COVID-19 risk assessment

To support phased re-opening of USS offices from 20 July 2020

As an employer, USS has a common law duty of care towards its employees and to take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable harm occurring to them. It also has a statutory duty to put in place systems which ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that employees may work without risk.

A risk assessment was undertaken in accordance with UK government guidance to help direct USS’ approach to managing the risks to staff members arising from COVID-19. This coincided with the partial re-opening of USS’ premises on 20 July 2020.

The risk assessment will be updated as and when these arrangements change. A summary of the outcome of the risk assessment is outlined below.

Background

USS established a small project group to identify risks to staff arising from COVID-19. Since March 2020 almost all USS staff have been working from home (“WFH”) with a small minority of staff members designated as ‘key workers’ in attendance at USS’ offices.

From 20 July USS’ offices were re-opened to allow a minority of staff members to work from the office if they needed to. However, the strong expectation was that most staff members would continue to WFH in the short to medium term.

USS recognises there are risks to staff arising from COVID-19 both from a prolonged period of home working and when working in the office. Risk assessments were prepared to address both these scenarios.

To support the office re-opening, the risk assessments were summarised into an employee-friendly format. USS ran a consultation process with all staff members in early July 2020 to obtain feedback on the new working arrangements.

These documents, together with other project activities, continue to guide USS’ approach to managing COVID-19 risks effectively.

Results of the risk assessment:

The risk assessment broke down into eight sections. These are described in the table below:

Section Risks Outcome
1. Working from home There are risks in relation to ensuring staff members can work effectively from home or that we encourage staff members to return to the office (“RTO”) too soon. All risks have been mitigated.
USS has followed the direction provided by the UK government.
2. Protecting people who are at higher risk We recognise risks that arise to vulnerable persons, from exposure to the virus (at the office or at home) and to persons with protected characteristics. All risks have been mitigated.
We recognise that this is an area of risk that is likely to change over time and we will keep monitoring to ensure USS guidance keeps pace.
3. Social distancing in the office We recognise risks that arise from performing normal work duties in the office environment. This section covers a diverse range of risks including, inter alia, risks arising from: inadequate social distancing and hygiene, commuting, use of communal spaces and office occupancy. All risks have been mitigated.
There has been close liaison with USS premises building management and implementation of social distancing and hygiene measures.
4. Receiving visitors USS recognises risks in respect of two categories of visitors: business visitors and office support visitors. All risks have been mitigated.
USS is not receiving business visitors in its offices currently, so risks in relation to this category are avoided.
5. Office readiness There are risks in relation to ensuring office infrastructure and systems are working safely and effectively, cleaning arrangements are adequate, and waste is disposed of appropriately. All risks have been mitigated.
Key checks were implemented prior to the office re-opening on 20 July 2020.
6. Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) We recognise there are risks in relation to the wearing (or not wearing) of PPE. All risks have been mitigated.
This is an area of risk where the risk response could change, alongside the science, and we will keep monitoring to ensure USS’ guidance keeps pace.
7. Travel USS recognises there are risks in relation to business travel, the delivery of goods to USS premises and in poorly communicating these arrangements. All risks have been mitigated.
USS is not currently permitting business travel, so these risks are currently avoided.
USS has limited exposure to outbound physical goods delivery, these risks are transferred.
8. Receiving goods USS is a low consumer of physical goods but recognises there is risk on the receipt of physical goods to USS premises. All risks have been mitigated.
USS has limited exposure to inbound physical goods delivery, these risks are transferred.

Download a copy of the results here.

COVID-19 Risk Assessment

Last updated: about 18 days ago