COVID-19 Risk Assessment and Business Continuity

Updated 1 April 2021

Staying Covid-19 Secure in 2020 COVID-19 Risk Assessment and Business Continuity

The Materials Processing Institute recognises that our employees and their families, as well as our clients, suppliers and partners will be worried about the impact of COVID-19. This page outlines the Risk Assessment and key activities, we are undertaking to minimise disruption to our normal commercial activities and to protect and support our employees and the wider community.

This Risk Assessment is continually reviewed and will be updated in response to the changing nature of the risk and in line with the latest Government advice.

The Materials Processing Institute’s COVID-19 response began in February, based on observation of activity in other countries, particularly the Far East.  Throughout the crisis, the Institute has remained focussed on our objectives to:

  1. Keep all staff, visitors and their families safe and well.
  2. Continue the operation of the Institute, in so far as is possible.
  3. Avoid any detrimental impact on the income of colleagues.

Immediate action was taken to protect colleagues and their families as follows:

  • Anyone in the vulnerable group, or anyone who lives with, or cares for someone in the vulnerable group worked from home immediately.  Where such people were unable to work from home they were furloughed on full pay.
  • All other staff to work from home where possible.
  • Recognising that not all staff can work from home, management controls were put in place to ensure social distancing at all times.  In areas where social distancing is not possible, due to the nature of the work all staff in those areas have been furloughed on full pay.

To support home working staff have been provided with company IT equipment at home, and office furniture as required.  All staff were able to carry out an ergonomic assessment of their home working space and request support where modifications are required.  All staff have been provided with online health and safety training on working from home and in office ergonomics.

As is usual in the Institute, all of these actions have been taken in full consultation with the staff, trade union and directly elected staff director on the Institute board.  There is a COVID-19 planning group, which meets weekly.  It is chaired by the CEO and includes personnel from key functions, including the trade unions and directly elected staff director.  The minutes of this group are detailed and are shared with all colleagues and external stakeholders.  Where best practice is identified this is shared with the SME tenants at the Institute campus.

Actions have also been taken to support the national effort.  We have set up a hand sanitiser manufacturing facility in one of our laboratories and are now supplying hand sanitiser free of charge to all of the Marie Curie nurses between York and Scotland.  We also registered for the government scheme to manufacture ventilator components.  All of our colleagues have been asked to be aware of people in our own community who may be self-isolating for protection and be prepared to offer help and support.

In recent weeks the Institute COVID-19 planning group has begun to focus on measures that need to be taken to ensure the safety of colleagues during the period when restrictions on activity begin to be lifted.  This document is intended as a risk assessment and working procedure for managing the Institute during this period.  It is a live document that is reviewed weekly and will be updated from time to time in line with best practice information available.  The ALARP (as low as reasonably practicable) principal of risk management has been adopted with respect to COVID-19, consistent with how risks are managed elsewhere in the business.

Key Messages

The most important immediate ongoing measures to be taken by all people are:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. See Catch it, Bin it, Kill it.  Put used tissues in the bin straight away.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. See hand washing guidance .  Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
  • Wear a face mask in communal areas, or where two, or more people gather in a room.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Further information and government advice can be found here.

Risk Control Measure
Protection of Vulnerable Staff

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable have been identified and will work from home.  This applies to anyone living with, or caring for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable people.

People who are over 60, or vulnerable are to work from home where possible.  Where staff aged over 60, or who are vulnerable are unable to work from home, additional social distancing measures to be put in place, where required. These measures also to apply to any staff living with, or caring for, someone who is over 60, or in the vulnerable group.

Colleagues who move into the over 60, vulnerable group, or clinically extremely vulnerable groups (including those who live with, or care for people in these groups), to inform their manager as soon as possible.

All colleagues working from home are covered by the Institute corporate insurances in the same way as if they were at work.

Supporting Colleagues

All colleagues to work from home where this is possible.

Sick pay to be extended, such that all staff and all agency contractors receive full pay from day one (details as per email of 19th March).  This also applies to colleagues who are self-isolating and are unable to work from home.

All staff are required to check their temperature each day.  Visitor temperatures also to be checked.

A temperature sensor is available for this purpose in reception and all staff, apart from the Normanton Plant team, are to use the main entrance.    
A separate detector is available for the Normanton Plant team.

Where a positive indication is received, the individual will be requested to remain in their vehicle, or the medical room for 10 minutes prior to a retest.  If the rest is positive, they will be required to leave the Institute for 24 hours.

All colleagues to be supported in flexible working in relation to childcare (particularly whilst schools are closed) and caring for vulnerable people. This could include support such as shopping for food and medicines.

Acknowledge that for some colleagues, returning to the workplace may cause anxiety and other mental health issues.  Any such staff to be supported in continuing to work from home and making a gradual return to the workplace as appropriate.

