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Continuing your business safely

Good risk management practices in protecting your people and your business will continue to be crucial as restrictions, regulations and guidance change, with each phase of the pandemic inevitably creating new and different challenges.

It’s important to recognise that COVID-19 will have an impact on business operations and activities for some time to come, and as a consequence it’s essential to ensure that risk management remains a top priority in decisions made to protect your people, business, customers and other partners.

Risk management priorities will clearly differ by business, by trade sector and area of operation; however, the opportunity is taken to highlight what experience suggests will be some of the key considerations, as the journey through the pandemic progresses.

You’ll appreciate that keeping as up to date as possible during this present time is more important than ever with regard to government guidance / regulation and guidance provided by external bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and relevant trade associations, so we’ll continue to keep you updated on risk management best practice and guidance through our web site.

Your business operations and activities may continue to change; for example, due to supply chain challenges, introducing different processes or procedures, changes in shift patterns, staffing and / or capacity. Where these changes introduce new hazards or exposures, risk management measures should all be reassessed and adapted. 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

Ensure employees, customers and other partners (contractors for example) are kept informed of what’s changed or changing, your key expectations and the measures maintained or being implemented so that they remain safe and protected. Think about:

  • What needs to be communicated and when?
  • Who do you need to communicate with - the audience?
  • What's the most effective method of communication likely to be?
  • How do you confirm and monitor understanding?

Review your risk assessments and actions to ensure these remain relevant to the operation of your business and that you are taking all the appropriate measures to ensure a safe working environment (remember any employees working offsite, at home and at 3rd party premises, including those providing delivery services for example), including safe systems of work / working procedures.

Where your business operations and activities have changed, then new risk assessments should be completed and the results and consequent actions shared with your employees (including any temporary and agency personnel) and any visitors, contractors and other occupants or users where premises are shared.

Particular consideration should be given to:

  • Do you have employees out of the business or the potential for increased absenteeism that could leave you with skills and operational gaps? Do contingency plans address this issue?
  • Is there a need to upskill existing employees? If so, who does it, how do you confirm it's been done and ensure that those upskilled are competent and understand their responsibilities?
  • Are all employees, operatives, and where appropriate, contractors aware of health and safety, fire safety and other relevant plans and procedures, safe systems of work and control measures identified through risk assessments, for the tasks they are being asked to complete / or could be asked to complete?
  • Are arrangements for supervision adequate?
  • Is lone or isolated working accomodated? If it is, has an appropriate policy, risk assessments and safe systems of work been implemented, communicated and tested? Are arrangements in place for regular review? Further support can be found at Lone and mobile workers.
  • Where absenteeism has the potential to increase workloads, has this been considered as part of the risk assessment process, ensuring that tasks can still be completed safely and without additional risks to the health and safety of employees or contractors for example?
  • Do risk assessments and safe systems of work consider maintenance activities in respect of your premises, machinery, plant and equipment and vehicles?
    - Machinery interventions (servicing, maintenance, setting and cleaning for example) present particular challenges, with supervision or arrangements for machinery isolation and lock-off (including guarding) often sighted to play a part in accidents and incidents.
    - Are all relevant employees and / or contractors therefore aware of all the arrangements for machinery isolation and lock-off?
    - Further support can be found on machinery and guarding intervention
  • Have emergency arrangements been considered as part of the review process, including for example first aid and fire warden coverage?
    - Further support can be found on our emergency procedures.

Additional support on this topic can be found:

Risk assessments

Safe systems of work

Continue to ensure employees have the competence and capability for the work activities to be carried out, including for new processes / machinery and plant (and that you have a sufficient number of competent employees for each task), through the necessary skills, training and licensing requirements.

This may involve the need for additional employee training programs and / or certification, instruction, information and supervision.

 Remember that for returning employees and / or those with new or different roles, (re)familiarisation, for site and plant for example, will be a key consideration.

Refer to your “return-to-work-policy” (where in place), as this will provide structure to ensuring your employees are ‘fit for work’, with mental health and well-being considered in addition to physical fitness. Mental health and well-being arising from anxiety about a return to work, or continued isolation due to working from home for example, require careful consideration. Further support can be found on our training page.

Enhanced cleaning regimes introduced as part of the re-starting / re-opening process should be maintained.

Areas for particular focus include high touch points. These will vary according to the nature of your premises and activities, but are likely to include washing facilities, toilet flush and seats, door handles, hand rails, office equipment, food preparation areas etc.

Include company vehicles, forklift trucks, pallet trucks etc. in your cleaning regime, and ensure cleaning is recorded and covers on-going expectations / requirements.

Remember hand sanitisers are flammable. As well as reviewing your fire risk assessments, to keep your premises and people safe, ensure storage and use is clear of ignition sources (for example, electrical equipment, hot surfaces, smoking areas etc.) and ideally store within purpose designed flammable liquid cabinets, otherwise, steel cabinets. Further support can be found on our storage and use of flammable / explosive materials page.

Keep your business continuity plan under review, including supply chain resilience (materials, machinery and equipment parts and components, including software where relevant) and implement mitigation measures as appropriate, to reflect any changes to your business operation and lessons learned during the pandemic. Visit our business continuity page for further support.

Regular inspections and maintenance of your site(s), plant, machinery and equipment remain important. Adequate ventilation, ensuring legionella related risks are managed, providing a clean work environment and access to suitable PPE and face coverings are of specific relevance with regard to both direct and associated COVID-19 related control measures. Our legionella bacteria pages and equipment checklist may assist you.

Allow sufficient time in your planning to recommission and / or service plant that may have been dormant or operating at reduced capacity in line with all standard operating procedures (SOPs), manufacturer’s guidelines and established planned preventative maintenance arrangements.

 

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