Case Study – Risk Assessments
Chandran manages a local mixed business selling specialty herbs and spices, grocery and fresh vegetables. He has been asked to do a risk assessment to make sure the business is addressing COVID-19 risks.
Chandran understands the business has duties under WHS laws to keep its workers and customers safe. He looks at the Safe Work Australia, state’s WHS regulator and health department websites for information on what the risks from COVID-19 might be and what they can do to manage those risks at the shop.
From this information he creates a list to carry out his risk assessment, which includes:
- identifying the risks—in this case, workers and customers contracting COVID-19 at the shop
- determining how severe the risk is—that is, what could happen if a person contracts COVID-19
- whether any existing control measures at the shop are effective—such as their usual cleaning routines and hygiene practices
- what action should be taken to control the risk—that is, what else should the shop do to ensure workers and customers are not exposed to COVID-19, so far as is reasonably practicable, and
- how urgently the action needs to be taken.
Chandran knows he must consult workers on health and safety matters and at the next staff meeting he asks the other workers for their ideas. Workers identify one new risk Chandran hadn’t thought of (the metal scoop customers use to self-serve dried lentils and pulses is currently touched by multiple customers in a day, and the staff member suggests during the pandemic they should actually pre-bag and price 500g and 1kg bags) and a more effective control measure for another (using gloves while handling produce and restocking, where possible).
Chandran updates the risk assessment with their suggestions and hands a copy out to each worker so they can see what needs to be done, the new procedures at the store and what each worker is responsible for.
He prints out a copy of the risk assessment and sticks it on the microwave door. He also sets himself a reminder on his phone to do a weekly spot check at the shop to ensure the controls are working effectively and to review the risk assessment in two weeks’ time.
Case Study – Risk Assessments
William owns a bicycle retail and repair shop which has seen an increase in business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a busier store and higher demand for bikes and repairs, William considers the measures that he needs to put in place to meet public health requirements and how he can lower the risk of COVID-19 at the store.
William decides it is not reasonably practicable for his 10 employees to work from home as they are all involved in sales and repairs, which must be done at the premises. He looks through the COVID-19 resource kit on the Safe Work Australia website and identifies the control measures that are relevant to his business. This includes physical distancing, cleaning and hygiene practices and policies for employees who show symptoms of COVID-19.
The business regularly holds events to allow customers to test ride their range of bikes, with attendance of up to 20 people. William understands that these events pose a higher risk of spreading COVID-19 and do not meet the new rules for public gatherings, so immediately cancels these activities.
The business also allows customers to take bikes from the store for test rides. William is aware that it is possible for the COVID-19 virus to be on different surfaces for periods of time and this may result in transmission. It is difficult to disinfect bikes after each customer use due to cleaning products potentially contaminating and damaging parts of the bike.
William weighs up the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission from test rides and how to eliminate or minimise the risk of that happening, including measures like ceasing test rides or regularly disinfecting bikes. He then considers the suitability of those measures against their cost.
William decides the best way to minimise the risk is to temporarily limit the number of customer test rides. He clearly communicates this new practice to customers through his website and using signage at the store. William considers that this may result in a decline in sales but knows that this is necessary to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. William will still ensure that his employees disinfect bikes after each customer use but by limiting the number of test rides it will reduce the potential damage to his stock from disinfecting practices and save on cleaning costs and staff time.