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Outdoor coaching and potential pool returns – Risk considerations for returning to work

June 01, 2020

The following is drafted in partnership with BSCA legal support and advisers, rradar; it should be read in line with advice previously issued and is intended for the consideration of BSCA members. As the sport awaits detailed guidelines from respective home governing bodies, we ask that members and their employers/service users, use the time available to consider the following as part of a safe return to small group activities and an eventual return to the pool – all the below are relevant for such.

The unprecedented restrictions placed on all businesses by the UK Government as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are beginning to be eased. The approach being taken is varying across the UK nations, and there have also been suggestions that restrictions may be re-imposed locally if there is a rise in the rate of infection. Coaches need to carefully consider how to manage a return to work if they are able or wish to.

Risk assessments

The objective is that all programmes should carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment.

Employers have a legal responsibility to protect workers from risk to their health and safety, so everything practicable must be done to eliminate or mitigate the risks, whilst recognising the risk of COVID-19 cannot be eliminated completely.

The COVID-19 risk assessment should aim to address the risks of COVID-19 and put in place sensible measures to do so. This does not mean huge amounts of paperwork must be produced, and employers with less than five employees do not have to write their risk assessment down.

Employers have a duty to consult their employees and by discussing with them the risks and how best to minimise them shows that their health and safety is being taken seriously. The workers who the measures will protect will likely have the best idea as to how to implement them practically. Employers must consult the health and safety representative if there is one selected from a trade union, or alternatively, a representative chosen by the workers. Employers and workers should aim to work together collaboratively to try to overcome and eliminate the risk of COVID-19 to the best of their abilities.

If employers are not taking action to comply with the Public Health England Guidance then the local authority or HSE can consider taking a range of actions to improve better management of workforce risks. The HSE can issue specific advice to employers through enforcement notices to ensure proper compliance and secure improvements.

Managing the risks

Employers should work with employees and other relevant contractors in order to put into place measures which are practical and reduce the risk to the best of their ability dependent on the situation. Employers should work through the following steps in order:

  • Increase the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning in every workplace, even if this outdoors.
  • Employers should try to ensure the workplace used complies with the social distancing measures in place such as by working at least two metres apart at all times.
  • We remind members of the limitations in terms of group sizes at this time but if over time people must work face-to-face for sustained amounts of time then the employer must assess whether the activity must go ahead as nobody is obliged to work in an unsafe environment.
  • Where social distancing measures cannot be followed, employers should consider whether the job is essential for the business to operate. If so, employers should take mitigating actions to minimise the risk. Mitigating actions include:
    • Increasing frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.
    • Keeping activity time as short as possible.
    • Using screens or barriers to separate workers from each other.
    • Using back-to-back or side-to-side working wherever possible.
    • Reduce contact with others by fixed teams or partnering.

Risk assessments should also account for those workers who are more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19.

Once the risk assessment has been completed, the results should be shared with all involved or affected so that clarity prevails and that risk of breach is minimised

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