Is the employer required to update the occupational risk assessments related to COVID-19?
The state of the epidemic in connection with the threat of the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID-19 announced by the ordinance of the Minister of Health of March 20, 2020 is a new challenge related to the protection of workers’ health. In most workplaces, this virus is not a factor directly related to the performance of work and as such has not been included in the obligatory occupational risk assessments so far. Exposing workers’ health to an epidemic now requires updating existing risk assessments and introducing additional protection measures. Updating the risk assessment taking into account the SARS-CoV-2 virus as a factor that threatens health during work can be done by:
- identification of workplaces and situations where the probability of contact with a person potentially infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus or objects and rooms contaminated with it is the highest,
- estimation and assessment of the risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus related to the above workplace situations. As a result of the assessment, it should be determined whether and what preventive measures should be applied to reduce the risk. Such an assessment should be documented and made available to employees for their informed participation in the COVID-19 prevention process. Workplaces and situations in which the likelihood of contact with a potentially infected person or with objects and premises contaminated with it is greatest include, first of all:
- places where several people habitually stay or move at the same time, such as corridors, elevators, break rooms, toilets;
- workstations where tasks are performed that require simultaneous work or cooperation of several people, staying close to each other and / or using the same tools and equipment;
- • workplaces where tasks are performed that involve contact with clients or other people outside the workplace;
- situations that require several people to be in one room at the same time, such as meetings, trainings, conferences etc .;
- situations in which it is necessary to contact people outside the company (business trips, work with clients, etc.).
The assessment of the occupational risk associated with the identified hazards consists in determination:
- probability of occurrence of adverse health and life conditions for employees the consequences of these threats,
- the severity of these consequences.