STEp 1 of 6: ASSESS

Last updated: 30th June 2020, Checked: 4th Nov 2021
Diagram showing 'assess' highlighted

This guidance intends to walk you through returning to deliver services safely for clients. Please also refer to the official health and safety advice at Government guidance and Health and Safety England.

Our Resource Database will also help you to complete the steps, as it offers links to specific advice in each of these areas.

Conduct a risk assessment

As an organisation providing services you have a responsibility to protect staff, volunteers and clients from harm. This includes taking steps to protect against COVID-19. Before returning to normal service delivery, consider the risks posed to all those involved.

You will need a risk assessment for the venue and facilities where services will be delivered, and people involved such as staff, volunteers, clients and contractors.  The assessment must cover hygiene practices and social distancing measures. We have set out the key steps below. 

Refugee Action's how-to guide on prioritising clients and services will help you to look at what services you provide and how you deliver them.

What to do

Follow a risk assessment template which will help you to:

  • Identify hazards - what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus?
  • Assess the risks - who could be at risk and how likely it is that they could be exposed?
  • Control the risks - remove the activity or situation, and if this isn’t possible, minimise the risk.
  • Record your findings - ensure your findings are documented and readily available for your staff and volunteers to view.

Share the results of the risk assessment

  • Create clear return-to-work procedures - use your risk assessment to develop a safe plan for staff, volunteers and clients. 
  • Share with staff, volunteers and clients.
  • Consider publishing the results of your risk assessment on your website.

Display a copy of the risk assessment in the workplace

  • This is a government requirement and will show you have followed this guidance.

Regularly review and update the controls

  • Your risk assessment should be a living document. Set out a timetable for reviewing and identify who is responsible.

Examples from organisations

Stoke Citizen's Advice Bureau have shared their COVID-19 risk assessment. Examples will need adapting to your organisation's specific hazards and controls.

GOVAN Community project have also shared their COVID-19 risk assessment.

NCVO Webinar

Assessing health and safety risk in uncertain times.
- Webinar video
- View the slides
- Download the transcript (Word, 69kb)

Factors to consider

Are any of your staff, volunteers or clients considered vulnerable due to COVID-19?

Plan how to handle ‘medium’ and ‘high’ risk clients arriving at a session. Approach with sensitivity, confidentiality, boundaries and data protection in mind.

Consider individuals who may be more vulnerable

Groups to consider who may be at higher risk:

  1. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals
  2. People who are shielding (see: Public Health England, Health Protection Scotland and Public Health Wales)
  3. Young persons
  4. Destitute individuals
  5. Individuals in shared accommodation
  6. New or expectant mothers
  7. Individuals with disabilities
  8. Individuals with health problems
  9. Older people

Risks to consider

Mental and emotional risks
For example, moving to face-to-face provision could impact on team wellbeing, such as concerns about catching the virus.

Risks associated with public transport
One of our partner organisations has considered reducing risk for staff and volunteers by paying taxi expenses. Other forms of lower risk transport such as walking, running or cycling could be encouraged, for example with a bike to work scheme or cycle racks.

The national and local COVID-19 situation
You should consider your local  R-rating for your area and any local advice in addition to national government guidance.

Missed safety and maintenance work during COVID-19
You should check:
•  Fire safety and other equipment
•  For Legionella, e.g. the hot and cold water or air conditioning
•  Building maintenance and safety with your landlord
•  Your plans with your insurance company

    Set clear procedures for staff, volunteers and clients feeling unwell

    This should include guidance on self-isolation and steps that facilitate contact tracing. If the individual is on your premises, consider designating an isolation room. The NHS provides information on recognising the symptoms and what to do


    These resources are built by you, for you.
    Email us if there’s anything you would like to add.

    Email us