COVID-19 Risk Assessment for Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP

COVID-19 Risk Assessment for Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP

Introduction

  • This Risk Assessment (RA) is based on the Health and Safety Executive’s generic risk assessment and input from the Law Society’s return to the office Core Working Group. It is designed to help law firms deal with the current COVID-19 situation in the workplace.
  • This RA has been carried out to satisfy the requirements set out in the government’s guidance “for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments” and the Law Society’s practical framework for return to the office.
  • The RA has been carried out taking into account the risks we consider relate to our Company and the various offices we operate from and should be read in conjunction with the Covid-19 Secure Internal Guidance Document (IG) which we have shared with all personnel (all Partners and staff of Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP) This has been amended following the lifting of legal restrictions on 19 July 2021 and regularly reviewed . We have invited and welcome the views of all personnel as to the contents of this document and the IG now and at any time in the future and will consider all suggestions for additions or amendments.
  • We will continue to monitor changes to the working environment and such changes will be considered as part of the review of this RA and be communicated via the intranet.
  • References to Social distancing are the Company’s (Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP) requirements as to the distance which will be no less than the distance recommended by the Government at any given time.
  • The recommended actions have been implemented by members of the Company’s Support Department and show dates when the action has been completed.

ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT’S COVID-19 SECURE GUIDANCE

Mitigation, action taken and when

Regularly checking Gov.uk for any relevant Updates

1. Considering all relevant updates and implementing and advising personnel as appropriate. The HR Manager is alerted to any Government updates on a daily basis.

SPREAD OF COVID-19 IN THE FIRM

Description & consequence – cleaning the workplace

Mitigation, action taken and when

Assessment of office cleanliness.
1. Regular cleaning is maintained at all offices at all times. Cleaning requirements are monitored and increased as required. Further information in IG. All contracted cleaning companies used by the firm have been advised that they must adhere to the Firm focus of Respect, Hygiene and Ventilation.

Communicating via signage and the Intranet the importance of taking self responsibility in respect of hygiene both personal and in the workplace

2. Hand washing facilities, hand sanitiser and cleaning products made available and regularly replenished

Clean air ventilation. Our Air conditioning maintenance company have confirmed that the risk of our systems increasing the spread of viruses is extremely low.

3. The ventilation systems at Marina Court and Foss Islands House are not shared with other tenants. Government guidelines suggest that ventilation into the offices should be optimised to ensure a fresh air supply. Our systems use recirculated air but we have been advised that these are very low risk. Where the temperature in offices permits the systems should not be used and instead windows should be opened wherever possible to increase circulation of fresh air. With cooler weather the system will need to be used at Foss Islands House as it is used to heat the office and at Marina Court in meeting rooms and common areas when required to maintain appropriate temperature to enable adequate working conditions. Wherever possible to improve the fresh air circulation a window should be opened away from where people are sitting and as far away from the units being used to avoid combating air flows. The importance of clean air ventilation communicated via the Intranet and revised signage displayed in both staff and client areas (w/c 25/10/21). Any areas identified as poorly ventilated will be limited for use

Water systems (kitchens and bathrooms)

4. Although attendance has increased, the usage of the water systems is monitored. Low usage (such as showers) are regularly turned on to flush through systems.

Description & consequence – Attendance at our offices – Vulnerable workers could be worst affected

Mitigation, action taken and when

From 19 July 2021 following the lifting of legal restrictions, increased attendance is permitted and continues to be carefully monitored. Our priority is to continue to protect our team, our clients and our business by taking sensible precautions and safety measures. All employees are regularly updated with information via the firm’s intranet.

1. Government guidelines continue to be monitored and enforced. We are now permitting greater use of our offices whilst still monitoring the number of personnel who are attending each office on a daily basis.. We continue to have a discussion with those attending to ensure that they feel safe returning to work taking into account their journey to work, caring responsibilities, protected characteristics and other individual circumstances with extra consideration given to those people at higher risk.

From 16 August there is no legal requirement for people who have been double vaccinated against Covid-19 to self-isolate if they come into close contact with someone who has tested positive. Instead they are advised to take a PCR test and can stop self-isolating if the result is negative. If the result is positive, they need to self-isolate.

2. As our priority is to continue to protect our team, our clients and our business by sustaining a safe working environment for everyone attending our offices.

