Prior to reopening, employers should be conducting COVID-19 risk assessments in their workplace to determine how safe it is for everyone, including visitors. Workplaces with a high volume of traffic and client-facing staff might be high risk, whereas workplaces with many remote workers may be lower risk. A risk assessment will help business owners identify which category their workplace falls into and make changes based on the results.
Assessing the Level of Risk
To find out the level of risk in your workplace, consider the following three questions:
- How many people are present?
- What is the duration of their contact and the distance between them?
- How much can activities be modified to reduce risk?
Your risk assessment should consider the number of contacts in your workplace, meaning how many people, on average, are present in the workplace at one time. Less than 5 is lower risk, between 5 and 50 people is moderate risk and over 50 people is higher risk.
The same levels of risk can be applied to their contact intensity, based on the duration of their contact and the distance between them. If contact is short in duration and is at a distance, such as two people walking by each other at least 2 metres apart, risk is low. High risk would be attributed to interactions of more than 15 minutes, within 2 metres of each other. Moderate risk would fall in between low and high risk. An example of this would be an interaction of several minutes, several feet apart.
The potential for risk mitigation is the degree to which workplaces can eliminate and reduce exposure by changing their work processes. For example, risk in the workplace can be reduced by having employees use personal protective equipment and installing barriers.
Conducting a COVID-19 Risk Assessment
When conducting a risk assessment for COVID-19 in your workplace, there are several things you need consider. For help with the following steps, ask us about our Back to Work Navigator.
- Identify the hazards.
To identify hazards, review all activities taking place within your workplace to determine which can potentially expose employees, customers or visitors to risk of COVID-19.
- Who might be harmed?
Determine who is most at risk in your workplace. Your assessment should include all workers, customers, contractors and other visitors. Some individuals may have an increased risk due to their age, a disability or health conditions.
- Assess risks and decide on preventative measures.
When evaluating risks, consider the likelihood of harm, whether current precautions are enough and what other measures can be implemented. Risk should either be eliminated altogether or reduced as low as reasonably practicable. Risk controls should meet the requirements of Public Health guidelines and should be communicated to all individuals that will be affected.
- Record your results.
Recording the results of your risk assessment might be a legal requirement based on how many employees you have, but even if it’s not it is still a best practice. Your records should review the three above-mentioned steps and be made available to staff and others affected by the risk assessment.
- Review your risk assessment.
Your risk assessment should be reviewed every time there have been changes in your workplace, to your work processes or if an incident has occurred. If nothing has prompted a review, the risk assessment should be reviewed at least once a year.
Do you need help with conducting a risk assessment in your workplace?
Ask our experts for guidance and about more measures you can implement in your workplace to keep employees safe, secure your premises and prevent the spread of COVID-19: 1 (888) 938-0468.