In civilised society we try to eliminate risk.

This applies to all areas of living - social, environmental and in the work place.

Two additional factors are crucial to risk management at work. Employees must be made aware of any potential risk associated with what they are doing and there must be training in appropriate safety protocols. This reduces risk to an acceptable level and ensures that workers are full aware of any potential for harm. However, if an external event intervenes to increase individual risk how does this affect contractual obligations and responsibilities?

As the pandemic continues its relentless progress and while we wait for mass vaccination the Government has once more turned to lockdown as an interim means of reducing viral transmission, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

For many of us self isolation, though unpleasant and depressing, is relatively easy to maintain but some professions will require their members to continue working with consequent ongoing exposure to infection.

Health workers are an obvious example being at the frontline of managing seriously ill people but there are others whose work also requires close interaction with the community, the police force and teaching profession being prime examples. Many people drawn to community based work feel a sense of vocation. In vocational work, motivation to ‘do the job in hand’ often trumps considerations of safety.

It cannot be right to accept vocational willingness to set aside personal risk without attempting to find additional protection for such people.

For all of us, there is the prospect and promise of vaccination as eventually the way out of the pandemic. At the moment the cascaded roll out of vaccination is focused on the relative risk of severe illness.

Surely work related exposure risk through unavoidable faceto-face interactions should also be considered. The police must ensure that lockdown is being observed and may be called upon to break up illegal parties and gatherings; this may involve close person to person contact.

Many of our schools remain open for vulnerable children and those of key workers. Teachers are at particular risk also. No matter how carefully classroom hygiene is practiced, the children provide an outside/inside interface through which the virus can enter. Vaccinating teachers will make the classroom safer.

All those who must continue face to face interactions with often varying groups of people - these should be offered vaccination now and regular Covid testing should be available to then too.

Of course wholesale vaccination must be the aim but this will take time but it is vital that an effective order of priorities is put in place, priorities that take infection risk as well as physical vulnerability into consideration, otherwise lives may be needlessly lost.


Chalmington, Dorchester