3. All personnel should continue to contact HR if they or a member of their household tests positive for Covid-19, or if they have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace. In those circumstances, even if they receive a negative PCR test result, if they are double vaccinated, they will be asked to work remotely for the same period that they would have needed to self-isolate. If they have not been double vaccinated they will have to continue to self-isolate in accordance with Government guidelines

4. On-site Support remains in place to assist those who are working remotely – Effective since 24.03.20.

NHS COVID-19 app and QR code poster

5. Although not a legal requirement, the QR Code remains in place in both offices for the use of visitors and staff It is not mandatory for anyone to download the app and use the QR although signing in and out to assist with the firm’s contact, test and trace is necessary. See further details in the IG.

Turning away people with Covid-19 symptoms

6. Anyone feeling ill with Covid-19 symptoms will not be allowed to come to work.

7. All personnel are required to contact the firm’s Management Assistant to advise before attendance

Description & consequence – Social Distancing in the workplace

Mitigation, action taken and when

The decision was made to remove firm guidance on maintaining social distancing within the offices, and move toward guidance on respecting others, hygiene and ventilation (25/10/21)

1. Regular reminders communicated via the intranet. All new personnel advised before commencement

2. The importance of respecting others in the workplace, and making appropriate allowances with regard to distancing has been communicated via the intranet and also by signage in the offices.

3. Measures have been put in place to accommodate anyone who wishes to maintain an increased distance whilst attending the office

Description & consequence – Workplace and workstations

Mitigation, action taken and when

Provide guidance on sanitisation on arrival and departure to the offices

1. Information is included in the IG of the procedure to follow when arriving and leaving the offices. Hand sanitiser is available at all entry and exit points

Communicating with all personnel the importance of respecting others preferences with regard to social distancing

2. Desks for use are clearly marked and a plan of available desks

3. HR Manager monitoring attendance at all offices daily. Heads of Department are also liaising with their team members to find the right balance of office attendance for individuals and the team.

Desks marked with notice to encourage physical distancing by showing which desks must not be occupied.

4. Details of the maximum occupancy of each of our offices was increased (25/10/21) and has been detailed on the intranet. The updated plans of the designated desks which can be used is also available on the intranet and copies are displayed in each department. Employees have to book a desk prior to attending at the office to be reviewed to meet demand and take into account availability of ICT equipment to maintain ability to also work remotely.

5. Each designated desk or Quiet room has been allotted a number. Those designated desks which can be utilised are shown highlighted on the plan and a notice displayed on each desk confirming it can be used. Each working area can facilitate anyone who wishes to work at an increased distance from others. Due to the limited number of people (2) working at Northgate Point a plan is not considered necessary. There are currently 3 workstations each located in a different room/area within the office space.

Description & consequence – Cleaning

Mitigation, action taken and when

Enhanced cleaning regime, including for toilets and frequent touchpoints such as door handles, light switches, reception area using appropriate cleaning products and methods

1. Contract Cleaners provided with guidance on necessary cleaning procedure and instructed to pay particular attention to thoroughly clean all designated desks each night with effect from 29.06.20.

2. All personnel reminded to clean down workstations before and after use, and any shared equipment. Communicated via Intranet and revised signage 25/10/21

Hand washing awareness

3. Displayed in relevant areas throughout offices, completed 10.06.20.

4. Since early March 2020 regular communication by email and intranet to all personnel. Further notification in IG issued to all personnel to continue to regularly wash hands. Posters displayed in offices since 10.06.20

Regular use of hand sanitiser, disinfectant spray and kitchen roll to wipe surfaces

5. Provided throughout offices since mid -March 2020. Stocks checked and re-ordered on a regular basis. Additional areas in each department set up with supplies to reduce movement of personnel to access the same 13.07.20.

Reminding everyone of the public health advice through posters and intranet articles

6. Since early March 2020 regular communication by email and intranet to all personnel. Posters displayed since 10.06.20.

SPREAD OF COVID-19 TO CLIENTS OR VISITORS

Description & consequence – This will result in multiple individuals (partners, staff, visitors/clients and contractors) becoming infected and possibly seriously or fatally ill.

Mitigation, action taken and when

Manage face to face events

1. Face to events are permitted providing all attendees are comfortable to do so. From 25.10.21 if any attendees wish for screens to be in place for the duration of the meeting, they should liaise with Reception beforehand

2. We have available the facility to conduct meetings remotely should this be required

Appropriate meeting room allocated to accommodate meeting attendees

3. Guidance in IG as to capacity of meeting rooms, screen available and ability to provide natural ventilation by open windows Details available to personnel on the intranet.

4. Meetings must be booked in advance via Reception to enable us to monitor the number of visitors and timings of meetings and ensure cleaning is carried out before, between and after each meeting.

