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Higher Education Institutions - How Do I Conduct a Coronavirus Risk Assessment?

on Friday, 29 May 2020.

Under health and safety law, there is a legal requirement for employers to give effect to appropriate arrangements for the planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of health and safety risks and to update risk assessments...

... 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:

  • identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
  • think about who could be at risk
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
  • act to remove the activity or situation or, if this is not possible, control the risk

Coronavirus HE blogs

Whilst the Government and HSE have produced detailed guidance to assist with working safely during coronavirus, as yet, they have not published a template risk assessment.

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.


For specialist advice on conducting a coronavirus risk assessment, please contact Gareth Edwards in our Employment team on 07899 915692, or complete the form below.

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