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Covid-19 Bolton Office Risk Assessment 13 May 2020
Fieldings Porter Covid-19 Risk Assessment – Bolton Office 13.5.20
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 13th June 2020.
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:
Reception has been closed off to members of the public until 1st July at the earliest.
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 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.
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.
We have mandated that all those present in the office follow good hygiene practices and wash their hands using soap and water and hand sanitiser on entering the office and before and after meetings in the office.
We have reduced the potential communal touch point areas by ensuring that where possible all communal doors remain open during the working day, avoiding the need for people to touch the same whilst in the office.
We have asked our contract cleaners to ensure that particular attention is given to communal touching areas when undertaking a daily clean of the premises.We have provided free parking facilities for staff to minimise their need to use public car parks or public transport and to make their journeys as short as possible.
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:
Where it is absolutely essential for clients to physically attend the office we have identified that the following rooms may be used for client meetings: interview room 3 (maximum of one person only plus lawyer); the Boardroom; the upstairs meeting room
When meetings are to be held the following procedure must be followed:
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:
The visitor will call the Business Support Team to announce their arrival outside the office;
A member of the Business Support Team will open the entrance door to the visitor and, while observing two metre social distancing, allow them to make their delivery or lead the them to the location in the office where they will perform their work;
After the visitor has concluded their work a member of the Business Support Team will lead the visitor, while observing two metre social distancing, to the entrance door;
A hand sanitiser dispenser will be located at each external entrance door to the office for use by all visitors.
We have decided to install additional fixed hand sanitising dispensers at each entrance and exit door and at additional communal areas such as the photocopier rooms.
We have extended the provision of sanitising wipes to more areas across the office.
We have ordered touch pens for each member of staff for use with the photocopier machines.
We have ordered 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.
Interim Office Arrangements
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.
Telephone reception duty will be performed by members of the Business Support Team and other members of staff located throughout the office.
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.
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.
Meetings with clients and colleagues will be held remotely wherever reasonably practicable.
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.
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.
Personal hand sanitiser bottles will be provided to anyone who needs to conduct a home visit or attend on any other professional appointment outside the office.
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.
Partners and staff will work from home where reasonably practicable, but no partner or member of staff will work permanently from home.
The office will remain closed to outside visitors save in the circumstances described above.
There will be no face-to-face meetings with clients save in the circumstances described above.
Automated Hand sanitiser dispensers have been ordered and will be located 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 13.5.20
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