Reducing Transmission

Increased cleaning protocols have been implemented, particularly around tea areas, handrails and touch points, including during the day.  It is still important that colleagues use the handrail when proceeding up and down stairs.

Face masks are to be worn in all communal areas of the Institute, or where two, or more people gather in a room.

In introducing this rule we do not want to place our cleaning staff at any greater risk when emptying bins and so our preference is very strongly for people to use a reusable face mask, which can be taken home and laundered.

  • If you do use a disposable face mask then please do not place this in the bins at work, but take it home and dispose of it there.
  • If for whatever reason it is essential that you do dispose of a face mask at work, then please use the clinical waste bin in the medical room.
  • If you forget your face mask then we do have a stock of disposable face masks that will be made available for staff and visitors in reception.

These guidelines apply to the use of additional face masks for the purposes of preventing COVID-19 as described above.  They do not alter in any way the current arrangements for use and disposal of face masks for dust protection and job related PPE, such as activities in the Normanton Plant, laboratories and when visiting client sites.

Arrangements have been made to supply every colleague with at least two reusable face masks.

In line with government guidelines anyone with a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face mask is exempt from this rule.  Please be aware that if someone is not wearing a face mask they would likely welcome you reminding them if they have forgotten, but that not all disabilities are visible and it is important to be sensitive to the fact that someone may be unable to wear a mask.

Reduce the number of touch points by installation of magnetic devices to hold open fire doors.  Security doors to remain closed and controlled.

Sanitising wipes available in tea areas for all colleagues to clean tea, areas touch points, IT equipment, etc.

Colleagues advised to press security buttons with their elbow, or whilst wearing gloves.

Lift capacity reduced to single occupancy only and hand sanitiser available at lifts.

Hand sanitiser in place at main entrances.

Staggering of start and finish times was considered, but this is already in place at the Institute, so no further action is required.

Capacity of car parking and bike racks was reviewed in light of government guidance on use of public transport and existing provision is deemed to be sufficient.

The number of entry and exit points to buildings was reviewed and is deemed to be sufficient.

Provision for storage of staff clothing and bags was reviewed and found to be adequate, with staff having individual offices, or lockers.

Recommendation for staff to change into workwear at the workplace and for workwear to be laundered at the workplace is consistent with current procedures.

Flow of staff through buildings and recommendations for one-way routes, was reviewed in line with other recommendations not to have unnecessary trips around buildings.  On balance it was concluded that despite the fact that 2m social distancing is not possible when passing in a corridor, introducing one-way systems would be counterproductive, as it risk spreading virus further around a building and could introduce new risks, including moving up and down stairs.

Overall risk is related to both distance and time, and therefore staff are encouraged to either proceed briskly past one another in corridors, or to wait at the end of a corridor for someone to pass.  Similarly, please wait at landings to allow a colleague to pass up a staircase.

All staff, visitors and contractors to maintain a social distance at all times, excepting:

Where this has been accounted for in a task-based risk assessment and additional measures have been put in place.

Where a ‘buddy’ system, or ‘work bubble’ is operating (e.g. in Normanton Plant)

Whilst briefly passing a colleague in the corridor, implementing the additional protective measures as outlined above.

Visitors to the Institute to be minimised, in so far as is practicable for the continuation of commercial activities.  The number of people a visitor meets to be limited as far as practicable.

Additional measures have been put in place for visitors, with sanitised badges and no re-use of pens.  Visitors who come into contact with someone at the Institute who is then infected within two weeks of the visit, to be contacted and informed.

Gym to remain closed.

All staff to take particular care when using the lavatories.  The following recommendation to be followed:

  • Only one gentleman to use the urinals at any one time.
  • Turn off taps with elbows (where possible), or a paper towel.
  • Keep the lavatory seat down when flushing.
  • Wait in cubicles to allow people to pass.

When using shower areas, please change within the cubicles where there is space to do this and do not leave personal items in the shower areas.

Recruitment to be virtual where possible, with exceptions for skills testing, operation of equipment, etc.

Adapting Workspaces

All staff moved to individual offices, where shared offices were too small to maintain social distancing, including entry and egress from the office, as well as when sitting at a desk.

Use of conference rooms to be discouraged, with meetings to take place over Teams, even when colleagues are in the same building.  Conference room capacities have been reviewed and chairs moved.

Laboratory spaces have been reviewed and found to be generally suitable for maintaining social distancing, though activities to still be coordinated through Operations meeting, to eliminate co-working where possible.  Where multiple working may happen, single occupancy areas have been marked out in laboratories.

Shared workspaces to be cleaned before and after use.  Areas identified and already implemented are reception and the SEM.  Same procedure to apply to all shared laboratory equipment and associated IT.

For tools that are in constant use it might be more practical to use gloves, or where possible, have multiple tools assigned to individual people.

Adapting Normanton Plant Operations

Changes made to existing procedures, to support social distancing during melts.

