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COVID-19 Changing the Way we do Safety?

When COVID started to rear it’s ugly head in early 2020, I started to hear a lot more comments such as- ‘be safe out there’, hope your family is well, are you staying safe?Safety from an occupational health and safety realm was mostly discussed as a topic at work. Sure, you would say to someone going on a trip- safe travels, or be safe when lurking into an unknown part of town. But now with COVID and all of the safety measures that are out there, it seems there is a greater awareness around safety in general. Let me tell you what I have observed as a safety professional. Keep in mind that this is not a general reflection of the state of the world, but is quite localized to the area I work and live in.

  • hand washing: hand washing has been one of the tasks that all sorts of agencies have requested to do to avoid spreading the virus. This awareness and focus on hand washing has, in my opinion, minimized the amount of other sickness such as colds, flus, etc. Do I think hand washing will continue on past Covid-19? To a degree. Once hand washing and sanitizer are not being promoted as heavily, there will be lots of people that will go back to the way they were doing things. However, a lot will continue on with hand washing and using sanitizer- whether it be out of new habits formed, fear or concern, or to maintain their own health and safety.

  • PPE: there has been an increased awareness of what PPE is all about. People are always talking about protecting yourself or using protective gear. I think there is still a general divide between industry knowledge and usage of PPE vs. everyday use by the layperson for COVID reasons. Seeing PPE is more common in everyday life. I went to the airport the other day to deliver some goods there and saw two people in full body protective suits, full face respirator and gloves. I’m not sure exactly what they were doing there, but it didn’t seem like a huge deal. It is common to see masks being worn and even gloves from time to time. At work, when I go out of my office, I catch myself trying to remember all the safety equipment I need to be wearing; safety vest- check, face mask- check.

  • Increase concern (perceived or real- I believe mostly real) towards others about the health and safety of the other person and their circle: I have been on countless phone calls with contractors, salespeople, and friends where one of the first sentences out is Are you well?, how’s your family, everyone OK? COVID free? This extra care and concern for others is at the heart of why I do what I do.

What do you think? How has the pandemic changed your view on safety? What will you stop doing or continue doing once the pandemic is more under control? Let me know!

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