Health & Safety and Assessing Covid19 Risk

Posted on July 10, 2020

For those of you who don’t know, I supply management and contract staff in the commercial M&E (Mechanical & Electrical) industry. At a guess, I reckon I have had the inconvenience of having around fifteen projects cancelled delayed in my 23 years in this industry.

These have either been because of fears of structural damage, or a suspicion that there may be signs of asbestos on the site. It is a pain in the arse because what happens is, I get a Friday phone call informing me of the news. I must then cancel or delay the people I have set up to do the work.

It can be more infuriating when the fears are found to be without substance and a month later, I must go through the whole recruiting process once again. However, despite the upheaval, once the impulsive annoyance subsides into practical logic, if you are in this kind of business, you take it on the chin.

This is because most of us would rather lose out on work than compromise the safety of working men. No one with a conscience wants to be part of a job where workers end up under a pile of rubble or with an aggressive and terminal lung disease that will kill them. Health & Safety in construction is rigid, with the idea being that if there is any element of risk, work stops.

Care Industry Health & Safety

I am using this example because I know how it works in construction but not in the care industry and health & safety procedures regarding the elderly. What I do know, because it is there in black and white on government websites, is that scientists were investigating asymptomatic transmission of Covid19 in January this year.

What I also know is that hospitals were sending thousands of untested elderly people back into care home until the 16th April. When the care homes were having these poor old folks foisted upon them, they had no way of knowing whether the patients had Covid19 or not. The result was catastrophic, with one in twenty people in homes dying.   

Boris Johnson claims that during this period, no one was aware of asymptomatic transmission. He is lying. Even if there was no concrete evidence to suggest asymptomatic transmission, the likelihood of it was being investigated by scientists in January. As I said earlier, it was there in black and white.


The reason that I used construction as an example is because of the assessment risk. These are known as RAMS (Risk Assessments and Method Statements). When these are completed and risk to human life is apparent, everything stops. With Covid19 in elderly patients, there was a risk, and someone decided to take a flier on it in the hope they would get lucky.

Result?  A fucking disaster. Not only that, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, rather than demanding answers from those involved in decision making, has blamed the care homes for not implementing guidelines. I have seen some low points in this crisis but this one should be defining.

I am going to go back to the construction industry one more time. If someone undertaking the RAMS on a building site ignored a potential risk and people got injured or died, it would be a case of ‘shit meet fan’. Unless it was a construction company with MP’s on the board of directors, huge fines and prison sentences would be the order of the day.

It is right that construction companies should be accountable for health and safety and face the consequences for neglecting good working practice. What isn’t right, is a government that can oversee a health disaster and simply pass the buck onto others.

Thousands of untested old people were sent back to care homes with Covid19 and catastrophe unfolded. It is as simple as that. If you are taken in by the government saying it wasn’t their cock up, you need to take some time out and have a good look in the mirror and give your head a few good wobbles.

You have been lied to.

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