COVID-19 Risk Assessment
Last updated: 6 January 2021
PensionBee, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety. With this COVID-19 risk assessment we thought about the risks our employees might face and what measures we can reasonably take to minimise them, while recognising we cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.
Our expectation is that the majority of the PensionBee team will continue to work remotely most of the time. At the current time, none of our employees are required by the company to come into the office. When working from home is not possible, we will follow applicable and appropriate government guidelines for making the workplace COVID-secure.
This risk assessment identifies sensible measures to control the risk in our workplace. PensionBee has a duty to consult our employees on health and safety. The company has voted for a member of the Critical Task Unit, a small team performing daily work in the office that can’t be done remotely, to be their representative. The selected representative will be the voice of the team and will share feedback about workplace risks and any return to work plans.
The health and safety representative is: Rosalinda Buttice
Employee health and safety representative: Lakeyba Joseph
Employers and employees should always come together to resolve issues, and we’re always open to suggestions from the whole PensionBee team.
Managing the risk
Objective: To reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures, in order of priority.
We will work with the team and the contractors (cleaners) so that health and safety is protected. The steps we will take are:
- Increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning, with additional hand sanitisers and soap provided
- Facilitating compliance with social distancing guidelines set out by the government (keep 2m apart wherever possible)
- Rearranging the office layout to maintain a clear 2m distance between staff. We have closed shared breakout spaces
- When social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in relation to a particular activity, we will consider whether that activity needs to continue. If so, we will take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission
Further mitigating actions could be:
- Providing supplies for the cleaning of any equipment before and after use
- Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
- Working back-to-back or side-to-side
Identify people at risk
- The CTU team: the Critical Task Unit is in the office on a daily basis to perform tasks which cannot be done remotely.
- Non-CTU team: non-CTU team members can use the office space if there is a genuine need to do so. This might be because of low productivity at home due to issues with setup that cannot be easily resolved, or a need for team contact to preserve good mental health.
- Cleaners: the cleaners come to the office once a day in the morning to clean the kitchen, deep clean the desks and all the touching points such as light switches and door handles.
- Anyone else who physically comes into the office: courier deliveries and ad-hoc maintenance staff.
Non-CTU team members will initially be invited to the office on Mondays and Thursdays if they cannot work from home. The CTU team will still be in the office 5 days a week or as otherwise agreed. Each person who has let us know they plan to come into the office will have a dedicated desk that will respect the government guidance of 2m social distancing. The assigned desk will not be shared. Every employee must bring their own dongle, charger, laptop, keyboard, and mouse into the office each day. This is to facilitate clear desks for cleaning.
Cases of possible infection on-site
If someone becomes unwell while on-site with coronavirus symptoms (a new, continuous cough, high temperature and loss of smell or taste) they will be sent home and advised to follow government advice to self-isolate until either 7 days have passed or they have taken a coronavirus test that has shown negative results.
The following actions will be taken within the workplace:
- Our cleaning company will be called, and they will deep clean and disinfect the office
- Public areas where the symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time, such as corridors, will be cleaned as normal
- The office will re-open after the deep cleaning occurs
To protect people who are at higher risk, clinically extremely vulnerable groups are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact; this is called ‘shielding’. The Government should have sent out letters to everyone this applies to. It’s expected that those shielding will need to continue to do so until at least the end of June and quite likely beyond. Some people are more clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. These include those aged over 70, those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women. These clinically vulnerable people should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their households.
Equality in the workplace
In applying this guidance, we are mindful that different groups of workers or individuals have their own particular needs. As always, our main objective is to treat everyone fairly.
Where informed, we will consider the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics. We are mindful that the steps we’re taking do not have a negative impact on some groups compared to others, for example, those with caring responsibility or with religious commitments.
- Hand washing facilities in the office with soap and water in place
- Drying of hands with paper towels
- Gel sanitisers in office areas where washing facilities aren’t readily available
- Posters of hand washing guidance will be displayed in the office
Frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly particularly in areas of high use such as door handles, light switches, fridge handles and kitchen equipment. The cleaners will clean the desks on a daily basis and the kitchen twice daily. Please let Rosa know if something does not look right or clean in the morning. The team will be required to clean any shared equipment before and after using it.
Staff will be reminded to catch coughs and sneezes in tissues - Follow: Catch it, Bin it, Kill it. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth with unclean hands.
We have reduced the number of persons in any work area to comply with the 2 metre gap recommended by the Public Health Agency.
We have re-designed the office layout to ensure social distancing and taped 2 metre sections on the floor in the shared section like the corridor.
The team should bear in mind the importance of social distancing wherever possible, including while arriving at and departing from work, while at work and when travelling.
Social distancing applies to all parts of the business, not just the place where people spend most time, but also entrances and exits and break areas. This last area will be the most challenging area to maintain social distancing. Only 1 person is allowed to use the kitchen at a time, and nobody is allowed to use the breakout space or kitchen tables. Staff must eat at their desk or outside.
Symptoms of COVID-19
If a member of staff or anyone in their household develops symptoms, they will be advised to follow the stay at home guidance and to get tested as soon as possible. Testing is now available for everyone over the age of 5.
If anyone becomes unwell with a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of smell or taste in the workplace they will be sent home immediately. Line managers will maintain regular contact with staff members during this time and will also offer support to anyone with a family member or friend experiencing symptoms.
If advised that a member of staff has developed COVID-19 and was recently on our premises the management team will contact the Public Health Authority to discuss the case and will take advice on any actions or precautions we should take.
