Reopening for Business after COVID-19 Shutdown? Run a Risk Assessment

Will you be reopening for business soon? Here are several things to consider to mitigate exposure to COVID-19 coronavirus risks.



While the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on people throughout the world, many business owners are looking forward to reopening their businesses as soon as possible. But even when restrictions are lifted, there’s a lot for companies to consider before they reopen their doors.

Reopening after Coronavirus: Determine “When”

Many business owners are wondering when the best time might be for their company to reopen. Two primary things to consider include:

  • Guidance from state and local governments—The COVID-19 pandemic impacts states and regions in different ways. Just because a business is allowed to reopen in one region of the country doesn’t automatically mean your operations will be allowed to resume as well. As such, it’s critical to understand and review all relevant state and local orders to determine if and when your business is allowed to reopen.
  • Knowing the risks—If and when the government allows all businesses to reopen, that doesn’t necessarily mean COVID-19 is no longer a threat to your operations. What’s more, some businesses may have greater COVID-19 exposures than others, underscoring the importance of performing a thorough risk assessment before reopening. Prior to conducting a risk assessment, it’s important to review guidance from OSHA, state and local agencies, industry associations as well as your local health department.

Reopening after Coronavirus: Conduct a Risk Assessment

Even after the government allows businesses to reopen, companies still need to determine if it makes sense to resume operations. Safely restarting your business won’t be as simple as unlocking the front door.

Before reopening, businesses should perform a risk assessment to determine what steps must be taken. While the complexity of risk assessments will differ from business to business, they typically involve the following steps:

  • Identify hazards—When it comes to COVID-19, businesses need to think critically about their exposures, particularly if an infected person entered their facilities. Perform a walkthrough of the premises and consider high-risk areas, such as breakrooms and other areas where people may congregate. It’s also important to consider what tasks employees typically perform and whether or not they are especially exposed to COVID-19 risks when performing their duties.
  • Decide who may be harmed and how—Once you’ve identified hazards, determine what populations of your workforce are exposed to COVID-19 risks. When performing this evaluation, you will need to make note of high-risk individuals, such as staff members who meet with customers or individuals with preexisting medical conditions.
  • Assess risks—Once you have identified the risks facing your business, you must analyze them to determine their potential consequences. For each risk facing your business, you’ll want to determine:
    • How likely is this particular risk to occur?
    • What are the ramifications should this risk occur?

When analyzing your risks, consider potential financial losses, compliance requirements, employee safety, business disruptions, reputational harm and other consequences.

  • Control risks—With a sense of what the threats are to your business, you can then consider ways to address them. There are a variety of methods businesses can use to manage their risks, including:
    • Risk avoidance—Eliminate certain hazards, activities and exposures from operations altogether.
    • Risk control—Take preventative actions to control potential risks.
    • Risk transfer—Transfer the potential risk to a third party.

For COVID-19, control measures could include cleaning protocols, work from home orders and mandated personal protective equipment (PPE) usage.

  • Monitor the results—Risk management is an evolving, continuous process. Once you’ve implemented a risk management solution, you’ll want to monitor its effectiveness and reassess. Remember, COVID-19 risks facing your business can change over time.

If you anticipate reopening for business soon, don’t wait to conduct a risk assessment. Start now so you can show your customers, employees and vendors the proactive steps you’ve taken to minimize or avoid potential risks. For more information, please contact our HR experts at

Is your company reopening for business soon? Assess risks before your employees and customers return.

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