You cannot balance risk if you don’t understand the consequences

Vicki Filson

Vicki Filby-Filson
Senior Consultant, Assurity Consulting
10th September 2020

High profile incidents also re-focus our perception of risk. The difficult thing with Coronavirus is that we cannot see it, many of us don’t directly know anyone who has been affected and the health impact is not currently the leading headline in every news bulletin (although this is changing by the day).

As businesses continue their gradual return to the workplace, we are getting more questions about face to face meetings. People are struggling with what is mandatory, then if not mandatory, why it is important. It is a misunderstanding that health and safety legislation is a list of black and white rules, managing the risk of COVID-19 and making your workplace COVID Secure is no different. Ultimately, businesses have a responsibility to identify risk and control it utilising the information available to them.

The mood changes by the day whether we should be returning to normal or remaining cautious over the coming months. Therefore, if stakeholders don’t have an appreciation of the consequences of catching or spreading the virus, they may be able to better relate to the impact on their lives of self-isolation. Everyone is familiar with ‘track and trace’, but do they really understand what that means to them in the workplace if a colleague tests positive?

The NHS track and trace information explains the circumstances where you are required to self-isolate for 14 days;

‘A close ‘contact’ is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 anytime from 2 days before the person was symptomatic up to 7 days from onset of symptoms (this is when they are infectious to others). This could be a person who;

  • spends significant time in the same household;
  • is a sexual partner;
  • has had face-to-face contact (within one metre), including:
    • being coughed on
    • having skin-to-skin physical contact, or
    • contact within one metre for one minute
  • has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes and/or;
  • has travelled in a small vehicle, or in a large vehicle or plane.

Where an interaction between 2 people has taken place through a Perspex (or equivalent) screen, this would not be considered sufficient contact, provided that there has been no other contact such as any of those indicated above.’

We know that meeting multiple people is much nicer than online conferencing. However, for me, having the ability to go out and about (for work, exercise and social purposes) is currently significantly more important and we have to compromise. 

The above might help with those difficult decisions where achieving 2 metre distancing isn’t possible. Yes, you can have meetings, but you have to be aware of the consequences.