people to eat lunch from home where possible. One-in-one out system for small, enclosed spaces and spaces with poor ventilation eg toilets and welfare facilities Ensure there are sufficient toilets and welfare facilities for all those on site at any one time, taking into account safe systems of work. Activities and lessons scheduled to avoid crossing over lunch times so staff and students can eat at home before or after classes. Social distancing clearly communicated with appropriate levels of supervision, instruction and signage for all entry and exit points. Associated safe system of work. Ensure emergency arrangements (e.g. Fire and first aid) are in place for those on site and safe systems of work, emergency procedures and procedures for serious and imminent danger. Bottlenecks into buildings, corridors, stairwells, lifts, classrooms and offices Avoid routes that are likely to create bottlenecks or queues into buildings, classrooms. Identify different entry and exit point for different cohorts of staff and students. Identify one-way entry and exit points with staggered start and find times to avoid queuing. 5 Queuing arrangements in place for entry and exit points to buildings and rooms with appropriate supervision, signage, information and instruction to ensure compliance – safe system of work. Restrict numbers entering buildings, classrooms or offices at the same times (e.g. rotas, staggered start and finish times). Restrict access to areas where 2 metres distance will be difficult to implement or maintain. Restrict access to areas where people may gather or congregate. Transmission of Covid-19 via infected surfaces (desks, doors, equipment, fixtures and fittings, perishables) Cleaning regime and personal hygiene Homeworking to avoid contact with infected surfaces or objects. Reduce time spent on site. Reduce contact with infected surfaces. Reduce number of touchpoints by reorganising the workplace to ensure touch free movement or activities e.g. fixed opening of non-fire doors, fire doors held open using mag-locks or equivalent engineering control. Reduce usage of shared equipment. Restrict access to shared equipment e.g. printers. Avoid taking infected equipment or documentation home (e.g. initial studies find Covid-19 can last between 3 hours and 4 days on paper at room temperature). Implement alternative assessment methods e.g. online or telephone assessment, self-assessment documentation. Enhanced cleaning regime (cleaning after every group activity, class, lecture) with associated safe system of work. Implementation of regime closely monitored and documented with associated safe system of work. Deep cleaning before reopening of buildings and after any suspected case of Covid-19 following safe system of work. 6 Enhanced and more frequent cleaning of touchpoints in buildings, classrooms, corridors, stairwells, lifts etc. Clean equipment before and after usage and between users. Restrict access to areas that have not been cleaned or have no infection control measures in place. Follow safe system to decontaminate any items that may contain viable virus e.g. paper based assessments. Wash hands before and after using equipment, before and after entering rooms and before and after each activity. Use hand sanitiser that can kill virus (e.g. minimum 60% alcohol) when handwashing facilities. unavailable. Ensure adequate provision of hand sanitiser, soap, paper towels, and lidded, pedal push bins at key points across the workplace. Use of PPE – gloves, aprons, RPE, face masks. Infected waste Infected waste (tissues, paper towels) to be disposed of in lidded pedal push bins were possible. Hand dryers in bathrooms turned off and provision of lidded pedal operated bins in toilets. Arrangements in place for regular collection and disposal of hazardous waste with safe systems of work. Waste double bagged, labelled and disposed of as clinical waste. Safe procedure for storage, use and disposal of cleaning materials and PPE. Travel to work Homeworking to avoid travel to workplace. Covid-19 travel to work policy. Avoid all non-essential travel – consider remote options first. 7 Avoid use of public transport. Promote and support alternative travel arrangements. Travel to work in cars alone (unless travelling to work with other members of your household). Travel to work on bike. Walk to work. Increase car parking availability and bike storage facilities. Increase access to showers and changing facilities on site. Suggest safe systems for use of car or public transport and provide information on safe systems to decontaminate clothing either at work or at home. Covid-19 travel to work policy. If using public transport, use PPE, face masks, hand-gel, and follow safe systems including changing and cleaning contaminated clothing. On site staffing levels – absences due to COVID related illness, requirement to selfisolate, and caring responsibilities. Reduce social mixing and reduce unnecessary contact by cohorting of staff and students into fixed teams or partnering. This will also reduce impact of any confirmed or suspected cases and reduce number of those required to self-isolate for 14 days. Increase access to testing and encourage use of any track, trace and isolate technology to reduce impact of any outbreaks. Workforce plan to consider safe staffing levels during any phased return. Minimum staffing levels considered for key roles to ensure safe operation of the workplace (e.g. cleaners, fire wardens, security staff, and those implementing control measures. Procedure in place for staff to remove themselves from any serious and imminent danger from Covid-19. 