Enhanced cleaning regime, including before/between/after each individual meeting. Hand sanitiser, disinfectant spray and kitchen roll to wipe surfaces available inside each meeting room

5. Guidance in IG in addition to specific guidance for General Office Assistants and Receptionist at York. Work completed 10.06.20.

Provision of catering and refreshments offered inside meeting rooms

6. The General Office Assistants at the Hull office and the Receptionist at York office must follow the specific procedures set out in guidance issued to them regarding preparation

Pre-meeting notification (if possible) sent to all attendees asking them to stay away if feeling unwell with any of the symptoms of Covid-19

7. All Personnel who are expecting an external attendee must communicate with them prior to attendance at the office not attend the office if they, or anyone in their household, has any Covid-19 symptoms, or are awaiting results from a Covid test

Physical distancing in place in reception/waiting area for those who require

8. Seating spaced out to accommodate any attendees at the office using the waiting area, who may wish to maintain increased distance, Screens are available for those working on Reception should they wish to do provided to protect those working behind the reception desk and also those . Further information in the IG. Work completed 10.06.20.

Requirement of visitors to wear face masks

9. Having considered the current Government guidance alongside our Covid-19 Secure provisions we do not consider it a requirement for visitors to wear face masks

Visitors moving around the office

10. To be limited as much as possible. At Marina Court visitors to be encouraged to use the lift (1 person at a time unless from the same household). Fee Earners to meet them at the lift area. At Foss Islands House meetings should be conducted on the Ground Floor wherever possible. Further information in the IG.

COVID-19 CASE (SUSPECTED) IN OUR OFFICES

Description & consequence – This may result in the individual staff member experiencing medical distress on-site and could increase the risk of onward transmission of the virus among other people with whom the individual has been in proximity.

Mitigation, action taken and when

If anyone becomes unwell with any symptoms of Covid19 whilst in the workplace, they will be immediately sent home and advised to follow the government guidance. If they become unwell with any of the above whilst working remotely they will be advised to immediately contact the HR Manager or Practice Director, self- isolate and follow government guidance.

1. The individual should immediately telephone the HR Manager or Practice Director if they become unwell. They will be advised to follow government and public health guidance, obtain a Covid-19 test and then inform us of the results

If advised that a member of staff or visitor has developed COVID-19 and was recently on the premises the HR Manager or Practice Director will identify people who have been in contact with them and take on any actions or precautions to comply with up to date Government and Public Health advice.

2. Should a positive result be confirmed, personal contact to be made with all personnel who were in contact with the individual 48 hours prior to the start of symptoms or results of PCR test if asymptomatic as per government guidance

Maintaining up-to-date contact information (including emergency contacts) for all partners and staff.

3. All personnel were requested to update this information 16.03.20. Reminder issued to do so by 27.07.20. Another reminder to do so issued on the intranet w/c 18/1/21

Record keeping of who is in and where they are seated in the office on a given day to aid potential contact-tracing efforts and processes.

4. A record of those attending each office has been maintained via the signing in and out procedure in place since 23 March 2020.

5. A system to record which numbered desk was occupied on any given date was put into effect from 29.06.20

COVID-19 TRANSMISSION VIA COMMUNAL RESOURCES OR AREAS

Description & consequence – This may result in increased risk of transmission, including to/from clients and visitors

Mitigation, action taken and when

Marketing material (brochures and literature), newspapers and magazines removed from client reception areas.

1. All such materials removed 10.06.20.

To develop a special protocol for cleaning all books, journals and other publications in the Library area at Marina Court.

2. Notice of cleaning protocol to be displayed in library area, disinfectant spray and kitchen roll provided in the area on a table. Completed 19.06.20

Personnel to use their own desk equipment including their chair, office stationery including stapler, pens etc and speech mike, keyboard, mouse, desk phone (if do not have work mobile) wherever possible. Cleaning products provided to be used for all shared equipment

3. Further guidance in IG. This is in place for all designated desks at Marina Court and Foss Islands House. When personnel attend at the office they are requested to obtain a storage box and put their items in to it themselves if this has not yet been done for them.

COVID-19 TRANSMISSION VIA MAIL/ PACKAGES

Description & consequence – This may result in increased risk of transmission by handling of objects

Mitigation, action taken and when

Staff advised to wash their hands thoroughly after touching any mail/post items (disinfectant spray and kitchen roll to be provided)

1. Spray and kitchen roll available in all work areas 30.03.20. A designated area for post distribution and collection has been set out in each work area at Marina Court from 29.06.20. and at Foss Islands House from 06.07.20. These areas are shown on the plans which are available on the intranet and also in each work area. Further guidance is included in the IG.

