COVID-19 Risk Assessments – Developing Effective Controls

The creation of Risk Assessments and control monitoring regimes can seem daunting for many small businesses.

In the UK we are fortunate that governments and bodies such as the HSE have produced large quantities of guidance and templates specifically for COVID-19.

The concept behind risk assessments is very simple – HSE use this definition of the process –  “think about what might cause harm to people and decide whether you are taking reasonable steps to prevent that harm.”  So essentially, we are looking at our business and thinking about the hazards that may harm employees, contractors and visitors and how.   We are then going to evaluate those risks and look to define a set of controls that reduce them.  All of this is recorded in the risk assessment.  We then implement those controls and regularly review the assessment, taking into account any events that have taken place since the last review.    

In the context of COVID-19 – the aim of the assessment is to reduce the chances of people bringing the virus into a business and spreading it and there are many controls that can be implemented to help achieve this.  Below I look at how the U-Visit Contactless Visitor and Contractor registration system can be used by your organisation to deliver some effective controls within a holistic approach to COVID-19.

  • This first risk to consider is that the use of shared equipment and shared surfaces can help to spread the virus.  The implementation of U-Visit removes the need to have a Visitors Book with shared pens or a shared tablet for people to record their visits on.  All you need is space to display a QR code or to place a contactless sticker for someone entering your site to tap their device against.  The sign-in process is then completed on the user’s own phone.  In this case, the need for shared equipment or a shared surface has been removed from this process. 
  • Secondly – to identify people who may be at risk if Covid-19 does enter your site you should consider maintaining a record of all staff, contractors and visitors to enter the premises.  This allows for contact tracing in that unfortunate event.  The minimum recommended retention time is 10 days – however, your organisation may have other drivers that require this information to be kept for longer.  With U-Visit, we are able to define the fields that you require to capture and the length of time that you want to hold the details for.  You are able to use the U-Visit portal to search for all recorded visits on a particular date and export this information to Excel if required.  The information can then be given to relevant people within the organisation and Test and Trace services as required.  Importantly, by using U-Visit you have access to the data and aren’t reliant on the colleague, visitor or contractor having installed the relevant NHS app on their phone.  On realise, this app did not work on 40% of devices and its uptake has been challenging. 
  • Thirdly, to aid social distancing and reduce the ability of the virus to spread – the number of people that can be within different rooms and spaces within your site should be restricted where possible.  The most obvious places this impacts are meeting rooms and offices.  Once you have identified the maximum occupants for a room, U-Visit can be used to record how many people actually enter and leave that room.  This then gives you the evidence to see if the control is understood and adhered to and allows you to identify if it is effective.  The U-Visit portal allows you to have a graphical hourly view of sign ins over a day so can not only identify if limits are being exceeded but can also identify busy times giving you further scope to develop additional controls for problematic areas. 
  • Finally, for the front desk, social distancing is an important control for the staff representing your organisation’s welcome.  The U-Visit sign in process does not require visitors to get close to front desk staff as QR code sign-ins or contactless sign-in stickers can be placed away from the front desk so reducing the risk of spread.

Remember that once this pandemic is over risks of virus spread still remain – Coronavirus will remain with us for years to come and, where in 2020 we escaped with a very small Flu season as the result of Social Distancing measures, this will not be the case when society opens up again.  So as well as providing a seamless sign in experience, U-Visit can continue to be part of an effective risk framework to reduce the spread of disease going forwards.

If you would like to learn more about how U-Visit can help your organisation please get in touch with us here and one of our friendly team will be in contact.

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