Covid-19 - Staff Risk Assessments
Risk Assessment Frameworks for
Staff in General Practice during Covid-19
Covid-19 has presented a significant challenge in assessing and mitigating risks to all staff in healthcare settings. The early data from Italy indicated a high rate of infection and death amongst healthcare workers and sadly this has been replicated in the UK.
Despite the pandemic crisis employers remain bound by their duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Management regulations to manage the hazard of Covid-19 infection and reduce risk to all staff.
As Covid-19 is a novel virus infection our understanding of it and the control measures that should be put in place have been evolving rapidly. This has led to some frustration about the lack of definitive guidance, however, there are now several sources for this topic.
NHS Employers have published updated guidance on risk assessment, particularly for at risk and vulnerable groups within the workforce. This includes staff returning to work for the NHS, and existing team members who are potentially more at risk due to their race and ethnicity, age, weight, underlying health conditions, disability, or pregnancy. NHS Employers have taken an inclusive approach and have described that the guidance is applicable, with appropriate local adaptations, in all healthcare settings.
The SOM - Supporting occupational health and wellbeing professionals
March 2022 - The SOM have published FAQs for workplace health post end of Government restrictions.
2021 The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) published a COVID-19 return to work in the roadmap out of lockdown: guidelines for workers, employers and health practitioners. They have also produced a return to work guide for managers.
The Society of Occupational Medicine is the UK organisation for all healthcare professionals working in or with an interest in occupational health.
In early 2021 the SOM worked with Public Health England on a series of COVID-19 Work, worklessness and wellbeing webinars (recordings and presentation slides are here). The fact sheets have been developed to support employers, local authorities and regional governments, and health and social care workers to maintain and improve good health and work outcomes in their communities during the pandemic and its aftermath. Download the fact sheets below:
- Supporting businesses to build back better: The benefits of age diversity
- Supporting your approach to workplace diversity and inclusion
- Creating better quality work and workplaces
- Managing stress, burnout and fatigue in health and social care
- Supporting workplace mental health and wellbeing in COVID-19 and beyond
- Developing a COVID-19 secure mental health and wellbeing strategy
- Managing change – restructuring, redundancy, and homeworking
Covid-19 has affected different populations in different ways and as well as considering the risks for the whole team then each member of staff requires an individual risk assessment. Those at highest risk should be removed from the possibility of contracting infection at work as the first control measure. Employers and employees need an evidence based, fair and non-discriminatory tool to do this that would provide the appropriate protection for staff and mitigate the risk of any action against employers failing in their duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The BMA have a webpage with a number of resources and information for practice risk assessments. This includes a Covid-19 risk assessment tool and other resources. They have produced separate guidance about what the risk assessment process for doctors involves.
This BMA’s abbreviated guidance for practices on COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control was published in January 2022, which includes a template letter to CCGs requesting support with getting RPE supply.
Pregnancy irrespective of score:
See - Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology - RCOG
If you have any staff that you are unsure about their individual risk or if you feel are at very high risk of the consequences of Covid-19 infection then the LMC suggest that you seek Occupational Health advice.
The LMC cannot offer any specific Occupational Health advice to practices.