Covid-19 Applying the Principles of Prevention (Part 1)
28 October 2020
Applying the Principles to the controlling the spread of Covid-19 (Part 1 – Principle 1-4)
1. Avoid the risk: -If you can get rid of the hazard then people are not exposed to the risks. You should apply this principle first. With regards to Covid-19 it is virtually impossible to “get rid” of the hazard without there being a large scale, global vaccination and public health program. It took over 100 years to get rid of smallpox and the motivation to eliminate that disease was much higher…
We cannot avoid the risk when it comes to Covid-19.
2. Evaluate unavoidable risks -: This requires you to undertake risk assessments. If you can’t get rid of a hazard, you must assess it. This is where we need to apply logic and common sense and determine the level of risk presented by the hazard. A risk assessment is done by calculating the chances of something bad occurring multiplied by the level of harm that may be caused.
In simplest terms Risk = Likelihood x Consequence
How likely is it that someone is going to catch Covid-19 at an event of 5, 50 or 500 people or at a location that is frequented by larger numbers of people? Increasing likely depending on the increasing numbers of people and possibly their attitudes towards personal hygiene.
What is the consequence? Covid-19 has been proven to be fatal. There are a range of consequences depending on individual and community vulnerability factors.
In summary. The more people we encounter, the higher the risk.
3. Combat the risks at source: – Here you are trying to deal with the hazard at its root.
The source of this particular hazard has been identified as coming from Wuhan, China. It’s gone beyond being able to combat the risk at source so what can we do? In order to combat the risk at course locally we have to do our best to identify positive cases or individuals who may be infectious.
In theory, if an infectious person is prevented from coming in contact with your workforce or your community you have combated the risk at source and prevented the hazard coming in contact with the people you are trying to protect.
Visitor and worker screening go some of the way towards combating the risk at source but’s not an airtight solution.
4. Adapt the work to the individual-: This is the principle of arranging the workplace and tasks to take into account your employees and to reduce the effect of work on health.
Not everyone can work from home but where it has proven to be practical, this measure has been adopted by many workplaces.
(Principles 5-9 will be covered in Part 2)