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Protecting People During Covid-19

Protecting People During Covid-19

The big challenge is to keep people safe, while continuing social and economic life as much as possible.

So, the real challenge for businesses is:

  • How to keep people safe, while continuing operations?
  • or How to continue operations, while keeping people safe?


To mitigate the immediate impact of a crisis like Covid-19, one of the major objectives and challenges is to keep people safe. 

This is one of the 3 main sections from the "Ultimate Guide for Phase 1 - Rapid Response to Mitigate the Immediate Impact of Covid"



Regarding Protecting People:

Risks to address

  • Infecting individuals in your organisation or your clients’ organisation
  • Infecting the public, for example when traveling
  • Fatigue of team members, caused by extra workload and stress
  • Critical capacity dropping out because of infection, other illnesses or burnouts


  • Minimal amount of infections
  • Team members that persevere
  • Everyone taking social responsibility

Main aspects

  • Protection
  • Protocols
  • Condition
  • Distancing
  • Remote
  • 2nd order effect


There are circumstances in which team members will have to go to the office, have to go to clients and have to travel. When travelling, they may be in less controlled environments like public transportation, hotels, airports, airplanes and clients’ sites. They will have higher risks of being exposed to infections.

To minimise these risks, they need adequate personal protection, like:

  • Gloves
  • Masks
  • Facial protection
  • Hand-sanitisers
  • Protective cloths
  • Vaccination, which is not available yet for COVID-19 (April 2020)

It is important to follow the latest guidelines and instructions of trusted (international) authorities like WHO, national health authorities and national and local governments.

Keep in mind that some team members may be more vulnerable to the virus than others. This may require differentiation in your approach regarding protective gear and work assignments for different levels of potential exposure.


Safety and protection are not only a matter of protective gear. The protective gear must be used in the right way too. Another aspect is the safe behaviour of team members and other individuals your team members interact with, like staff of clients, logistic providers or contractors.

Before sending a team member to a clients’ site, check with the client:

  • The (local) safety protocols and regulations

  • If there are any health issues with any of their staff

  • Any risks for vulnerable staff

  • Your protocols and safety precautions

  • How work can be prepared remotely to make the visit on site as short as possible

The best way to achieve that is to:

  • Define clear and succinct protocols and instructions on critical behaviours
  • Include scripts and procedures for the preparation of any visit to clients or from external staff
  • Capture the situation at client site
  • Create easy to use instructions and infographics
  • Distribute them amongst all team members
  • Share them with any external people before any interaction
  • Define and follow a protocol to safely escalate any deviations and incidents and to take immediate action if these occur, by anyone in the organisation
  • Create a “habit” of correcting each other when needed


The COVID-19 crisis is going to last a long time and will be demanding a lot from many people in your organisation.

The risk is that people will:

  • Take less care of their fitness and condition

  • Become more vulnerable for other safety risks

  • Reduce their immunity for any decease

To avoid this, everyone should ensure they:

  • Sleep enough, regardless of the workload
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise


For the time being, we need to minimise the number of face-2-face interactions. In case these are unavoidable, keep a distance from each other as much as possible. The following practices are being applied:

  • Work from home when possible

  • Separate teams that need to work in the office or factory, into 2 or more fixed teams and only allow 1 team at a time in the office or factory. Avoid any interaction between the different teams to avoid infection of other teams if one team member is infected

  • Distribute workplaces as much as possible to keep the allowable distance

  • Separate workspaces with fences or screens

  • Route any human traffic of staff, clients or staff of other companies via screens, fences, arrows or signs

  • In more crowded places, have “traffic officers” monitor the behaviour of the crowd and intervene if necessary


Push interactions between people (colleagues, clients and others) to remote, virtual or online channels. For example:

  • Support your clients via the phone or other, more advanced remote capabilities
  • Have meetings online, using any video-conferencing platform
  • Organise webinars to communicate with groups of clients or team members
  • Use an online training platform to train team members, for which you may have an increasing demand in a crisis

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2nd Order Effect

Too often we see that an intervention has undesirable (side) effects, making the intervention useless or even counterproductive. Some examples are:

  • An increase of the number of people at the office because of a prohibition to travel

  • More crowed trains, because of the reduction of trains on the tracks

  • Higher risks in the factory because critical staff is now working remotely and therefor makes mistakes

  • Accidents at clients’ locations because untrained people are taking over tasks of trained service engineers

This should be avoided by:

  • Thinking potential effects through before executing a measure
  • Communicating the goals and guiding principles along with the measures, so people can escalate undesirable side effects and allow rapid correction
  • If possible, stress-test scenario’s and measures beforehand, even before they are needed


Download the full Guide for Phase 1 - Rapid Response



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