8 Emergency procedures in place for phased return to onsite work with arrangements to mitigate any risks associated with absences of key duty holders or staff e.g. fire wardens and first aiders. Lone person working procedure for phased return and safe systems of work. Roles that may involve less than 2m social distancing e.g. First aider role, personal care duties, working with student with emotional and behavioural difficulties Reduce numbers on site. Reduce time spent on site. Reduce time spent together where social distancing cannot be maintained. Cohort staff and students into smaller groups. Safe systems of work in place for specific roles or activities. Use appropriate PPE – RPE, gloves, aprons or coveralls, face masks. Safety culture and behaviour of staff and students Take actions that will increase motivation to follow safe systems of work such as additional training, inductions, safety checks, supervision. Utilise a range of communication methods to suit different groups. Identify areas where additional training, information and instruction are required and consider use of signage throughout workplace to support implementation of various control measures. Undertake refresher training on work tasks and equipment, particularly where that work is safety critical. Publish risk assessments and safe systems of work and encourage feedback and review to ensure risks continue to be managed to their lowest possible level. Implement H&S training as identified in risk assessments and training for staff in various safe systems of work before any reopening. 9 Consider piloting smaller and lower risk areas first and make improvements to risk assessments and safe systems of work as needed. Failure of control measures Procedure for serious and imminent danger. Promote understanding of health and safety arrangements that are in place and awareness of reporting mechanisms to highlight any new hazards, failed controls or near misses. Increase supervision of areas and activities that are higher risk for Covid-19 transmission and regularly review the effectiveness of control measures. People at greater risk of viral transmission and poorer outcomes n Those in older age groups (60+) n Those with underlying health conditions n Those from BAME background n Men Home working. Encouraging staff to disclose any increased risk factors and reassurance that they will be given additional protections and considerations e.g. homeworking, lower risk groups phased back to the workplace before higher risk groups. Workforce planning to identify those staff and students at greater risk and for this data to inform return to work plans. Alternative duties to allow for home working. Temporary redeployment to allow work from home Lower risk on-site activities with safe systems of work. Increased access to testing. Individual risk assessments where required. Priority access to PPE (FFP3/2 respirators, gloves, aprons. PPE that is fit tested and staff have training in storage, cleaning, use and disposal. Safe system of work for PPE. Staff at greater risk of ill health due to impact of COVID-19 n Disabled staff (impact on reasonable adjustments, safe working Home-working and flexible working arrangements in place. Review of reasonable adjustments and additional support. 10 environments, access to support and conditions that increase ill-health) n Parents and carers – predominantly women (more likely to have additional caring responsibilities) less able to attend the workplace n Those with members of their household who are at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 or suffering poorer outcomes. Encourage staff to disclose any issues and offer reassurance that support can be given to prevent or minimise impact on health and safety. Workforce planning to ensure specific groups and their additional risks inform return to work plans. Induction to workplace and safe systems of work. Alternative roles, duties, tasks considered where necessary. Individual risk assessments where required. Flexible or alternative working arrangements. Access to PPE for on-site work. Health surveillance – workers becoming ill at their place of work Health surveillance arrangements in place to ensure early signs of illness can be detected; e.g. temperature checks before entry to workplace or during the working day. Daily self-reporting or confirmation of health checks completed i.e. temperature, loss of smell/taste, new persistent cough (coughing a lot for more than an hour, three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours). Health surveillance as an early warning system for any outbreaks within the workplace. Health surveillance to ensure suitable control measures are in place to prevent and reduce exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace. Domestic violence – increased isolation at home and increased risk of physical and mental harm Domestic violence policy for the workplace. Employer to increase awareness of domestic violence and sources of advice and