Management will promote mental health & wellbeing awareness to staff during the Coronavirus outbreak and will offer whatever support they can to help. Our Mental Health First Aiders are also available to support staff. Our mental health first aiders are: Tess Nicholson, Ashil Patel and Rachel Ige.
We’ve put together productivity and wellbeing guidance which we share on a regular basis, and we have a range of virtual social activities to stay connected. The latest guidance is available in CharlieHR, our employee talent management portal.
Safety in the building
City Place House, managed by Great Portland Estates, is also taking the necessary actions to minimise the spread of the infection. The new measures are:
- Foot operated bins for disposal of single-use PPE and hand sanitizer are available in reception, parking, and bike storage areas
- Screens/barriers to protect reception employees and employees receiving deliveries
- Clear instructions for visitors on arrival
- Elevators should only be used for upwards travel. Anyone leaving the office should use the fire exit and stairs from the kitchen area. Those with mobility issues can continue to use the lift in both directions
- Shared waiting areas have been rearranged to maintain social distancing rules and promote single direction flows
- Hand sanitizer points at the entrance to each floor
- The use of bathroom facilities has been reconsidered based on social distancing rules e.g. introducing queuing systems, signage to cover “one in/one out” rules
- Bathrooms are cleaned more frequently during busy times and paper towels are provided where possible as an alternative to hand dryers
- Air conditioning systems have been recommissioned including filter changes within prescribed frequencies
- Deliveries can only be collected between 10AM – 12PM and 2PM – 4PM
Working hours and public transport
It is recommended that you avoid public transport, but if you must use it, you are advised to wear a face covering. You can alter your working hours (e.g. 8AM - 5PM) to avoid the peak commute. Please discuss alterations with your manager.
If you’d like to cycle to work and don’t have access to the bike store in the building, please let Rosa know. If you’d like to drive to work, we may be able to provide you with a regular parking space in the building. Alternatively, there is a City of London car park very close to our office building. Please let our office manager, Rosa, know if you need more info about driving to work.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and face covering
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is protection that workers wear to protect themselves against health and safety risks at work, such as helmets, gloves, eye protection or face masks. We shouldn’t rely on PPE to keep each other safe – the best thing we can do is to stay 2m away from each other.
Face covering could be beneficial as a precautionary measure. The current publicly cited evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but haven’t developed symptoms. A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible, such as during a commute. It needs to cover your mouth and nose. Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by law, including in the workplace.
We are supporting people that would like to wear a face covering safely. This means:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting the face covering on, and after removing it
- When wearing a face covering avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
- Change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
- Continue washing your face regularly
- Change and wash your face covering daily
- If the material is washable, wash in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable dispose of it in your usual waste or in the foot-operated bins provided in reception
- Practice social distancing wherever possible
Safety in the office
The office has been re-configured to enable compliance with the Government Working Safely during COVID-19 in office and contact centres guidelines. We have removed all the extra chairs and each row of desks has a reduced number of workstations. You will find the seating plan on your first day back in the office. All the desks have been set up to maintain 2m social distancing between each workstation. Yellow and black tape has been put in place in the corridor to show you how far you need to stay from other people. In the corridor it is not possible to follow the one way rule, so we ask you to be aware of the distance and if someone is coming in front of you, you should stop and wait aside to let that person pass before that you can finish your journey.
On the kitchen floor there are arrows that will show you the one-way system. Only 1 person is allowed in the kitchen at a time. If you enter the kitchen you must follow the arrow to leave. The other kitchen areas are not able to be used, including the bar and stools also. You can eat your lunch at your own desk space or outside. Employees are also not allowed to use the breakout area.
The kitchen will be cleaned twice a day by the cleaners. We require cooperation from all employees in keeping the kitchen clean. Everyone who is using any kitchen equipment (e.g. fridges, coffee pot, kettle, microwave) must clean the handles or the touching point before using it. Rosa will make sure we will have enough antibacterial spray and blue paper available all the time.
The printers are touch screens. For the same reason we ask everyone to clean the screen before using it.
Other shared equipment
If you share any other equipment, please make sure you clean it using antibacterial spray and blue paper before and after using it.
The stationary cupboard will be stocked up with everything you need. Please take only the items you require and do not share them e.g. pens, post it note, highlighters. Please consider cleaning these items before using them.
As the cleaners are coming in on a daily basis early in the morning. Your cooperation on keeping your desk and any other area you use clean and disinfected will be much appreciated for the wellbeing of everyone. Make sure your desk is clear in the evenings before you leave so that the cleaners can thoroughly clean it.
We are avoiding face-to-face meetings and we will still use Highfive for all our meetings. If absolutely necessary participants should attend meetings and should maintain 2m separation throughout. Show ‘n’ Tell will continue in a meeting room with chairs kept 2m apart from each other.
We should avoid external visitors wherever possible and meet remotely using Highfive instead. Where this is not possible, essential visits must be booked with our office manager at least 48 hours in advance.
Communication & information
Communication is vital in the re-establishment of business activities and procedures after lockdown.
Lack of information can cause hazardous or inaccurate information to be circulated. The pandemic has been accompanied by a large amount of official guidance, some of which needs interpretation, and also by misinformation rumours and “fake news” or “myths”. Official communication will always come from the management team or from the Talent team.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns please speakk with our employee health & safety representative Lakeyba, or the health & safety officer Rosalinda.