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Continuing your business safely

COVID-19 will impact businesses for some time to come. So it’s essential that risk management remains a top priority to protect your people, customers, partners (contractors for example) and operations.

Priorities can differ depending on your business, but some key issues are common to most businesses.  We can help keep you up-to-date with regulation and best practice guidance through our risk management insight.

Don’t forget, any changes to your business, for example, due to supply chain challenges, introducing different processes or procedures, changes in shift patterns, staffing and / or capacity, can introduce new hazards or exposures. So it’s important to regularly reassess and adapt your risk management measures. This may include:

  • risk assessments and safe systems of work / working procedures
  • training and competency
  • cleaning, disinfection and sanitisation
  • ventilation
  • fire and security protection systems
  • machinery, plant and vehicle inspection, maintenance and servicing arrangements.

Make sure employees, customers and other partners are kept up-to-date with any changes, including your expectations and risk management measures. Think about:

  • What needs to be communicated and when?
  • Who do you need to communicate with?
  • What's the most effective method of communication?
  • How do you make sure they've understood?

You should regularly review risk assessments and safe systems of work to make sure you have a safe working environment and complete new risk assessments when you’ve changed your business operations. You should share the results and actions with your employees, including those working offsite, at home and at 3rd party premises (such as those providing delivery services), as well as any temporary and agency personnel. Don’t forget to include other people using your premises, such as visitors, contractors for example.

To prevent transmission of Covid-19 in the workplace you should look at:

  • ventilation
  • social distancing
  • cleaning, disinfection and sanitisation
  • hand hygeine
  • place of work considerations, such as maintaining separation screens, back to back or side to side working, fixed teams or partnering, use of face coverings
  • testing
  • you have appropriate contingency plans in place to avoid skills and operational gaps if employees are off sick. Absenteeism will increase workloads, so you should consider this part of the risk assessment process so work can be completed safely and without additional risks to health and safety
  • your existing employees have any upskilling requirements to make sure they're competent and understand their responsibilities
  • all employees, operatives, and contractors are aware of health and safety, fire safety and other procedures, safe systems of work and control measures you’ve identified through risk assessments
  • your arrangements for supervision are adequate?
  • whether your lone or isolated working policy, risk assessments and safe systems of work are adequate, regularly reviewed, communicated and tested. We have more information on Lone and mobile workers which might be helpful.
  • maintenance activities for your premises, machinery, plant and equipment and vehicles, as part of your risk assessments and safe systems of work  
  • relevant employees and contractors are aware of the arrangements for machinery isolation and lock-off (including guarding). Machinery interventions, such as servicing, maintenance, setting and cleaning, are often the cause of accidents. Visit machinery guarding and intervention for more information.
  • you've reviewed your emergency arrangements, including first aid and fire warden coverage? Visit emergency procedures for more information. 

Additional support on this topic can be found on:

Risk assessments

Safe systems of work

Regular inspections and maintenance of your site(s), plant, machinery and equipment remain important.
 

  • As part of your direct and associated COVID-19 related control measures, make sure you have adequate ventilation, ensure your legionella related risks are managed, provide a clean work environment and access to suitable PPE and face coverings. Our legionella bacteria pages and equipment checklist may help you.
  • Make sure you allow time to recommission and/or service any plant that has been dormant or operating at reduced capacity in line with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), manufacturers guidelines and any planned preventative maintenance*.
  • Where regular plant servicing, maintenance and cleaning has lapsed, it’s important that this is re-scheduled as soon as possible to ensure a safe working environment. For example cooking extraction systems*
  • Remember to continue to review emergency response procedures to ensure they’re up-to-date and provide adequate coverage on all shifts including maintenance, first aid and security personnel.
  • Keep arrangements for pest control and management under review.

Visit our emergency procedures page for more information.

* your insurance policy may include conditions that require the periodic maintenance, servicing and cleaning of your machinery and plant. If you fail to do this, your insurance cover may be invalidated. It's important that you are familiar with the conditions within your policy -  Your broker should be able to help you if you have any concerns.

 

It’s important to ensure a supply of fresh air, so your risk assessment should identify poorly ventilated areas. You can make improvements to these areas through natural ventilation (doors, windows and vents), mechanical ventilation (such as fans and ducts) or a combination of both.

You can open windows, doors and air vents to improve natural ventilation – but don’t forget other safety factors. For example, you shouldn’t wedge open fire doors or remove restrictors / limiters on windows.

Where mechanical systems are used, it’s important they provide outdoor air, temperature control or both. If the system only recirculates air, and has no outdoor air supply, the area is likely to be poorly ventilated. You should avoid using desk or ceiling fans in poorly ventilated areas.

You can use carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors to help identify poorly ventilated areas. CO2 levels are not a direct measure of COVID-19 exposure, but if there’s a build-up of CO2 in an area it might indicate that you need to improve ventilation.

The most appropriate portable devices are non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) CO2 monitors. More information on ventilation and the use of CO2 monitors can be found on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website. Identifying poorly ventilated areas and using CO2 monitors (hse.gov.uk).

You should maintain any enhanced cleaning regimes you introduced as part of your re-opening process. Focus on high touch points and don’t forget to include company vehicles, mobile plant, and other work equipment. It’s important that the cleaning is recorded too.

Remember hand sanitisers are flammable so you’ll need to review your fire risk assessments and make sure you store them away from ignition sources (for example, electrical equipment, hot surfaces, smoking areas etc.). Ideally they should be stored in purpose designed flammable liquid cabinets. Visit storage and use of flammable / explosive materials for more information.

Continue to make sure all your employees including temporary or agency workers and appointed contractors are up-to-date with training and licensing requirements and that everyone is familiar with site, plant, machinery and equipment, emergency procedures and COVID-19 specific controls.

This is particularly important for new employees, those returning to work after a period of absence and those with new or different roles.

Insufficient training and knowledge / skills gaps are often a contributory factor to workplace accidents.

You should have a return to work policy which will help you make sure your employees are fit for work. This should cover mental health and well-being as well as physical fitness. It’s important to carefully consider mental health and well-being issues which may arise from anxiety about a return to work or continued isolation due to working from home. Visit our training page for more information. 
You should regularly review your business continuity and supply chain resilience plans to reflect any changes to your business operations or lessons learned during the pandemic. Visit our business continuity page for more information.
As restrictions, regulations and guidance change during the pandemic, it’s important to continue with good risk management practices to ensure your people and your business remain protected. A number of our preferred suppliers offer a range of different products and services, at discounted rates to Allianz policyholders, to assist in operating a safe working environment. This includes PPE and face covering equipment, decontamination solutions, social distancing signs and risk assessments.

The risk management information and guidance provided herein is not intended to be advice for any specific requirements.

Readers should seek further advice when dealing with their individual and particular situations. Allianz Insurance plc shall have no liability for any action taken as a result of and in reliance on the information contained in this document. The information contained in this document is correct at date of going to print and may be subject to change at any time.  All rights reserved