‘Stay Alert’ is the new slogan
If the ‘Stay Alert’ message has a shortcoming, it is its vagueness, but compared with ‘Stay at Home’ almost anything is vague. However, for employers and employees who are preparing for a return to work, there are many risks. We need to be alert to these and think how to manage them. In a changed situation you will need a new Risk Assessment, formal or informal.
What risks must we stay alert to?
The overall risk is that of spreading or catching Coronavirus. When assessing the risk, bear in mind that you need to think of the risk to others, who include colleagues and clients and even the general public. If you pass it on, or cause someone else to do so, the risk is to those to whom you pass it. Even if you and your immediate co-workers are low-risk, due to your youth and health, you or they could pass it on to an older or more vulnerable person.
How to stay alert?
Start by thinking of the usual Health and Safety questions.
- Access: can you provide parking or safe storage for bikes?
- Premises: are there separate entrances and exits? Can people work in separate rooms? Are there protective screens?
- Systems of work: can people keep safely apart? Can they avoid direct contact?
- Tools and equipment: avoid sharing.
- Protective clothing and equipment: do you provide it? And enforce its use?
- Money: if some people need to go part-time or come to work occasionally, look at the furlough arrangements and minimise the impact on their finances.
Remember too that there are risks to people’s mental health through staying in Lockdown as well as from working in an environment where they don’t feel safe or where management don’t seem concerned about safety. See my post on Mental Health Week.
For more on Risk Management generally, see my book Load the Dice.
Stay alert to the big picture!
However hard it is to work in this new environment, please give it your best shot. Don’t be sloppy and spread the disease, as the effects could be serious for the whole country if it spikes again. BUT don’t give up, as we need to get the economy working somehow. Be creative! Change how you work. Perhaps you should change what you do. Stay alert to new possibilities.