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“COVID-19, planning for the new normal”; Questions and Answers

May 21, 2020, 09:41 AM

Question 1

Does Ark complete COVID-19 Risk Assessment? 


Yes, Ark complete two types of COVID-19 risk assessments. Ark can complete a risk assessment for employers ( tenants ) and controllers of a premise (landlords), the risk assessments are bespoke to your working environment, documented and should be regularly reviewed by management alongside the support of our Ark team. The risk assessments should co-exist beside your COVID-19 secure safety statement which should be signed and displayed by the employer or landlord. All companies with 50 employees or more are expected to publish the findings of the risk assessment.


Question 2

What type of control measures are required to protect our employees and tenants from COVID-19?


Once your COVID-19 risk assessment has been completed, you can start to implement various types of control measures within the work environment. For example, a COVID-19 risk assessment for an office environment might recommend that you implement the social distancing rules in lifts and communal areas, one way systems, staggered breaks and personal work equipment. However, it is our recommendation that you only implement control measures after the risk assessment has been completed.


Question 3

Do you think these controls will become a permanent measure or a temporary solution until the treat has passed?


As this is a new disease we cannot be sure how long measures will be required in your business or building, but we believe these type of measurements could be in place for at least the next twelve months. You will need to review your control measures on a regular basis as part of your business continuity plan, controls will be determined by the number of cases in your area, further outbreaks or the reduced number of outbreaks .


Question 4

What measures should be in place if we cannot maintain social distancing e.g. fire drills or building maintenance?


Throughout the COVID pandemic, Government have deemed building maintenance and fire management ( fire alarm testing and servicing) essential workers. At Ark, our consultants have been continuing to complete fire risk assessments and general risk assessments to ensure legal compliance for our clients.  As part of your risk assessment, it could be recommended to implement a specific fire evacuation procedure which includes social distancing measures. This can form part of your new fire drill procedure.


Question 5

Are the HSE completing spot checks?


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), have been provided with extra resources to offer support and guidance to companies trying to deal with COVID-19 issues. It has not been confirmed that the HSE will complete spot checks, however, they may complete an investigation in certain industries, in companies that are known to them or from employee raising concerns about their employers control measures. 


Question 6

How is equality important when it comes to my COVID 19 risk assessment?


It is important that you consider the demographic of your workforce or tenants when completing your risk assessment. Appendix B, of the guidance notes ( published 11th May) refers to people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable people. You may be expected to put in further measures to protect these groups of people.


Question 7 

If contractors or visitors are coming to my building, am I required to ask for a COVID-19 assessment before committing to the visit?


Yes, is the short answer to this question. Companies are required to co-operate and communicate health and safety information, this would include your COVID-19 risk assessment. The same would apply if your employees are travelling to a new building or site for a visit. It must be a joint effort.


Question 8

Should we remove a single fire assembly point and use a dispersal technique when the fire alarm sounds?

When the fire alarm is sounded, the immediate danger is fire. In this case, it is the responsibility of tenants and occupiers of the building to follow the emergency evacuation procedure provided by the controller of the premise. As part of your fire drills, you can practice a dispersal method and evacuating the building in stages or by each floor.


Question 9

The new control measures seem expensive, what happens if we do not follow the new guidelines?            

Cost can be a concerning factor to many companies when it comes to implementing risk and compliance measures. But, within the UK there has been a large number of fatalities due to COVID-19. Companies should take this opportunity to review your business continuity plan, working to effectively implement the correct principles of prevention and have the tools in place if a second wave of the virus was to arise in the winter. Companies must remember this is not going away any time soon.


Question 10

Can I use QUOODA (online platform) to document my COVID-19 risk assessment?


Yes, this is exactly what our online platform should be used for, we have developed QUOODA to establish a “digital golden tread” for your fire, safety and governance documentation. QUOODA has the ability to store your completed risk assessment, new fire procedures, complete checklists for continual monitoring and to take control of your workplace risk, compliance and safety. A free demo can be requested from our website, www.arkworkplacerisk.co.uk/quooda