Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Op-Ed: How to make work safe? Developing a COVID-19 risk assessment

The COVID 19 pandemic continues throughout the world and it is important that employers undertake risk assessments and issue briefings to remind all staff of how to identify a suspected COVID-19 case and the actions to take.

When approaching a workplace risk assessment, the following questions should be kept in mind:

Is the risk above an acceptable level? What can be done to reduce or eliminate risks?
What is the appropriate balance among benefits, risks, and resources?
Are new risks introduced as a result of the identified risks being controlled?

Looking across different countries and different sectors, some or all of the following measures are recommended for helping to keep workplaces COVID-19 secure and in terms of the necessary risk mitigation actions to be implemented:

Advising the public to use proper etiquette when sneezing and coughing.
Advising the public to not touch their mouths/nose/eyes.
Advising the public to wash their hands regularly.
Advising or mandating the wearing of face masks when outside the home.
Mandating various measures that lead to isolation – closing schools, closing certain types of workplaces, working from home, cancelling public events, curfews, general stay-at-home policies, staying off public transportation.
Screening arriving passengers at airports and other entry ports for signs of infection.
Requiring individuals to self-quarantine for 14 days after traveling from high-risk areas.
Testing individuals for the virus after developing symptoms.
Performing contact tracing activities.
Proactively testing certain groups of people in society with no symptoms (e.g. doctors, nurses, and other health care workers).
Wearing of personal protective equipment by healthcare workers in healthcare settings.
Medicating patients who develop symptoms of COVID-19 infection with antiviral medicines.

In terms of specific advice to employees, it is important to advise that all personnel that they need to confirm before coming to work that they are not suffering from any of the recognised COVID-19 symptoms. The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

Regina Evaristo never got a last hug  last goodbye or even a last look of her son Alan who died of C...

Regina Evaristo never got a last hug, last goodbye or even a last look of her son Alan who died of COVID-19 in Brazil in April
Mauro Pimentel, AFP

A high temperature (plus fever or chills).
A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual), plus difficulty breathing.
A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell .or taste different to normal.
Muscle ache.

Most people with COVID-19 have at least one of these symptoms, but you won’t necessarily have them all. If symptoms are apparent, the infected individual must not go to work. General advice for employees includes:

Call your manager and inform them of your symptoms, when the symptoms started and if you came in to contact with any employees and not practiced social distancing.
You must self isolate with those you live with (household).
You should book a COVID-19 test.
If you are well enough to work, there may be an option to work from home.
Contact your local medical service for advice.

Man wearing a face mask when outside  in the time of coronavirus.

Man wearing a face mask when outside, in the time of coronavirus.

In terms of protecting staff on site, the following general advice will help to provide a safe working environment:

On arrival to site personnel should have their temperature taken. If the thermometer reads 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher, isolate yourself.
Wash your hands as soon as you enter the building before starting work (remember to use hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds)
Wash your hands and use hand sanitiser frequently throughout the day
Keep a clear workspace. Clean desks before starting working with an alcohol based disinfectant and a wipe.
Practise social distancing (2 metres of greater is recommended).
If you are unable to practise social distancing then wear a surgical grade f
ace mask.

Once appropriate measures have been established, risk review is important. This not only lets the firm review the effectiveness of selected risk controls, but it also provides an opportunity to identify new hazards, and risks that may have arisen as a result of risk control strategies.

Avatar photo
Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

You may also like:


In March, prices rocketed to more than $10,000 a tonne in New York after a poor harvest in West Africa.


Medical team members evacuate a Muslim pilgrim, affected by the soarching heat, at the base of Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or...

Tech & Science

It was also found that the relationship between genotype and phenotype is more different than the relationship between coffee and tea.


Asian markets extended last week’s poor run with more losses Monday, following on from another tepid lead from Wall Street.