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COVID-19 risk assessments

Despite best available science and data, government policies around lockdown, bailouts, returning to work will have significant unknowns, could lead to unexpected consequences and they must make risk and reward trade-offs.  Whilst these are taking place at the macro level, businesses, schools, churches, charities, and other organisations are dealing with crisis at an unimaginable scale.  We must all make difficult decisions around:

  • keeping staff and customers safe,
  • how to adapt to serve our customers
  • how to stop/continue/re-start operating including shutdowns, customer channels, supply chains and staff
  • cashflow management and financial headroom,
  • redundancies, furloughs and other government support schemes,
  • deciding when and how to re-open,
  • thinking about how the business will cope in the transition period and
  • how to thrive in whatever the future normal will become.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and government advice, the immediate requirement before asking staff to return to work is to conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment to ensure the workplace is safe.  This will involve walking through the day to day activities identifying potential hazards that affect your ability to safely conduct business.  This would specifically look at vulnerable groups and individuals, the ability to maintain social distance, minimising contact to people, high traffic areas or physical surfaces, ensuring safe travel to and from places of work, and where necessary introducing new controls such as reducing number of people in confined spaces, procedures that reduce interaction i.e. staggered shifts or controlling operational flows, signage and handwashing stations or hand sanitizers, sourcing, training and using personal protective equipment (PPE), promoting contactless or digital payments, or where controls are not practical, consideration of re-opening some aspects of the operation while keeping others shut.  The formal recording of these risks is required for all employers of 5 more staff.  Larger operations may find the implementation of new controls and procedures can be complex which could further delay the re-opening schedule.  Ideally, risk assessments and planning should already be started.

Stepping back from the immediate return to work, we know that the world will be very different, whether it be spending and consumer habits, ability and desire to gather, different forms of local travel, much less international travel, more remote working, use of technology, awareness and propensity for cleanliness, unemployment and debt, a much weaker global economy, austerity measures, broader shift towards localisation and away from globalisation, social and mental health challenges, continued trends towards fitness and wellbeing.  What we know for sure is that this watershed moment in history will lead to material and rapid change, offering both risk and opportunity, but realistically more downside risk.

For GOAT, the COVID-19 lockdown has given us the time and opportunity to reflect on our core purpose.  We see risk management as a problem solving tool used to help decision making, tracking the implementation of controls and actions to completion, leveraging data to performance manage key risks ensuring that risk management efforts are not only completed, but effective.  The result is better risk discussions and decision making; more transparency, accountability and collaboration; a stronger and more resilient business; and for the Board, oversight committees and senior leaders the ability to decipher what are the real challenges, gaining confidence that the business is well managed i.e. what true assurance is all about.  COVID-19 has reminded us that all businesses and organisations, for profit or not, big or small must take and manage risk.

GOAT was designed to help non-risk experts better understand, engage with and use risk management, and we strive to help as many organisations as possible to Scale Risk With Confidence.  We are now launching our new Learn About Risk section of the website offering an extensive and growing library of practical free resources from One page fundamentals, to thought leadership and research articles and blogs.  We know most businesses use risk register spreadsheets which simply isn’t fit for purpose since risk management involves interacting with and engaging people.  For the last year, GOAT Risk™ has been deployed in primarily large enterprise clients but we want to open it up to a much wider audience.  We are now offering GOAT Risk™ for a free 30 day trial followed by monthly subscription fees starting from £12/mo.  We all worry about risk, Covid-19 has reminded us we all need to take risk management more seriously.

Check us out at, start your free trial today and Scale Risk With Confidence.

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