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Building Re-opening - a risk management guide

With COVID-19 restrictions being relaxed many businesses will gradually be re-opened after a temporary shutdown.

However, re-opening can present specific hazards, which if not planned or managed properly can result in damage, injury, legal action and further disruption to your business

Where production is either scaled up or scaled down (compared to the pre-shutdown period), there can be increased risk of fire, explosion, injury, machinery and plant damage or breakdown. This might be caused by a number of reasons like production overload, delayed maintenance cycles or frequent start up / shut down periods.

Also your business operations and activities may have changed over the last few months, for example, you might be using different raw materials due to supply chain challenges or perhaps you are producing different products, keeping an increased level of stock, introducing different processes or procedures or changing shift patterns and staffing. These changes might introduce new hazards or exposures into your workplace. So you should look at reassessing and adapting your safe systems of work and working procedures, training, fire and security protection systems.

The planning and initial actions you take in getting your business back to ‘fit for purpose’ are often critical and provide a safe working structure within which you can successfully recommence operations.

Remember if you have furloughed staff, you will need to consider the timeframe agreed for bringing them back into the workplace, so allow for this in your planning arrangements.

If you can’t create a safe working environment, whether that’s because of inadequate fire protection, security, unsafe machinery / plant, employee competency or implementing COVID 19 precautions, then those operations should be postponed until corrective measures can be put in place.

To help businesses, Zurich Insurance have produced a guide to consider the steps needed to safely re-open your building.

The two checklists provided at the end of the guide cover the steps needed for:

  • Building Reopening

  • Restoring Power to Machinery (industrial risks)

Building Reopening Guidance
Download PDF • 211KB

Zurich Insurance are an insurance partner of Northern Risk Solutions.

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