Completing a Covid-19 Risk Assessment
As an employer, you’re required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum you must do is:
identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk
Assessing risk is just one part of the overall process used to control risks in your workplace.
For most small, low-risk businesses the steps you need to take are straightforward and are explained in these pages.
If your business is larger or higher-risk, you can find detailed guidance here.
If you’re self-employed, check if health and safety law applies to you.
2. Steps needed to manage risk
Risk management is a step-by-step process for controlling health and safety risks caused by hazards in the workplace.
You can do it yourself or appoint a competent person to help you.
Look around your workplace and think about what may cause harm (these are called hazards). Think about:
how people work and how plant and equipment are used
what chemicals and substances are used
what safe or unsafe work practices exist
the general state of your premises
Look back at your accident and ill health records as these can help you identify less obvious hazards. Take account of non-routine operations, such as maintenance, cleaning or changes in production cycles.
Think about hazards to health, such as manual handling, use of chemicals and causes of work-related stress.
For each hazard, think about how employees, contractors, visitors or members of the public might be harmed.
Talk to workers
Involve your employees as they will usually have good ideas.
Assess the risks
Once you have identified the hazards, decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how serious it could be. This is assessing the level of risk.
Who might be harmed and how
What you’re already doing to control the risks
What further action you need to take to control the risks
Who needs to carry out the action
When the action is needed by
Control the risks
Look at what you’re already doing, and the controls you already have in place. Ask yourself:
Can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
If not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?
If you need further controls, consider:
redesigning the job
replacing the materials, machinery or process
organising your work to reduce exposure to the materials, machinery or process
identifying and implementing practical measures needed to work safely
providing personal protective equipment and making sure workers wear it
Put the controls you have identified in place. You’re not expected to eliminate all risks but you need to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble.
You can find more detailed guidance on controls relevant to your business.
Record your findings
If you employ 5 or more people, you must record your significant findings, including.
the hazards (things that may cause harm)
who might be harmed and how
what you are doing to control the risks
To help you, we have a risk assessment template and examples. Do not rely purely on paperwork as your main priority should be to control the risks in practice.
Review the controls
You must review the controls you have put in place to make sure they are working. You should also review them if:
they may no longer be effective
there are changes in the workplace that could lead to new risks such as changes to:
the substances or equipment used
Also consider a review if your workers have spotted any problems or there have been any accidents or near misses.
Update your risk assessment record with any changes you make.
3. Risk assessment template and examples
You can use a risk assessment template (.docx)- Microsoft Word document to help you keep a simple record of:
who might be harmed and how
what you’re already doing to control the risks
what further action you need to take to control the risks
who needs to carry out the action
when the action is needed by
Example risk assessments
These typical examples show how other businesses have managed risks. You can use them as a guide to think about:
some of the hazards in your business
the steps you need to take to manage the risks
Do not just copy an example and put your company name to it as that would not satisfy the law and would not protect your employees. You must think about the specific hazards and controls your business needs.
4. More detail on managing risk
More detailed guidance for businesses on controlling the risks of a wide range of specific hazards can be found in The health and safety toolbox: How to control risks at work.
Advice for employers in larger and higher-risk businesses and organisations can be found in Managing for health and safety (HSG65).
Employers in major hazard industries require more detailed arrangements for managing risks.
You can read the full text of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 on the legislation.gov.uk website.