Health and Safety Risk Assessment

PICKERINGS SOLICITORS (TAMWORTH) LIMITED

COVID-19 HEALTH AND SAFETY RISK ASSESSMENT

12TH AUGUST 2020

BACKGROUND.

This risk assessment has been conducted to supplement the company’s existing health and safety measures. In response to the COVID -19 pandemic we have augmented our usual procedures to further protect our colleagues, clients, wider circle of contacts and ultimately the general population.

We will do so by following Government advice and adopting sensible policies and procedures which will be strictly adhered to.

From the outset we have taken seriously the risk posed by this pandemic. In early March 2020 we revised our office cleaning protocols, stocked up on hand sanitiser for use at our premises and at external locations and advised our team and clients not to shake hands.

We swiftly implemented a system of home working, which was continued as lockdown was implemented.

As key workers, we maintained a skeleton staff in our office to provide support to home-workers and perform the work which could not be carried out from home.

CURRENT SITUATION

Pickerings Solicitors continues to provide legal advice and representation. Some of our team are home based and some are in the office. 

Our investment in IT and remote working technology has enabled us to continue to provide a full range of services.

Our office is large, modern and open plan, with enough space to allow us to safely practise social distancing. We are sole occupants of our building, which gives us full control of risk management processes and procedures.

Advice is mainly given by telephone or video link rather than at a face to face meeting. When a face to face/in person meeting is required, strict social distancing measures are taken.

We accept post and deliveries in accordance with strict safety measures.

We have carried out regular risk assessments as the situation has progressed and amended our procedures accordingly. At our most recent management meeting on 11th August 2020, we agreed amendments to this risk assessment.

The risk assessment and procedures will be subject to continual review to take into account updated Government rules and advice.

If at any time you have concerns about health and safety processes at Pickerings, please contact Vanessa Green, Health and Safety Officer on 01827 317051 or vgreen@pickerings-solicitors.com 

RISKS IDENTIFIED AND ACTION TAKEN

1. General - we expect our team to abide by current government guidance.

2. Visitors to our office

From 8th August 2020 Government rules in England, state that you must wear a face covering indoors when visiting a solicitor’s office.

Visitors to our premises (clients, contractors etc) will be notified in advance of the need to wear a face covering indoors. Masks will be available for those who may have forgotten to bring a face covering. When a visitor is unable to wear a face covering for health reasons, they should make us aware of this and the member of staff attending to them will wear a mask.

3. Personal Protective Equipment We maintain a supply of non-surgical gloves, masks, hand sanitiser and cleaning equipment for use by our team.

4. Travel to work Staff should avoiding public transport where possible. Where they are forced to use public transport in a confined space with others, masks and gloves should be used. Social distancing to be maintained wherever possible on the journey.

5. Office numbers We will limit the numbers working in office at any one time to ensure that safe social distancing is observed. If a member of the current home-working team needs to visit the office i.e. to collect files, they should advise the Health and Safety Officer in advance to ensure that they can do so safely.

6. Exit and entry - Hand sanitiser is available for use at the entrances. At the Staff entrance, avoid touching key code pad with fingers. Use knuckles in preference or a pen. Sanitise or wash hands immediately afterwards.

7. Office configuration We will attempt to reduce the risk of viral transfer by reducing the numbers of times that shared surfaces are touched. Certain doors will be propped open during office hours.

8. Seating of staff within the office. 2m distance to be maintained at all times. Seating plan incorporates corridors for movement within the office., hence the need to notify if you will be visiting the office to avoid blocking corridors of safe movement.

9. Desk hygiene to be respected. Staff should not ‘hot -desk.’ If you need to work at another desk for social distancing purposes, ensure that the desktop, keyboard, mouse, telephone and other equipment in use have been sanitised.

10. Printers and photocopiers Sanitise hands before and after use and if possible, use knuckles or soft touch pen in preference to fingertips.

11. Pens – these are never to be shared to avoid cross contamination. If you are witnessing a document at a safe distance for a client, do not share pens. Ample supplies of spare pens are available at the office.

12. Toilets one person in room at any one time. Gents to use upstairs toilets rather than downstairs disabled toilet to free this one up for female use. Leave the lights on during the day to reduce viral transfer on switches.

13. Hand washing and sanitising to be encouraged. Signs will be on display to reinforce this message.

14. Kitchen – Paper towels used only. Tea towels are not in use. Use paper towel to operate lever on hot water heater and sanitise before and afterwards. No drinks rounds are to be made. Do not make or serve food or drink to colleagues.

15. Breakout Room Please wash hands/sanitise before touching microwave, refrigerator or other surfaces. If you choose to eat lunch in the breakout room or garden area a 2m distance should be maintained from others. We have temporarily relaxed the restrictions on eating at your desk.

16. Waste bins – Those with touch opening are left open during the day to minimise contact.

17. Reception is open. Deliveries can be made to the secured mailbox on the gate or by ringing the doorbell to alert a member of staff. Protocol for taking delivery involves 2 m distancing. There is to be no handing of deliveries from one person to another. Items are to be placed at safe distance and retrieved using gloves provided.

18. Payments. Our preferred method of payment is direct transfer to our bank account. Cheques may be received by post. Card payments can be taken by telephone or in exceptional circumstances by prior arrangement in person. The card payment machine is to be sanitised after each use. If a card payment is taken in person, gloves and mask must be used by the staff member.Cash payments in respect of costs are by prior arrangement only, when client has been informed of procedure to be followed. Cash to be placed in envelope or plastic bag and deposited outside building or on table inside reception. Client moves away. Member of staff takes delivery using gloves and mask. Receipt issued immediately at social distance or posted out to client.

19. Attending client meetings offsite. You may be requested to attend a meeting offsite in order to witness documents. In this instance before agreeing to a client visit you should carry out a detailed risk assessment and seek approval from a Director.

20. Garden benches – may be used to facilitate signing and witnessing of documents for clients at a safe social distance.

21. Communication & Training We will communicate regularly and ensure all staff are aware of rules and procedures to be followed.

22. Commitment It is important for the health and safety of all that these procedures are followed. A failure to do so will be dealt with under our disciplinary procedure.

23. Review These policies will be reviewed and revised as appropriate as  the situation changes.     

Sue Hatton 

12/08/20