No doubt, preparations for re-opening your premises safely are well under way. To assist with those, we have prepared a list of 12 things you want to make sure are being considered.
1 Risk assessment – a living document
You will no doubt be aware of the obligation to carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment and to share that with workers. But it shouldn't then just be filed and forgotten about. It needs to be implemented, reviewed regularly and revised as needed.
2 Be aware of the differences between Scotland and England
There is a growing divergence between the position in Scotland and England.
3 Physical distancing in practice
Consider pinch points including entrances/exist, lifts, toilets and corridors. Also think about how people move within the premises and ways in which this can be adjusted to reduce congestion, such as one way flows and number restrictions.
If there will be queuing outside, consider the impact on communal areas for which you may be responsible.
Do you need to increase your monitoring of the communal areas to ensure compliance?
Additional handwashing facilities should be provided at key points throughout the parts of the premises for which you are responsible, including entrances, bathrooms and at lifts.
Put in place enhanced cleaning regimes for common areas, and consider the extent to which any additional costs can be recouped through service charges.
5 Returning to unoccupied premises
If the premises have been closed due to lockdown and utilities and other systems have been shut off, consider having them checked by a qualified person before use.
You should also consider the risk of legionella in water systems. This has been considered by my colleague Noelle in her article on legionella concerns as businesses reopen.
Tenants may make changes to their property to comply with the COVID-19 guidance and legislation. It is important to consider whether these changes affect your health & safety obligations.
It is also important to have a dialogue with tenants regarding any changes. Be sure to listen to their responses and feedback.
You might want to consider getting a written assurance from tenants that they are adhering (and will continued to adhere) to government guidance and legislation.
7 Maintenance and repair
Remember to consider how proactive and reactive maintenance and repair work for which you are responsible can also be completed safely.
Review your policies to ensure that any changes in the way you are operating doesn’t impact your cover and speak to your broker or insurer if you are unsure.
9 General health & safety obligations
Don’t forget that existing health & safety duties and obligations have not disappeared or lessened as a result of the pandemic.
You will remain responsible for the safety of your workers, and may also be liable to visitors of the premises as an occupier.
10 Other health & safety risks
Consider how any changes you have made might impact other health & safety issues. For example, ensure that any alterations to layout don’t interfere with fire routes and ensure that restrictions on numbers don’t leave you short in terms of fire marshals.
11 Consider protected characteristics
Ensure that you have considered the impact any changes you put in place might have on those with protected characteristics. Ensure that all changes you have made take into account reasonable adjustments for those that need them.
12 Delineation of health & safety responsibilities
Finally, it is important to ensure that the lines of responsibility between managing agent, landlord and tenant are clear.