Deliveries of post and other supplies are contactless upon arrival at the offices wherever possible..

2. Guidance has been provided to all General office Assistants and Receptionists since 24.03.20

Packaging of any deliveries is discarded immediately and anyone handling deliveries must wash their hands immediately after handling.

3. Pick-up and collection of goods will only be from the reception area. The Receptionist should be advised of any pre-booked deliveries or collections. Where possible stationery and other supplies ordered will be less frequent to limit deliveries.

MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS AND POOR WELLBEING

Description & consequence – This may result from increased stress caused by home-working and the lockdown, potential bereavements, increased caring responsibilities, elevated incidence of anxiety and depression associated with isolation, concerns about personal and family circumstances and job security

Mitigation, action taken and when

Increase volume of guidance materials and resources available and open-door policy for those who need additional support.

1. Since March 2020 information included on intranet together with email and verbal communication to contact HR Manager, Practice Director or Head of Department if further assistance or support is required.

Regular internal communications from senior leadership emphasising self-care and regular and inclusive communication. The emphasis should also be on honesty and transparency about the difficulties the firm is facing and how to best manage these together

2. Regular email or intranet communications to all personnel directly from the Managing Partner supported by all Partners. Additional information on intranet.

Provide assurance over measures taken to protect employees’ health and safety

3. Communications from the Managing Partner supported by Partners and Senior Management, this RA and the IG to provide assurance that the Company seriously understands the need to protect the health and safety of all personnel. The Company welcomes suggestions at any time as to what other actions could be taken to further protect personnel when working. Message was communicated to all personnel by email dated 01.07.20. from the Practice Director.

4. HR Manager has completed Mental Health First Aider Training. Mental Health Awareness training to be offered to all Personnel

ERGONOMIC INJURIES

Description & consequence – Insufficient chairs, screens, footstools, desks etc. may be available in the office as a proportion of these could have been taken home by staff.

Mitigation, action taken and when

All personnel to bring their more portable ergonomic equipment (such as keyboards, wrist supports or mice) with them when working in the office.

1. Guidance in the IG. ICT taking this into account when advising which desks can be utilised.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT VIRUS TRANSMISSION

Description & consequence – Crowded and unsanitary conditions on public transport services

Mitigation, action taken and when

Individuals who feel that they cannot travel safely to/from the office on public transport.

1. Temporary access available to all to use the office car park spaces (except the visitor spaces) or bicycle storage. If personnel are unable to take advantage of those and still have concerns they should speak to the HR Manager or Practice Director. Further information in the IG.

2. Discuss avoiding rush hour for those using public transport and agreed on flexible start and finish time

SAFETY AND SECURITY AT BUILDING ENTRANCE

Description & consequence – There is a risk that several individuals may wish to enter the building at the same time

Mitigation, action taken and when

Communicate the importance of space when arriving and leaving the buildings

1. Monitoring of those attending the office by the HR Manager. Sufficient space outside entrances to enable personnel to socially distance whilst queuing and personnel able to see in to the Reception areas to ensure there is room inside to keep safe distances when they are inside the Reception areas. Further guidance in the IG.

NON-COMPLIANCE WITH GOVERNEMENT REGULATIONS

Description & consequence – Risk that a member of the firm ignores the Government’s regulations or the Company’s rules and guidance put in place to limit the risks.

Mitigation, action taken and when

Communicate the importance respecting social distancing and the preferences of others. All personnel made aware of changes to RA and IG via the intranet

1. All personnel have been consulted on RA and IG and encouraged to make additional suggestions or amendments. Written confirmation was obtained from all personnel that they understand the guidance contained and acknowledgement that they will adhere to the rules. Clear communication that breaches of the firm’s rules and procedures could result in disciplinary action. Additional explanation or training to be provided where personnel request. RA and IG on intranet from 22.06.20. All personnel were invited to provide their comments and suggestions on the documents. All feedback received has been considered and implemented where appropriate and communicated to the individual. A list of those issues raised has been collated.

2. RA and IG reviewed and updated regularly and made available on the Company’s intranet and website since July 2020.

3. All personnel received an email or letter referring to the up to date RA and IG and plans of designated desks etc on 01.07.20. The email explained the Company’s view on adherence with these and requested confirmation that these had been read, understood and would be complied with.

4. Constant monitoring of adherence. Personnel encouraged to advise in confidence their Head of Department, HR Manager or Practice Director if they consider there is any non-compliance and this will be acted on by the Head of Department or a member of the Senior Management Team. Email of 01.07.20. encouraged personnel to advise, in confidence of any non-compliance.

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