support. Welfare facilities/personal hygiene Access to welfare facilities for frequent handwashing. Restricted access to welfare facilities and safe systems of work. Washing stations provided or installed where needed, well stocked with soap and paper towels, lidded pedal bins to 11 eliminate need to use hands and keep hazardous waste well contained. Access to sufficient hand sanitiser that meets standards to eliminate the virus. Access to shower rooms and rooms to change out of travel or work clothes. Safe system of work. Isolation rooms or spaces for those who may become ill with Covid-19 symptoms at place of work with safe system of work. Stress Refer to generic, preventative and organisation level stress risk assessment. Risk assessment should identify potential stressors during Covid-19 and preventative and protective control measures that need to be implemented. Multiple changes to ways of working, new technology and pace of work due to Covid-19 and other impacts on mental health such as bereavement and isolation. Stress risk assessments should consider the HSE Management Standards (demands, control, support, relationships, role, and change) to draw out the potential stressors for workers from various groups undertaking various work activities both on site and at home. Controls can also look at workload agreements, reduced workload demands, alternative duties and activities, increased support and communication from managers, bereavement policy etc. Individual stress risk assessments to be competed as needed. Homeworking Refer to homeworking risk assessment. Homeworking risk assessments can consider home environments, access to suitable equipment, training, advice and support, measures to support physical and mental well-being. 12 Individual DSE risk assessments to be completed where required and/or self-assessment checklists to ensure safe working practices at home. Emergency evacuation procedures (eg Fire) Emergency evacuation systems and procedures should be reviewed and adapted to take into account social distancing requirements and lower staffing levels. Personal protective equipment (PPE) Ensure adequate supply of appropriate PPE as identified in risk assessments. Implement safe systems of work for use and disposal of PPE and ensure fit testing and training is implemented in advance to prevent transmission of Covid-19. Additional considerations Risk assessments should also consider hazards associated with ad hoc and non-routine operations, seasonal tasks, different weather and environmental factors to ensure controls are adequate for all circumstances. For example, in hot weather people will be less likely to wear a face mask and may need increased access to drinking water. In addition, some controls may fail due to human behaviour or practical issues. For instance, PPE may not be available in sufficient type or quantity and some activities may not be able to continue as a result. Reopening buildings and restarting systems safely ensuring all required checks have been done and remedial actions taken. All plant and equipment which have been closed during lock-down must be reviewed for safe operation and to identify new and existing hazards. For instance, hot and cold water systems present a risk of Legionnaires disease. Pest control and other environmental health considerations should also be reviewed and measures implemented before reopening of workplaces. Suggested questions for employers to inform the risk assessment process n What is the local infection rate/R number? n What is the make-up of the workforce and student body by risk factors – women, men, BME, disability, underlying health conditions, young people, new or inexperienced workers, transient workers, women of childbearing age, pregnant (list not exhaustive)? What steps have been taken to capture accurate information from staff and students on this? How has this informed workforce planning and return to work plans? Need to share this information and data with UCU. n How will the above data inform their risk assessments or plans to re-open colleges? n Are people in the organisation competent to undertake risk management and risk assessment in relation to Covid-19 and reopening plans? If not what H&S training will be implemented before reopening and what expertise will they bring in to ensure the 13 organisation has the necessary expertise to inform their decision making before any reopening? n How can they prevent outbreaks in the workplace and local community without effective track, trace and isolate systems operational? n How can they be assured that their risk assessments and reopening plans are implemented at a time when it is safe to do so? n How will they ensure suitable and sufficient risk assessments are in place across the organisation with all control measures implemented before reopening? n Will they confirm that all training, safety checks and safe systems of work have been completed and implemented before reopening? Other resources Hazards Campaign: reviewing Covid-19 risk assessments Government Guidance for FE during COVID 19 5 steps to working safely during COVID 19 British Occupational Hygiene Society Covid-19 Return to Work Guidance Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Covid-19 Hub

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *