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Covid-19 Bolton Office Risk Assessment 12 June 2020
Fieldings Porter Covid-19 Risk Assessment – Bolton Office V2 12.6.20
This Risk Assessment has been prepared following the publication of the government’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy on 11th May 2020 and follows on from the earlier measures that this practice has already put in place prior to the government lockdown on 23rd March 2020.
This document will be reviewed at monthly intervals with the next review due on or before 12th July 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:
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 people. In other words, we have reduced those present in the office by over 80%.
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.
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.
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 will implement the following additional measures:
Interim Office Arrangements
a) There will be no receptionist on duty at Reception as the only outside visitors permitted to enter the office will be admitted by a lawyer 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 save in the circumstances described above.
k) There will be no face-to-face meetings with clients save in the circumstances described above.
l) Automated Hand sanitiser dispensers will be installed shortly at each entrance door to the office and in communal areas for use by staff, clients and visitors. In the interim please use the washing and hand sanitising facilities currently in place.
Reviewed on 12.6.20
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