British Safety Council unveils COVID-19 Assurance Assessment Service

The British Safety Council has launched a COVID-19 Assurance Assessment Service to support organisations returning to work.

A detailed return to work guide can be used across all sectors and will enable organisations to develop robust new processes and protocols to keep employers and their customers safe.

The service is designed to ensure that employers manage the risk of transmission of COVID-19 as far as is possible within their workplace.

During the coronavirus outbreak, the British Safety Council has been working with members across sectors like healthcare, retail, local government and logistics to ensure that workers are protected, and workplaces stay safe.

As the lockdown is relaxed, thousands of organisations will have to adapt to new working practices. However, just as before, every employer has a duty of care to their workforce.

The British Safety Council’s technical experts can provide organisations with independent assurance that a workplace has in place safety, health and environmental standards in accordance with current best practice and government guidelines. The COVID-19 Assurance Assessment Service covers:

1.    Organisational context and stakeholder profile (risk management)
2.    Operational processes (risk assessment, safe operating procedures, etc)
3.    Health and wellbeing
4.    Stakeholder engagement
5.    Facilities and workplace health and safety (workplace adjustments, etc).

Technical support includes:

  • Risk assessment reviews
  • Support for workplace procedure development and reviews (including social distancing, health surveillance, workplace control measures, emergency planning, PPE, etc)
  • Health and wellbeing guidance (including mental health factors)
  • Communication and information
  • Leadership and behavioural factors
  • Assurance auditing.

The British Safety Council is offering workplace assurance audits to organisations that have remained open throughout, those that have put new practices in place and those that are just getting back to work. Once the audit is completed, auditors will provide an Assurance Statement, summary report and recommendations for improved controls. This will provide health and safety managers and business leaders with external verification that they are taking the necessary measures to keep workers safe.

Mike Robinson, chief executive of the British Safety Council, said: “As the lockdown eases and more people start returning to work, it is right that workers and employers want to have confidence that every possible step has been taken to keep workplaces safe. We realise that many organisations are under extreme pressure to return to operational activity and looking for credible and reliable sources of support.

“From the start of this crisis our health and safety experts have been working with members and customers to ensure that they are fulfilling their duty – and their legal obligation – to control health and safety risks. We have brought this work together as one comprehensive service for employers, so that they can assess the new risks posed by COVD-19 and to put into place measures to make workplaces safe.”

Mike continued: “There is no doubt that this pandemic is going to have a profound effect on the way we work. But the principles of health and safety management remain as the same: it is a clear requirement on employers to put in place arrangements that control health and safety risks. And the approach is the same to: plan, do, check, act.”

The British Safety Council guidance for organisations planning the return to work covers risk assessment and new control measures, including social distancing, office cleaning and ventilation. Through sister charity, Mates in Mind, auditors can also advise on the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce.

James Rudoni, managing director of Mates in Mind, added: “It’s quite right that health and safety managers are looking at their physical workplaces and taking steps to make workplaces compatible with social distancing. However, we will also be talking about the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce. The last few months have been a source of stress and anxiety for all of us – it’s not simply a case of turning back the clock to pre-coronavirus days.

“Social distancing measures and challenging social and economic times are most likely here to stay. Every organisation will need their leadership to step up and embrace these new challenges: making workplaces safe and supporting the health and wellbeing of the workforce in these unprecedented times. I am very proud of the way that the British Safety Council and Mates in Mind have moved so fast to support employers of all shapes and size, all over the world do just that.”