Image: Jérôme Hernandez – Pixabay
The successive waves of the COVID-19 pandemic have made it harder to point to examples of unqualified successes in national responses. Some countries whose early reactions, hygiene strictures or thorough contact-tracing systems were rewarded with lower Coronavirus deaths in spring 2020 have not fared as well once their initial controls were relaxed or as new variants spread.
The differing impact of the waves will be compounded by factors such as the speed of vaccination so that nations are likely to follow what used to be referred to in European Union as “variable geometry” in emerging from the pandemic, putting the worst of the virus outbreak behind them at different times.
But there is a consensus that whenever they relax the most severe pandemic controls, the higher-wage economies will see changes as a result of the crisis; there won’t be a simple bounce-back to life before COVID hit. Some creeping changes already underway – the shift from high-street branches to e-commerce in the retail sector, have been put into fast forward by the spells of enforced closure of non-essential stores and confinement of whole populations to their homes. In other cases, such as entertainment – concerts, plays and festivals – or restaurants, the shift to home-based alternatives seems less likely to be permanent. In the past 12 months, many more people felt the privations of not being able to eat out or see a public performance than longed for the chance to buy their clothes in the high street.
But if some effects of the past 12 months turn out to be structural and some just temporary, they share the same effect; a lot of revenue-starved businesses will be forced to close. Though some sectors will return to health as the restrictions ease and new jobs will be created in sectors, such as logistics that may enjoy a permanent uplift, there will be a period of upheaval and a lot of people will find themselves out of work through no fault of their own.
This effect was widely predicted once it became clear that the pandemic controls were going to extend beyond a few months. It was something we had in mind when we set up the One Percent Safer foundation. One of our aims as an organisation was to support health and safety professionals who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
Using the fund generated by sales of the One Percent Safer book and from the proceeds of our Live & Direct virtual conference on 28 April – there are still tickets available here for what promises to be this year’s best safety and health conference – we are able to offer grants to practitioners who need support in retraining or maintaining professional memberships during a period of hardship while the national economies find their news levels. If you are in this position, or you know someone who is, you can download the confidential short application form.
The foundation also offers grants for projects to further its other main aim: to reduce the global work accident and ill health toll by one percent a year. We can provide seed capital to other voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises for initiatives to improve safety and health standards in workplaces or the community.
As we emerge from the sometimes overwhelming distraction of keeping ourselves and others safe during the pandemic, if you could benefit from our help, get in touch.