Last reviewed 24 August 2020

The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) has reminded employers of the six steps it recommends for a Covid-19 risk assessment.

Like other work-related health risks, the Society notes, reducing the risk from Covid-19 will involve the use of the hierarchy of controls.

While such a hierarchy focuses on the important aspect of elimination first, it is essential that a range of controls are adopted and that these are integrated with each other. The Society’s six key steps are based on the following.

  1. Eliminate the risks where possible, for example by facilitating homeworking wherever possible and when considering returns to work, conducting telephone interviews with staff to identify vulnerable individuals.

  2. Reduce the risks by minimising the time workers are in close proximity to others, including consideration of factors like process line reconfiguration, changes to shift patterns, and one-way systems for pedestrians, as well as screens, cleaning regimes and frequent handwashing.

  3. Isolate workers, for example by keeping the same groups of workers together in shifts, considering changing shift patterns and staggering break times.

  4. Administrative controls: where face-to-face working is essential to carry out a task when working within 2 metres, keep this to 15 minutes or less where possible and consider introducing an enhanced authorisation process. Also, provide additional supervision to monitor and manage compliance and carry out an assessment and review of these activities to identify all repeatable tasks.

  5. Personal protective equipment (PPE): PPE should not be used as an alternative to social distancing, except where there is no other practical solution.

  6. Behaviour: Worker behaviour and co-operation will be the key to implementing all the controls.

BOHS’s guidance on Covid-19 risk assessments can be accessed via its website.