Some of our services have changed. Please see our services update page for more details

COVID-19 workplace risk assessments

Information on carrying out workplace risk assessments during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

A risk assessment is a systematic method of looking at how work activities could increase the risk of your employees being exposed to or spreading COVID-19 while at work and deciding on suitable control measures.

These control measures should seek to eliminate, reduce or control the risks of transmission to employees and others.

You should involve employees in the risk assessment process and consult them to reach joint solutions for managing COVID-19 risks in the workplace.

To assess these risks you need to follow the same steps on the links below.

  1. Identifying hazards and evaluating risks
  2. Deciding on precautions
  3. Recording findings and implementing them
  4. Reviewing assessments and updating if necessary

2. Deciding on precautions

To help you decide between precautions you should use this hierarchy of controls and Scottish Government guidance.

  • eliminate transmission
  • reduce transmission
  • control transmission
  • safe systems of work
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment should be your last choice for managing the risk of transmission.  Priority should be given to measures that will protect more than just one person.

Eliminate

Eliminating the risk altogether should be your first option. These are some measures that you can take

  • removing people from any workplace risk for example by working at home
  • workers who are unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 should not travel to or attend the workplace. Make sure that you regularly remind employees about symptoms and further actions
  • rearrange tasks to enable them to be done by one person, or by maintaining a safe distance
  • eliminate skin to skin and face to face contact 
  • stairs should be used in preference to lifts or hoists and consider one way systems
  • consider alternative or additional mechanical aids to reduce worker interface.

Reduce

When elimination of the risk is not possible then you should reduce the risk of transmission in the workplace. Here are some measures that you can take

  • minimise the frequency and time workers are in close contact of each other
  • minimise the number of workers involved in these tasks
  • lower the capacity of lifts to reduce congestion and contact
  • regularly clean common touchpoints, doors, buttons, handles, vehicle cabs, tools, equipment and so on 
  • reduce access to enclosed spaces and increase ventilation
  • remind employees to wash hands before and after using any equipment
  • arrange the tasks so workers should work side by side, or facing away from each other, rather than face to face.
  • Where face to face working is essential to carry out a task in close contact with other staff:
    • minimise the time spent on the activity
    • keep them together in teams and do not change workers within teams
    • keep groups as small as possible
    • keep away from other workers
    • consider introducing an authorisation process for these activities (such as a permit to work)
    • provide additional supervision to monitor and manage compliance
    • follow the Scottish Government advice and regulations on the use of face coverings

Control transmission

Once you have considered whether it was possible to eliminate or reduce the risk you might need to implement strict measures to manage any remaining risk.

We have developed a number of examples covering key areas to help you complete your assessment. These are some examples of control measures that you might want to consider in your workplace. You should consult with your employees while deciding the implementation of control measures.

Click on the links to see these examples risk assessments

Safe Systems of Work

The implementation of safe systems of work will be very important to manage the risk of transmission and you need staff to follow a strict process, with additional supervision (for example the creation of work groups or cohorts to carry out tasks).

You should clearly explain rules and processes that employees need to follow to reduce the risk of transmission. This might be done by safety rules, processes and procedures, method statements, permits to work and so on.

Find out more about method statements or permits to work on our main risk assessment section.

Face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The legal requirements to wear a face mask have been removed from legislation, however we recommend that you encourage staff and others (unless exempt or under 12) to continue to wear a face coverings in indoor public places and on public transport. This is particularly important  where your risk assessment identifies  crowded, poorly ventilated spaces and where it is not possible to maintain a safe distance. You might come across other organisations or venues that may require the use of face coverings; you should follow their guidance.

Face coverings do not mean surgical or other medical grade mask, but a facial covering of the mouth and nose, made of cloth or other textiles, for example a scarf.  For more about information about face covering go to the Scottish Government website.

PPE should be your last resort for managing the risk of transmission and you shouldn’t use PPE as a substitute for social distancing, hand, cough and sneeze hygiene, environmental cleaning or ventilation, in the workplace.

The type of PPE that you or your employees need will depend on the type of work that you do, the people you are working with and the work environment where the task takes place.

You can also find more information on the use of PPE in our PPE and COVID-19 page.