UNISON Advice: Court, Hub, and Contact Centre RIsk Assessments

The following advice is provided to assist branches and representatives with involvement in the NPS covid19 recovery work in courts, hubs and contact centres.

Stephen Monsarratt, who is one of the UNISON representatives on the NPS Health and Safety Committee, is available to assist any branch, or reps, who have any questions or need additional advice. Stephen’s contact details can be found at the end of this e-mail.


  1. Things to Do
  • Amy Rees’ request that Regions provide a Recovery Review of Regional EDP’s has created a need for Risk assessments (Ras) to be carried out at short notice. It is very important that UNISON engages in this process. This is positive despite the short notice.
  • NPS is required to involve TU’s in all Risk Assessments for premises which are due to re-open or re-admit probation staff. They may need informing/reminding of this at Regional level of this requirement. Amy Rees was contacting Regional Directors to ensure they must involve Unions and that Risk Assessments shouldn’t be signed off without Union involvement.
  • Obtain the schedule of the reopening of locations in your Division and also confirm those that have remained open. Regional Directors should be asked to provide a written schedule showing which premises are due to re-open, when, and whether a risk assessment has been undertaken for each premises.
  • Check that there has been union involvement (either UNISON or Napo) in approving the risk assessment for each premises prior to NPS signing it off.
  • Don’t assume that all SPO’s and Business Managers have Risk Assessment experience, as they may not have. This is a learning curve for everyone.
  • Ensure NPS H&S leads in your Division are engaged in the risk assessment process.
  • Liaise with Napo to spread the two unions’ health and safety resources across your Division, as it is unlikely that UNISON/Napo will be able to cover all risk assessments for all premises, and we will need to pool our resources
  • Priority should be given to those locations which are due to reopen imminently (courts appear to be the most likely), with physical inspections where possible. You can under H&S legislation insist on inspecting. If inspections are not possible due to lack of H&S Reps then ensure dialogue takes place with members who know the buildings to inform your approach to the risk assessment.
  • Make sure RA’s are also done for those locations that have remained open. These may not have not been done previously and can be done in a meeting.
  • Ensure RA’s are done for those locations not yet scheduled to open. These can be a desk top process via meetings at this stage.
  • The RA templates are well constructed, but if you spot a risk not identified include it.
  • Risk Assessments are live documents you can and should go back as circumstances change. This may mean that you need to continue a dialogue with your Division into next week and beyond.
  • Remember the big issues for covid-19 are HAND HYGIENE, SOCIAL DISTANCING, VENTILATION, and you are looking for how these can be assured in every location, and if they cannot THEN PPE must be issued and worn by staff, or structural alterations put in place (e.g. screens). Otherwise, if there are risks which have not been addressed – THE PREMISES SHOULD NOT RE-OPEN.
  1. Filling in the Risk Assessment template
  • The Risk Assessment templates are simple. Activity – Risk – Control Measure – Reviewed Risk.  *Ignore/remove prepopulated risks, they serve to confuse
  • Generally anything that involves people behaviour/compliance is a Significant  risk initially and whatever control measure is used it will always remain Moderate. Inanimate things can be often reduced to Minimal
  • Rate each element not just headings
  • Put detail in the Control, e.g. Number of staff allowed in an office. See the real live example of Control Measures on the template attached.

I’m happy to answer queries, prior to and during the process if anyone needs help.

Take care


Stephen Monsarratt

NPS Unison Steward and H&S Rep
Unison NPS Sector National Committee – Northern Region Representative, National H&S Lead & Approved Premises Lead

Community Interventions Residential and Accommodation Support Services
Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service

Mob: 07955 874246