Provision of PPE, including face masks, is being trialled.  Specification of masks to be in line with WHO guidelines and where possible not competing with supplies for the NHS.

Staggering of breaks.

Staff paired together in sub teams.

Normanton Plant team have undertaken training in new COVID secure working practices.

Business Travel

The current procedure is that all travel requests will be authorised only within a two-week rolling window.  No travel will be authorised where alternative arrangements could be made.  This applies to local, national and international travel.  Any travel that has been booked by an individual without a prior authorisation form will not be reimbursed.

This process is in line with government guidelines for all overnight stays to be centrally logged.

Colleagues are recommended to take their own pillow for overnight stays.

Where a client requires a negative test before entering their site, these can be booked in advance by colleagues at NHS centres offering asymptomatic testing.

If a colleague tests positive then they must isolate according to government regulations, but they may return any pool, or hire car to the Institute site first, where it will be quarantined for 72 hours before cleaning.

It is not possible to maintain social distancing in pool or hire cars.  Single person occupancy of cars is preferred where possible.  Colleagues may request to use their own car for company business, subject to having appropriate business insurance.

Increased cleaning protocols for pool cars and all colleagues using the cars to wipe touch points before and after use.  Wipes are available in pool cars.  Disposable gloves to be available in pool cars.

Journeys to be planned in advance, including rest breaks, in line with current Institute guidance to take a break after 2 hours of driving.  Motorway and A road breaks can be planned using:

Use contactless for fuel payments and use gloves for when using fuel and welfare facilities.

Development and delivery of online training courses.  Some modules developed and delivery started.

Control of Incidents

Where an employee, or visitor to the Institute becomes a confirmed case of COVID-19, the management of the Institute will follow the guidance of the Health Protection Team, with regard to risk assessment, cleaning communal areas and colleagues who may have worked in close proximity.

Anyone who develops a persistent cough, or fever, or if anyone in their household develops these symptoms, they should go home and arrange for a COVID-19 test as per government guidelines.  If the test is positive then they will need to self-isolate for 10 days from the date that symptoms started.  Such colleagues may use this time to work from home, if they are well enough to do so and if this is possible in their role.  If this is not possible then normal sickness arrangements apply.

If a colleague becomes ill whilst at work and symptoms are minor, they should:

  • Inform their manager, preferably by using their own ‘phone.
  • Go home and enter self-isolation as outlined above.
  • Their manager should determine which areas will require disinfectant and cleaning.

If a colleague becomes ill whilst at work and the symptoms are more serious, they should

  • Move immediately to the medical room.
  • Call 111, preferably by using their own ‘phone.
  • Inform their manager and reception, preferably by using their own ‘phone
  • If they need to use the toilet, they should use the toilet adjacent to the medical room.
  • Reception to ensure that the toilet adjacent to the medical room is not used by any other colleagues, or visitors during this period.
  • All tissues to be disposed of in the clinical waste bin in the medical room.
IT Security & Working from Home

Provision of IT equipment for staff to support home working, including training and risk assessment in home office ergonomics.

Roll out of multi factor authentication and further measures to increase IT security for home working are ongoing.

Acceleration of transition to cloud-based services to facilitate remote data access.

Contractor and Engineering Management

With fewer people on site, minor faults may be overlooked.  Consequently, there is now a daily inspection of engineering equipment and infrastructure.

Access to site changes to be included in contractor briefings and contractors to be working to the Institute risk assessment as a minimum, plus any additional measures dependent on the specific task.

Contractors are also expected to report to the Institute and incident of one of their employees who has attended the campus, subsequently falling ill with COVID-19 symptoms, or testing positive for COVID-19, within the 14 day period.

We are working hard to adapt our businesses as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. We recognise that this crisis presents tremendous challenges for everyone and we as a business are committed to help and support one another to come through this difficult period.

The Institute shares the concerns and worries of our clients, suppliers and partners and our priority is protecting the health of our families, colleagues and anyone else we engage with throughout the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have put plans in place to remain fully operational and continue to provide all practicable services and support. All measures aim to slow the spread of the virus, minimise disruption to our business and maintain the delivery of projects for our clients and partners. These actions will support business continuity and ensure our business is resilient to unforeseen events and external factors, as well as appropriately protected against risk.

This is an unprecedented situation which will require us to continually review and evaluate how we operate as a business. We will endeavour to share information and advice for everyone’s benefit, and we are committed to remain transparent and to look after all our colleagues and their families and continue to work with and support our clients, partners and suppliers.

We will continue to make every effort to fulfil our commitments to our employees, clients, partners and other stakeholders.

If you have any concerns or questions, please get in touch, as by working together we can support each other as effectively as possible during these challenging times.

Members of the public, businesses, employers and employees are being asked to follow Government, NHS and Public Health England guidelines which can be found at

Stay safe and take care of each other.