Coronavirus COVID-19: Visitor Risk Assessment

This Risk Assessment has been prepared for the reopening of Birchall Blackburn Law’s offices in Chester, Chorley, Leyland, Manchester, Morecambe, Preston and Southport.

The health and well-being of our visitors, clients and staff remains Birchall Blackburn Law’s top priority during these unprecedented times.

Advice from the Government and NHS about tackling the COVID-19 outbreak is changing rapidly and we continue to move quickly to adapt to the needs of our clients. Whether you are self-isolating, shielding or social distancing we will work with you to ensure a quality legal service whilst keeping you, your loved-ones and our staff safe and healthy.

What is the risk?

COVID-19 is transmitted through direct contact with an infected person, by being in close proximity to an infected person, or through contact with surfaces touched and contaminated by an infected person.
Office premises have been identified as an environment where people are at risk of spreading the virus if adequate measures are not put in place.

Who is at risk?

As well as our office staff and their families, other people who could be put at risk when in our offices would be clients and visitors, such as cleaners, maintenance workers, delivery drivers and postal workers.

Reducing the risk

We have put in place a number of measures within our offices to reduce the risk of the transfer of the virus. The measures are designed to avoid any unnecessary contact between staff, clients and visitors, or at the very least avoid people being in close proximity to one another.

These measures will be reviewed regularly and with reference to the latest advice and guidance from the Government and NHS.

Please continue to work with us remotely whenever possible

Through technology and flexible procedures, our teams are equipped to provide quality legal services remotely and many of our staff will continue to work safely from home.

To avoid the spread of COVID-19 we would ask you to continue to work with us by telephone, email and online video whenever possible.

Protecting our staff

Only critical staff who cannot work from home have been allowed to return to our offices.

All the offices are thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis and comply with Government guidance on safely returning to work.

We have put in place staff policies and office procedures to ensure rules around social distancing and hygiene are maintained and our staff are protected.

We are maintaining a minimum 2-metre separation requirement as we consider this is practically achievable and is the best way of reducing the risk of transmission.

Reception

Our office receptions will be gradually reopening to visitors when necessary and under strict social distancing rules.

For this purpose we have put in place safety measures to protect staff and visitors and to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

• While we prepare our offices for safe reopening, access to reception is by appointment only
• We encourage staff and visitors to travel to the office by car, bicycle or walk and avoid public transport if possible
• Clear signage has been put in place to reduce congestion and help avoid close contact
• Screens have been erected in all our receptions
• A record of all visitors will be maintained by our reception staff
• Visitors are asked not to arrive early to reduce waiting and occupancy within reception
• Anybody attending for a meeting they will be taken as quickly as possible to a meeting room
• Visitors will be asked to make use of the hand sanitiser upon entering and leaving the office reception
• Where practicable, to help manage and reduce unnecessary contact visitors such as contractors may be asked to attend the office outside normal office hours

All visitors will be provided with information about our safety measures before or upon arrival to our receptions.

Meetings

Whenever possible we recommend that face-to-face meetings are avoided. We have improved our IT capabilities to make virtual meetings more straightforward.

If a physical meeting is necessary, these will be by appointment only.

We have put measures in place to ensure meetings can take place safely in our offices and under strict social distancing rules to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

• We ask you not to arrive for a meeting early to help us reduce waiting and occupancy within our reception areas
• Only those people who need to attend the meeting should do so
• We will keep to a maximum occupancy limit for meeting rooms
• Floor markings or similar have been put in place to aid social distancing
• Equipment (such as pens and note pads) will not be shared
• Hand sanitiser is available to help maintain hygiene during meetings
• Face masks can be worn but social distancing must still be maintained
• Windows and doors will be opened to improve ventilation where possible
• Meetings can be held outdoors where reasonably suitable and with due consideration of client confidentiality

If a case of COVID-19 is confirmed

If a staff member is confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 we have put in place procedures and policies to reduce the risk of the further spread of the virus.

• A record of all visitors will be maintained on reception
• If a visitor has come into close contact with the staff member they will be promptly informed
• Staff and visitors who have had close contact with the affected staff member will be advised to self-isolate
• Office areas used by the affected staff member will be deep cleaned
• If necessary the office will be closed until we are satisfied that it can be safely reopened in accordance with Government guidance.

Maintaining safety and security

First aid officers will be present during office opening hours in case first aid is required at any time. Staff may provide assistance to visitors where necessary as long as they address hygiene and sanitation measures immediately afterwards and resume social distancing as soon as possible.

Our fire marshals will also be present within our offices in case of a fire emergency.

Staff and visitors should prioritise their personal safety over social distancing measures during an emergency and resume social distancing when it is safe to do so.