At the outset of a time of increased pressure on the farming industry, I wanted to share my views on how to protect vulnerable people in your business from contracting Covid-19, says Oliver Dale, MD at Safety Revolution.
This virus has, within the context of our lifetimes and of contemporary safety law, created an unprecedented situation. The obligations placed upon employers are normally grouped within the legislation under legal, financial and moral headings. However, it would be remiss of me at this time, not to offer advice in relation to an employer’s moral obligations to vulnerable persons in your workplace.
I therefore feel some guidance on protecting vulnerable individuals in relation to the Coronavirus would be useful.
The statistics so far suggest that the most vulnerable group is those aged 70 or older. Mortality rates in the group are running between 8 and 15% of those who become infected. We advise that, for their own good and even where they are determined to work, that where you have employees in this age bracket, you support the isolation process and proactively exclude persons of this age from your work place, be they full time, part time, self-employed or contractor employees.
I would also like to draw attention to the risks to individuals in the age bracket 60-69 who, upon objective assessment, would appear are at significantly greater risk than those under 60. This is particularly the case where they have an underlying health issue or respiratory problems such asthma or Farmers Lung. Given the prevalence of these conditions in the rural community I feel that an employer’s duty extends to undertaking additional measures to ensure that you protect these individuals. There are many ways in which you can do this, but I would advise that you start with the following:
These suggested measures are not exhaustive but are designed to enhance and develop your Risk Assessment processes during this critical period as part of sustaining your wider safety management system.
It is true to say, that none of us know how the virus will develop, or how severe the impact will be or how long that impact will be felt for, but it is entirely conceivable that it will be with us for many months, possibly recurring later in the year.
Safety Revolution was founded in 2003 by an insurance broker and a farmer who were concerned about agriculture’s poor record in health and safety.
Today, under Oliver Dale’s management, Safety Revolution are the UK’s leading specialists in health and safety, human resources and risk reduction for rural businesses.