... especially where there have been significant changes, such as the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Government has required all employers to conduct a coronavirus assessment and to make a 'five steps to safer working' declaration. This includes a declaration that HEIs have carried out a coronavirus risk assessment and shared the results with staff.
You must ensure that additional risks associated with coronavirus are assessed before allowing staff, or more staff, to return to their workplace and you should ensure that significant findings/controls are recorded.
As part of your risk assessment you must:
However, other organisations such as the HSE NI and CIPD have prepared templates which could be a useful starting point for HEIs. Areas you may need to cover include issues relating to your premises and workplace, your work processes or practices, personal protective equipment, as well as generic risks that may affect your staff, students or others. You will also need to consider risk assessments for certain individual workers, particularly if they are vulnerable.
HEIs also have a have a duty to consult their staff on health and safety matters. You can do this by talking to them about the work and how you will manage risks from coronavirus, as they are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace and will have a view on how to work safely. You will also need to consult recognised trade unions. Involving them in making decisions shows that you take health and safety seriously.
Finally, the Government also expects HEIs to publish their risk assessments and to display a poster confirming compliance with the five steps to safer working.