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St Andrew’s • Cheam
UNITED REFORMED CHURCH

Covid-19 Risk Register

What is a risk register?

A risk register is a formal way of recording the risks associated with an activity, the mitigations which will reduce the probablility of these risks occurring, and an assessment of their likelihood and consequences. It normally contains the following:

  • Risk: A title and description of some undesired and potentially damaging event that might occur.
  • Probability: The judged probability of the risky event happening, typically scored 1 (low) to 5 (high).
  • Severity: The degree of damage that would or might occur if the risky event occurs, typically again scored 1 to 5. Anything which might cause serious injury or death must be ranked 5.
  • Impact: This combines probability and severity and is a number equal to probability times consequence, and thus in the range 1 to 25. Anything with a very low impact - say 6 or lower, might be regarded as acceptable and not require mitigation.
  • Mitigation: This is a description of actions or precautions that have been or will be taken to reduce either the probability or the severity, and an estimate of the impact figure once these actions have been taken.
  • Contingency: This is a description of any actions that will be taken if the risky event happens, in order to reduce its impact.

Here is an example risk:

  • Risk: Someone starts feeling unwell with symptoms that might be Covid-19
  • Probability: 2 - but may change if the prevalence of the disease in the area goes up or down.
  • Severity: 5 - vulnerable people may be present.
  • Impact: 10 - although fairly unlikely, the consequence could be significant.
  • Mitigation: All persons attending will be asked if they have symptoms of the disease before entering. They will also be told that if they feel ill while on the premises they should immediately inform the Covid Monitor, who will arrange for them to be transported home if they cannot safely do so themselves.
  • Contingency: Other persons attending will be told what has happened. If possible, the Covid Monitor will establish whether the person does in fact have the disease and if so will advise the other persons attending that they should self-isolate for 10 days.

There is a template you may download and use here. It will work with Microsoft Excel or LibreOffice Calc.

What sort of risks should be covered?

The short answer is anything that might allow the spread of Covid-19.

The key ways by which the virus spreads from person to person are through the air and via surfaces. Direct person-to-person transfer occurs when an infected person coughs or sneezes (or sings or shouts) and releases virus particles from their lungs into the air. Typically these particles are in droplets of water and fall to the ground within 2 metres. This is the main reason why social distancing is so important as a mitigation.

Person-to-person infection spread is most likely if people face each other and least likely if they are back to back.

The second type of transmission is via surfaces. A infected person touches their face and gets some virus particles on their hand. The person then touches a door handle. A second person touches the handle, and then their face, and is infected. The mitigation for this is encouraging people not to touch their faces, and to wash or sanitise their hands frequently, both of which can break the path of the spread.

People who are infected with the virus often do not show symptoms in the first few days, and some never show symptoms. If you have a sizeable group of people meeting regularly it is almost certain that you will have an infectious person in your midst at some point.

Two other easily-applied mitigations (actions to reduce the spread) are face coverings and ventilation. Face coverings reduce the amount of virus spread when you cough, sneeze or simply breath out. They reduce the chance of you spreading the virus. They do not do much to reduce the risk of you catching the virus. Transparent visors are not a substitute for face masks, because their purpose is to deflect other people's coughed-out virus particles from reaching your face and infecting you, so they are a mitigation for people such as shop till operators to whom multiple people speak from a close distance.

Ventilation helps to sweep away any virus particles in the air. Although most droplets fall to the ground, very small ones can linger in the air like fine dust, and having ventilation, especially on two sides, helps to remove them.

Gloves are only recommmended as mitigation for some specific high-risk activities. The virus cannot normally penetrate your skin and will wash off or degrade with soap (or detergent) and water.

Sample risks

The risks you need to consider will vary according to what your group does, but here are some to think about. This is not likely to cover all your risks, and you will need to add any that are specific to your activities or the way that you operate. Bear in mind that you must have a method of checking that mitigations are being carried out, and for what you will do if they are not (for example, an individual who repeatedly does not social distance).

  • Group members waiting to come in do not social distance.
  • Members do not wear face coverings even when asked to do so.
  • An infected person without symptoms (or concealing their symptoms) is amongst your group.
  • Surfaces, handles, switches, chairs etc in the buildings have been infected by a previous occupant.
  • Members share equipment, toys, balls, books, instruments, mats etc.
  • Members are unavoidably* not social distancing because of the nature of your activity.
  • Someone starts showing Covid-19 symptoms** during your session.
  • You have adopted face coverings as a mitigation, but a group member is unable to comply (eg has breathing difficulties).
  • You have adopted open windows as a mitigation but the weather makes this impossible.
  • Group members do not social distance after your activity ends and before they are well clear of the church buildings.
  • You have insufficient leaders available becuase some are ill or self-isolating.
  • You have members who are vulnerable (over 70 or having non-Covid health issues).
  • You have members who are highly vulnerable (over 80 or previously on the Government's shielding list).
  • Members share food or drink items or containers.

* The Government guidelines do allow social distancing to be relaxed if it is unavoidable and mitigated, for example if two people pass in a narrow corridor and both wear face coverings. But unavoidable must mean that there is no reasonable way of avoiding it. It doesn't mean inconvenient!

** Symptoms include a persistent cough, loss of sense of smell or taste, fever (high temperature or shivering), shortness of breath.

Updated 11 September 2020

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