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Covid-19 Bolton Office Risk Assessment 10 July 2020
Fieldings Porter Covid-19 Risk Assessment – Bolton Office V3 10.07.20
This Risk Assessment has been prepared following the publication of the government’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy published on 11 May 2020 and updated on 12 June 2020 and follows on from the earlier measures that this practice has already put in place prior to the government lockdown on 23 March 2020.
This document will be reviewed at monthly intervals with the next review due on or before 3 August 2020.
A separate document has today been produced for the Manchester Office.
Covid-19 is an infectious virus that can result in a variety of medical conditions ranging from asymptomatic or mild flu like symptoms at one end of the scale to severe respiratory illness resulting in hospitalisation or death at the other extreme.
It is a relatively new virus, of which scientists are gradually learning more each month, but at this stage it is believed that: “When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects, such as desks, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects, and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. If they are standing within 1 metre of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them.” (World Health Organisation: Getting Your Workplace Ready for Covid 19, March 2020).
The current scientific consensus is therefore that Covid-19 may be transmitted through direct personal contact with an infected person, by being in close proximity to an infected person, or through contact with surfaces touched/contaminated by an infected person.
Who is at Risk?
The following groups are at risk from the virus:
a) Partners and staff in the office.
b) Partners and staff working from home.
d) Visitors to the office including, but not limited to, cleaners, maintenance workers, tradespeople, delivery drivers and postal workers.
Eliminating the Risk
Ultimately the risk of transference of the Covid-19 virus can only be eliminated completely by closing the office to staff, clients and visitors, and requiring all contact between these groups, and individuals within these groups, to be remote.
As with most other organisations It is not possible to operate the practice in this manner and it is not therefore possible to completely eliminate all risk.
Reducing the Risk and Preventing Harm
We have identified a number of reasonably practicable control measures that can be put in place to very significantly reduce the risk of transference of the Covid-19 virus. The measures that we have put in place are designed to avoid any physical interaction between partners, staff, clients and visitors, or as a minimum to avoid these people being in close proximity to one another.
These measures will be reviewed at monthly intervals as the presence of the virus in the community changes and as the science around the virus develops, but for the moment the following measures are in place:
We have decided to reduce the number of people present in the office on each working day to the lowest level reasonably practicable for the operation of the business. In order to achieve this, we have mandated that:
The Reception has been closed off to members of the public until 3 August 2020.
It is the default position that any member of the Fieldings Porter team who can work from home will work from home until further notice.
We have set up Microsoft Teams on our computer network and advised all lawyers that where at all possible meetings with clients are to be held remotely.
These measures have been put in place to significantly reduce the numbers of people in the office at any one time and have so far been extremely effective in this regard. This has meant in practice that whereas on a typical day pre-virus 60 or so people would be working in or visiting the office, the average number is now approximately 10 to 15 people. In other words, we have reduced those present in the office by over 75%.
We judge that these measures above are the most effective control measures that we can put in place as, in simple terms, if people are not visiting the office they cannot be exposed to infection from anyone or any surface within the office.
Some people still however have to attend the office if it is to continue to operate as a legal practice and we have therefore identified the following additional measures to reduce risk to those who may be present in the office on any particular day.
For those people who have to work in the office we have implemented strict social distancing rules in accordance with the guidance issued by Public Health England and have re-arranged aspects of the workplace to facilitate the same.
All staff have been given guidance on how to observe social distancing by remaining at least two metres apart at all times in the office. The office is set out over two floors, has numerous cellular offices and has a courtyard type arrangement all of which helps to facilitate this, allowing for significant distances between most of those working in the office.
The lawyer will notify their department head of the need for a client meeting and will book the same into the physical appointments diary on the J drive.
The client will be advised of these on site meeting procedures and directed to call the lawyer hosting the meeting to announce their arrival outside the office.
The lawyer will open the entrance door to the client and invite the client to wash their hands.
The client will then be taken by the lawyer to the designated meeting room again whilst observing social distancing.
During the meeting two metre social distancing must be observed.
After the meeting the client will be given the option of using a hand sanitiser and will be then led to the entrance door.
The lawyer will use the wipes provided to sanitise the office furniture and door handles.
Individual visitors, including but not limited to maintenance workers, tradespeople, delivery drivers and postal workers may be admitted to the office where it is essential for them to make a delivery or provide services. When such a visit is required the following procedure must be followed:
A hand sanitiser dispenser will be located at each external entrance door to the office for use by all visitors.
We have installed additional fixed hand sanitising dispensers at each entrance and exit door, at additional communal areas such as the photocopier rooms and elsewhere throughout the office.
We have extended the provision of sanitising wipes to more areas across the office.
We have issued touch pens for each member of staff for use with the photocopier machines.
We have issued additional portable hand sanitisers for use by staff who may need either to conduct home visits or attend other premises such as Court buildings or police stations.
Following our review of today’s date, we endorse all of the above measures which are to remain in place until further notice and we confirm implementation of the following additional measures:
We have installed Perspex screens on reception and in the Boardroom and interview rooms 2 and 3 and we will install screens in the upstairs meeting room and interview rooms 1 and 4.
We have installed an intercom and remote controlled locking system on the front entrance glass inner door so reception can control who enters the office and can control the number of people in reception.
Interim Office Arrangements
a) There will be no receptionist on duty at Reception until Monday 3 August 2020 as until then the only outside visitors permitted to enter the office will be admitted by a fee earner or a member of the Business Support Team.
b) Telephone reception duty will be performed by members of the Business Support Team and other members of staff located throughout the office.
c) Each room in the office has been designated as suitable for a maximum number of people. The number of people in that room at any one time must not exceed the designated maximum under any circumstances. A list is attached.
d) Where more than one member of staff share a room they shall liaise to ensure that the number using the room at any one time does not under any circumstances exceed the designated maximum.
e) Meetings with clients and colleagues will be held remotely wherever reasonably practicable.
f) Where paperwork or other documents need to be given to a partner or member of staff, for signature or otherwise, they should be emailed or left in a pigeonhole or collection basket where reasonably practicable.
g) Partners and staff meeting clients or other professionals outside the office will observe two metre social distancing at all times before and during the meeting and will wash their hands, using soap and water or hand sanitiser, before and after the meeting.
h) Personal hand sanitiser bottles have been provided to anyone who needs to conduct a home visit or attend on any other professional appointment outside the office.
i) If a member of staff handles packaging or other materials that have arrived from an external source ie from a delivery driver or in the post they should use the hand sanitiser after handling the same.
i) Partners and staff will work from home where reasonably practicable, but no partner or member of staff will work permanently from home.
j) The office will remain closed to outside visitors until 3 August 2020 save in the circumstances described above.
k) There will be no face-to-face meetings with clients until 3 August 2020 save in the circumstances described above.
l) Automated Hand sanitiser dispensers have been installed at each entrance door to the office and in communal areas for use by staff, clients and visitors.
Reviewed on 10.07.2020
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