Covid risk assessment

SAMPLE COVID-19 RISK ASSESSMENT FOR A TEAM MEETING INDOORS - ENGLAND

In England any venue in which more than 6 non-professionals may meet must be a Covid-secure venue so will have completed a risk assessment. The team must also complete a risk assessment.

Groups of up to 6 may meet anywhere but everyone should socially distance, limit social contact as much as possible and minimise interactions with other households. A risk assessment is advised for these even when not required. 

This sample risk assessment is based on a particular team in England, but most of it will be relevant to other teams and the other countries in Great Britain. Government guidance can change rapidly however, and it should be reviewed, even if only by an informal check, whenever significant changes in government guidance are announced.

There is no “one size fits all” and other teams may wish to present their risk assessment completely differently. Each team’s risk assessment needs to be tailored to its own circumstances including any specific conditions imposed on them by the venue and the allocation of responsibilities between the venue and the team such as putting out and disinfecting furniture, providing cleaning materials etc.

A team’s risk assessment must therefore be considered in conjunction with the venue’s risk assessment as well as any additional instructions or conditions of hire. Building-specific aspects such as routes to maintain social distancing while moving through the building are likely to be in the venue’s risk assessment. These do not need to be repeated in the team’s risk assessment so long as it is clear how these will be communicated to ringers (e.g. signage provided by the venue).

The team in this example are sometimes the only people on the premises and have to lock the hall if they leave before the next hirer arrives. It is the hirer’s responsibility to set out and put away chairs (which belong to the venue) and tables (which belong to the team). There are plastic upright chairs which are easy to clean but also cushioned upright chairs and comfy chairs, which are harder to clean adequately.

Format and Content

It is developed from the HRGB guidance on the website, updated slightly and with more detail added as well as reminders of what to do if a team member develops symptoms. The published HRGB guidance remains a handy checklist.

The performing arts guidance states that: “a risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your environment. If you have fewer than five workers or participants ….., you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment.” 

This example has therefore been kept simple, with a minimum number of columns for the necessary information, but more can be added if desired. Some venues may request a specific format.

Many teams are quite small and it will be clear to their members who is responsible for each action – mostly either all ringers or the leadership. Larger teams with a division of administrative responsibilities may prefer to show these separately to prevent any actions from “falling through the cracks”.

In all situations team members and visitors could be harmed, as well as other people where stated e.g. subsequent hall users and/or staff.

There are no existing controls as infection control during team meetings is a new situation for everyone so we are working from a zero base. Listing all actions required in one column makes it easier to focus on implementing them all at each meeting from when ringing is resumed.

In the past it has been common to include values on 5-point scales for probability and severity of risk. These were multiplied to give a risk score for each item. This is not so helpful in this case. Maximum severity is always high – potentially fatal – while scientists are still learning about the likelihood of any event leading to the severe form of the disease. It is known that this varies greatly between individuals based on age, pre-existing conditions and other factors. In addition it is becoming clearer that the effects are not independent but cumulative, depending on whether the total viral load at any time is enough to overcome the body’s defences.

Performance: At the time of writing performances have recently become possible to limited audiences, but must follow the guidance here, section 3. This guidance, much of which is aimed at professional performers and venues, is extensive and beyond the scope of this example, and would merit a separate risk assessment. Before agreeing to perform, teams would need to satisfy themselves that it is absolutely safe for them as well as following the guidance.  

For Those Wish to Take A More Cautious Approach

This risk assessment conforms to government regulations and guidelines at the time of writing but many teams will wish to take a more cautious approach by taking stricter precautions or delaying resumption of meetings. This is perfectly acceptable as the virus has not gone away and can still be deadly despite the development of new treatments.

Many members are clinically vulnerable or live with someone vulnerable due to age (over 70), pre-existing conditions, pregnancy or other factors. Infection rates have been increasing from mid-July to early autumn and could increase further as winter draws on. Further periods of tightened controls, often at short notice, are likely as a response to local or national increases in infections, and these could temporarily stop meetings.

Each person has their own attitude to risk and degree of vulnerability and ultimately it is for each team to agree on their own decisions. It is important that no-one should be pressurised into attending rehearsals if they do not feel safe.

10th September 2020


COVID19 RISK ASSESSMENT FOR INDOOR HANDBELL MEETING IN A COVID-SECURE VENUE – ENGLAND

TO BE READ IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE VENUE’S RISK ASSESSMENT and any additional conditions for hirers.

TEAM: _____________________________   VENUE: __________________  DATE EFFECTIVE: _______________

All members must adhere to the regulations and guidelines of the Government of their Country including temporary local changes and restrictions. This includes guidelines on the number of people and households that may meet indoors. To be reviewed whenever significant changes in government guidance are announced.

