In response to the challenges that present themselves in dealing with our public-facing encounters, we have prepared the following Risk Assessment utilising the very latest guidelines to ensure the safety of our staff and visitors.
1. Spread of COVID-19 in the firm
2. Spread of COVID-19 to clients or visitors
3. COVID-19 cases (suspected) in our office
4. COVID-19 transmission via communal resources or areas
5. COVID-19 transmission via mail/packages
6. Mental health problems and poor wellbeing
7. Public transport virus transmission
8. Non-compliance with government regulations
9. Impact on protected characteristics
Description and Consequence
This will result in multiple individuals (partners, associates and staff) becoming infected and possibly seriously or fatally ill.
This will result in multiple individuals becoming infected and possibly seriously or fatally ill.
This may result in the individual staff member experiencing medical distress on-site and could increase the risk of onward transmission of the virus among other people with whom the individual has been in proximity
This may result in increased risk of transmission, including to/from clients and visitors.
This may result in increased risk of transmission by handling of objects.
This may result from increased stress caused by home-working and the lockdown, potential bereavements, increased caring responsibilities, elevated incidence of anxiety and depression associated with isolation, concerns about personal and family circumstances and job security.
Crowded and unsanitary conditions on public transport services.
Risk that a member of the firm ignores firm’s guidance.
Awareness of the impact measures taken might have on protected characteristics and take appropriate action to mitigate that impact. E.g. What might the impact be on those who are in high risk category.
Onsite and offsite work arrangements reviewed, following the latest announcement by Prime Minister in respect of lockdown. Staff are set up to work from home. There are only three staff who have access to the office which is to be combined with homeworking. These three members of staff sit at desks separated by at least 8 metres.
When we are permitted to return fully to the office, the desks are nearly 2 metres apart, and once people are sat at their desks they will be 2 metres apart. There are three ‘pods’ of staff with only one member of each ‘pod’ present in the office at any one time, significantly increasing the distance between staff at the office.
Desks are not directly facing each other. There is sufficient room in the office to maintain social distance, which the UK Government has now reduced to 1-metre plus.
Reception area removed. Any clients will go straight into the interview room. Clients will only attend by appointments which have been further restricted to avoid unnecessary contact. Screens have been erected where visitors will enter, and in the interview room. Antibacterial spray and auto-dispensers for sanitiser are situated throughout the premises.
Antibacterial spray, for use on electrical equipment such as copiers, etc., has been made available throughout the office, antibacterial wipes and personal hand sanitiser are in place on each desk.
Staff will work with different start and finish times to each other, splitting working from home with work at the office. At the end of each day at the office, the last 15 minutes of the day is to be spent cleaning and sanitising desks, filing cabinets, photocopiers, door handles, bannister rails, phones, keyboards, and all other surfaces likely to have been touched.
Multiple signs have been installed around the office, reminding staff of obligations in respect of handwashing, distancing, and utilising hand sanitiser.
There should only be a maximum of one person in the kitchen at any time. There will be no cloakroom facilities in order to prevent personal items being in areas where they could contribute to transmission. This means that all staff will need to keep coats and bags with them at their desks. Fresh kitchen towels should be used every day, used towels put aside for daily washing. Used cutlery and crockery will be placed in the dishwasher and this activated daily to be emptied the following day to avoid cross-contamination.
Enhanced cleaning has been introduced for staff toilets. Towels have been removed, and disposable paper handtowels have been provided together with associated waste bins.
Face-to-face meetings will be discouraged with conference calls being utilised instead. This will be at a maximum of 2 visitors (from the same household) at a time. The sneeze-screens are in place and must be utilised during meetings.
As per current Government guidelines any visitors who enter the premises must wear a facemask, unless exempt. They will also be required to leave track-and-trace details. Pre-meeting checks will be carried out prior to all appointments.
Cleansing between meetings will be adhered to, using antibacterial spray. This must be carried out by the member of staff who had the meeting with the visitors. This is to take place at the end of every meeting and is to include but is not limited to, door handles, pens, desks, chairs, and doorbell.
Hand sanitiser is available on entry and should be used by all visitors. There will be no reception facilities. No refreshments will be offered during meetings.
There will need to be a pre-meeting notification sent to all visitors asking them to stay away if they feel unwell.
Visitors will not be permitted to use the toilet facilities under any circumstances.
The single point of contact who will lead the response, including contacting local public health teams will be Angela Bartley, Principal Solicitor and Director. In the event that Angela Bartley is unable to fulfil this responsibility, it will be carried out by Lynne Duboulay, Office Manager.
The response plan will be:
- Contact the staff member to ensure that he/she gets a test as soon as possible and self-isolates for 14 days;
- Contact all staff members who have been in the office with the staff member who is unwell in the previous 7 days. They will be advised to work from home. This will be reassessed once the results of the test are available. If the test is positive, then self- isolation for 14 days will be required;
- The staff member will contact NHS Test and Trace and assist them with the details required;
- Inform management team.
If there are more than two cases of COVID-19 reported in the office at any one time, we will contact the local PHE health protection team to report the suspected outbreak.
If anyone becomes unwell with a new continuous cough, a high temperature or loss of sense of smell in the workplace, they will be sent home and advised to follow the stay at home guidance.
It is essential that no-one feeling ill is allowed to come to the office. Staff are required to be vigilant and not to come into the office even with a cold. They are required to work from home for any period of illness in order to protect other staff.
The information required by the NHS Test and Trace service or the local PHE health protection team will be provided. This will include, but not be limited to, contact phone numbers.
Marketing material and magazines have been removed from the reception area which has been closed. Clients will use a separate pen from staff which will be sanitised after each use.
Cleaning protocol is in place for all incoming mail and courier packages.
Staff advised to utilise hand sanitiser after handling any mail and packages, and clean their desks after any mail or packages have been placed thereon.
Ideally, any mail will be provided directly to the recipient, being Angela Bartley.
Staff will be signposted to the Law Society’s mental health resources. Additional training has been provided in the event that staff request this. This is available for a 12 month period and until 2021.
Policies have been adjusted around home working and leave-taking to support working parents.
All staff are encouraged to have regular internal communications with emphasis on honesty and transparency. Any discussions will remain confidential.
The Company Director has maintained transparency with the preparations for the firm. 828 Law operates an open-door policy for those who need additional support.
Individuals who feel that they cannot travel safely to/from the office will not be required to do so. Staff are required to adhere to the up to date restrictions issued by the UK Government on travel including the manner in which public transport is accessed.
Staff are encouraged to walk or cycle to work rather than utilise public transport where possible.
Staff are discouraged from using public transport and are encouraged to work from home instead.
The importance of adherence to the rules has been emphasised to all staff and will be repeated to any visitors. Appointments have been significantly restricted and visitors will not be permitted to enter the premises if they are unwilling to adhere to the latest government guidance.
In the event that any staff members fall into an “at-risk” category, this must be notified to the Company Director at the earliest opportunity. Assessment will then be made on a case by case basis and further measures considered. Homeworking may be permanent throughout the period of the pandemic for any such member of staff, or until such time as they are no longer “at-risk”.
This assessment is reviewed regularly and will be updated following the latest guidelines.