What does the removal of some government coronavirus restriction mean for us from 19 July 21?

Doctor with antiseptic. Coronavirus theme.

What does the removal of some government coronavirus restriction mean for us from 19 July 21?

On the 19 July, some of the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions will be removed in England by the UK Government. The other countries in the UK, Scotland, Wales and Norther Ireland have different regulations and guidance and are changing their requirements at different times.

But what does that mean for us, can we stop worrying about Coronavirus and stop taking precautions?

No you can’t simply stop taking all precautions in respect of Coronavirus as it is still an issue and the rate of infection at the time of writing this article is increasing rapidly. It is possible that as we approach the Autumn and Winter that legal restrictions may need to be reintroduced.

So how do we manage COVOD-19 now and what should we do?

Coronavirus should be managed the same as any other workplace hazard, we should consider it in our risk assessment process. As an employer, you have a legal responsibility through health and safety law to undertake risk assessment, to identify the hazards in your workplace, to eliminate them where you can, and where you can not put control measure in place to minimise the risk.

COVID-19 is a workplace hazard and you must do what you can to protect people from harm from COIVID-19. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus. This is called a COVID-19 risk assessment and it'll help you manage risk and protect people.

You must:

  • identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
  • think about who could be at risk
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
  • act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn't possible, control the risk

 

If you have fewer than five employees, you don't have to write anything down, but it might help if you do. If you have five or more employees your risk assessments must be written down,

You should update your COVID risk assessments to reflect any changes in legislation, guidance or the prevailing risk from COVID-19 (eg infection rates and hospitalisation rates in your locality) that may impact how you carry out your work activity, for example if there is a change in local or national restrictions.

The Public Health England report Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19 shows that some groups of people may be at more risk of being infected and/or an adverse outcome if infected. You should also consider this in your risk assessment.

Your risk assessment control measures should consider things you can do to reduce the risks such as:

  • putting in place social distancing measures
  • staggering start and finishing times
  • providing additional handwashing facilities

If you work in healthcare (Primary Care Doctors or Dental Practices, Hospitals or community healthcare) the precautions you take and those you expect your patients to take are not likely to significantly change.

COVID-19 precautions such as patients wearing masks and sanitising hands on arrival and socially distancing in waiting rooms will not change. The wearing of appropriate PPE (ie aprons, masks and gloves) when meeting with patients, use of screens at reception, social distancing within practices and minimising staff gatherings for meetings and training by using other methods such as virtual meetings and training are also likely to feature for the foreseeable future.

 

The Health and Safety Executive have put together a useful document that may help you consider what should be in your risk assessments:

What to include in your COVID-19 risk assessment (PDF) .

If you want advice onCOVID-19 Risk Assessments, precautions and how to undertake training safely please get in touch with us at info@siriusbusinessservices.co.uk or Tel 0800 999 3998

About Gary Hepburn

Gary Hepburn is Managing Director of Sirius Business Services Ltd who are approved suppliers of the Practice Index and offer, Basic Life Support, AED and Anaphylaxis, Fire Safety and Health & Safety consultancy and training to GP Practices, Dental Practices and Private Hospitals. Visit their page on The Practice Index. Gary is happy to discuss any issues, or concerns Practice Managers may have with existing providers, or to give advice on how the standard of training can be checked, email him at gary@SiriusBusinessServices.co.uk or Telephone 01305 769969