ITEM OR ACTIVITY

HAZARD AND WHO MIGHT BE HARMED (in addition to team members and visitors)

RISK MITIGATION

Someone who is infectious with Covid19 attends the meeting

Airborne and surface virus transmission to other people at the meeting.

Transmission via surfaces to hall staff and subsequent users.

Anyone with symptoms (fever, new persistent cough or loss of sense of smell or taste) or who shares a household or support bubble with someone with symptoms or has been required to isolate because of a positive test or recent travel or because they are a contact of someone who has developed Covid MUST NOT attend.

They should get tested if they have symptoms.

Reminder notices at entrances to be provided by the venue.

This will not stop all asymptomatic transmission, but the measures below are designed to reduce the risk of catching the virus from an infectious asymptomatic person.

Someone becomes unwell with possible Covid19 symptoms during the meeting

Heightened risk of virus transmission to other people at the meeting and of transmission via surfaces to hall staff and subsequent users.

They should go home immediately if possible and the meeting should end. If they need to wait for transport they should be isolated in a designated place and should not sit on a cushioned or upholstered chair. Venue staff should be informed as well as any subsequent venue users (perhaps by leaving a note) who may arrive before staff return.  

The unwell person should get a test and co-operate with the Test and Trace service. Other ringers are not required to self-isolate unless told to by the Test and Trace service but may wish to take extra hygiene and social distancing precautions, including washing their clothes when they get home.

Someone who has attended subsequently develops symptoms, particularly in the next 2 days.

The person may have been infectious without symptoms at the meeting. Heightened risk of virus transmission to other people at the meeting and of transmission to hall staff and subsequent users.

They should self-isolate, get a test and co-operate with the test and trace service. They should inform the team secretary (or other responsible person) who should inform the venue staff and other ringers and co-operate with the Test and Trace service. Other ringers are not required to self-isolate unless told to by the Test and Trace service but may wish to take extra hygiene and social distancing precautions.

The team or venue is contacted by the Test and Trace service

There may not be enough contact details available to ensure that all who should be asked to self-isolate can be contacted.

A register must be taken and retained for 21 days of all people attending. The team leader or secretary (or other responsible person) should have all the contact details for all members and visitors. Members and visitors should have contact details for that person. It may be helpful to keep a seating plan for each meeting.

Temporary local or national restrictions apply to areas where the team meets or where any members live.

These indicate increased virus transmission locally or nationally.

Obey all instructions imposed by local and national authorities or by the venue. Consult team members if meetings are not forbidden as they may prefer not to meet anyway.

Some members do not feel safe returning to meetings.

Some members are more vulnerable to the virus due to age, pre-existing conditions, pregnancy etc.

Also a mental health risk: anxiety

Be respectful of other members’ need to shield or preference to isolate. Be particularly diligent with social distancing if your team includes over 70s or clinically vulnerable people. Make it clear that these people are still part of the team and will be very welcome when conditions have improved enough for them to return.

Transport

Airborne and surface transmission of virus in cars – enclosed spaces & 2m distancing may not be possible

Do not share cars*.

Meeting Indoors

Virus concentration is greater indoors than outdoors. Fans or air conditioning can blow virus to particular parts of a room, depending on settings.

Open windows and non-fire doors for ventilation if possible and close on leaving.  Avoid air conditioning that recirculates air. Agree responsibility with the venue for putting out and putting away chairs, tables etc. and disinfecting surfaces.

Arrival and Departure

Transmission of virus into or out of the building

Wash hands with soap (20 sec) or sanitise (over 60% alcohol). Sanitiser will be provided by the venue but ringers may wish to bring their own.

Social Distancing

Airborne virus transmission in exhaled droplets or aerosol (fine particles) from breathing, speaking, coughing etc.

Ringers should always remain 2m apart,* including while waiting to enter, setting up and clearing away, ringing, chatting during a break, queuing for the toilet etc.

Try not to face each other. Side by side, perhaps in an arc, is safer.

Masks or Face Coverings

Virus transmission in exhaled droplets

Wear these unless exempt. They are now legally required in community centres.

Tables

Transmission of virus on any table surface that a ringer may touch, lean on or put any object on e.g. tabletops, table edges etc.

One ringer per table if possible*. Get out and put away own table. If covering with foam, someone else may do this but wipe any edges that might be touched by the ringer. Or use music stands (one ringer per stand).* Do not share music, risers etc.*

Foams

Transmission of virus on foam. Difficult to clean if likely to be touched by another person within 72 hours.

