The main principal relating to risk assessments, is that they at least prove that an employer has attempted to protect all individuals within the workplace. Undoubtedly, not all incidents can be prevented, but a risk assessment is the appropriate documented proof that an employer has actively assessed the workplace to reduce risks to the lowest possible levels. Although producing risk assessments can seem like a paperwork nightmare, they are essential to protecting the health and safety of all employees and anyone who comes into contact with the organisation. They need to be written down, kept up to date and communicated to all members of staff – they also need to be signed off by the relevant individuals (usually senior members of staff).
All business have had the responsibility of producing COVID-19 risk assessments that adhere to government advice. Of course, this advice has changed numerous times due to the nature of the pandemic and the introduction and easing of various restrictions. From 19th July matters will be left to employers’ discretion, however there are pre-existing laws and duties which require employers to protect the health and safety of their employees. Under the Employment Rights Act, employees are further protected if they refuse to return to work because they reasonably believed there was a serious and imminent danger to themselves or others. Coronavirus counts as a danger and employers will need to keep evidence of the measures taken to provide a safe working environment. This includes conducting thorough risk assessments.