Each ringer should get out and put away their own foam.* Do not pass foams to others when getting out or putting away. A temporary cover such as plastic or an old bedsheet can give additional protection – each ringer should dispose of or launder it afterwards.

Chairs

Transmission of virus on surfaces.

Upholstered chairs are difficult to clean adequately between users.

If not organised by the venue, each ringer should get out and put away their own chair, wiping it down before putting it away.* Do not sit on upholstered or cushioned chairs unless necessary because of infirmity.

Music

Transmission of virus on surfaces – music.

Each ringer should be responsible for their own music if at all possible. New music can be emailed if copyright allows. Music to be handled by others can be quarantined for 72 hours, or binders and music in plastic sheets can be wiped.

Gloves (clean)

 

Must be worn, then taken home in a plastic bag and washed (60°C or higher).

Bells, Chimes and Mallets – Getting Out and Putting Away

Virus transmission on surfaces – bell handles, mallet handles etc.

Each ringer should get out and put away their own bells, trying not to touch the case. Try not to have any case touched by more than one person - cases can be left open during the meeting if not a trip hazard

Bells, Chimes and Mallets – Ringing

Virus transmission on surfaces – bell handles, mallet handles etc.

Do not share bells or equipment – better to miss out a note than risk your health! Possibilities include careful choice of music, allocate each bell to just one ringer, or use duplicates if available.

Techniques (if bells will be used by others within 72 hours)

Virus transmission on surfaces that are more difficult to clean e.g. clappers, mallet heads etc. Virus transmission on bell castings.

Do not touch yarn mallet heads or clappers as these are difficult to disinfect. Avoid plucking. If you thumb damp wipe the bell afterwards and dry with a soft cloth.

During the Session

Increased airborne virus transmission over greater distances with stronger breathing.

Do not sing, shout or raise your voice. Be attentive so the leader does not have to.

Any Payments Received

Virus transmission on surfaces – cash (coins or notes) or cheques.

Try not to handle cash. Electronic payments (online, PayPal etc.) preferred if possible. If cash or cheques have to be used they could be dropped into an open bag (exact change) and kept in this for 72 hours.

Coffee Break

Virus transmission on surfaces – cups, taps, kettles, biscuit plates etc.

Social distancing is harder to maintain and is more often forgotten while socialising.

Not advised. If there is a break each person should bring their own drink and “cup” (taking their own cups etc. home in a plastic bag to wash). Do not share biscuits etc.

Groups of more than 6 (or as prescribed by government) must not mix socially even in covid-secure venues.

Toilets

Social distancing difficult. Virus transmission on surfaces in frequent use e.g. door handles, light switches, basins, toilet handles, seats etc.

Ensure ringers are aware of the venue guidelines including cleaning of surfaces touched and distancing. Control numbers accessing at once or queuing in confined spaces.

Shorter total meeting time without a break can reduce the need to use toilets.

Afterwards

Virus transmission on any surfaces touched, which may infect subsequent users of the venue or equipment.

Wipe down anything that may be handled by anyone else within 72 hours. This includes bell handles, mallet handles, risers, music binders, plastic sheets etc. and also anything required by the venue, such as but not limited to – chairs, tables, door handles, entry keypads, light switches. If no-one will touch equipment for 72 hours a superficial wipe down is enough. Otherwise it must be thoroughly cleaned with soap or alcohol.

Cleaning and sanitising equipment and materials, wipes etc.

Inadequate cleaning materials available.

Ensure that it is clear which cleaning materials required will be provided by the venue and which need to be provided by the team (and who will bring them). Ensure any cleaning instructions from the hall are clear e.g. no spraying of electrical fittings or light switches. Individual ringers may wish to bring their own hand sanitiser.

Performance

Insufficient social distancing etc.

More people (including audience and any other performers) in the space may lead to greater chance of the virus being present and/or greater concentration of the virus.

Temptation for someone who develops symptoms to take part even though they must not, because they are worried about letting the team down.

Indoor performances to a live audience are discouraged for non-professionals but you can record a performance online and may be able to perform outdoors to a limited audience in England. No audience participation on bells or audience sing-alongs, shouting or chanting.

Consider back-up arrangements in case a team member is unable to ring on the day so no-one need worry about “letting the team down” if they develop symptoms.

As indoor performances to limited audiences are reintroduced, liaise with the venue and event organiser to follow the detailed guidance on performances here (section3). It may need a separate risk assessment. Ensure that all who will take part are comfortable with doing so – there is no shame in taking a more cautious approach.

 

*    People in the same household or support bubble/extended household are counted as one unit.