There is a lot of hyperbole and dramatics in the media, both social and professional, with respect to the current pandemic. And while much of this hype comes with appeals to the emotional side of our central processing systems, being mindful and prepared for situations that have displayed a realistic potential of threat is at the foundation of risk management. As people working with and employed by companies whose services are deemed essential it is incumbent upon us to consider possibilities that could adversely affect our operations when that risk is real.
While the current existence of disabling COVID-19 infections is small in Ontario, it should still be viewed as warranting enough seriousness to start some pre-emptive planning for less positive developments in the near future. The 7 degrees of separation is applicable here, and this should inform our approach to what we are doing in the workplace at the moment. A single infected individual, who may be asymptomatic for 5 to 7 days, can be the source of a rapidly growing web of infection in an environment. Below is a quote from Ottawa’s medical officer of health issued on March 15:
Following the first travel-related case detected in Ottawa last week, and with increased access to testing through the out-of-hospital COVID-19 Assessment Centre that opened on Friday, we now have 10 confirmed cases in our City. It is likely that there are more undetected travel-related cases that have gone on to cause local transmission of the virus in Ottawa. These cases are related to travel that occurred in the past when travel restrictions and the Federal Government’s advice for all international travelers to self-isolate for 14 days were not in place. Given the estimate that one case is likely to cause about two more, and the doubling time is 4-5 days, there could now be hundreds to even a thousand cases in the community now.
In your role, you have the responsibility to your staff and your organisation to prepare for a potential infection at work –
From the Business Development Bank of Canada ( and while this is written from the perspective and for manufacturers, as participants in the supply chain we are even more susceptible to infection by the very nature of our movement between endless locations, and necessary for the continuity of supply chain integrity upon which modern civilisation depends):
While some companies have developed contingency plans, most have not. This lack of preparedness not only threatens the viability of sectors in Canada but, as in the case of manufacturing, it also jeopardizes the delivery of critical goods that depend on complex supply chain systems. Creating and maintaining a business continuity plan helps ensure that your business has the resources and information needed to deal with an emergency.
A well designed plan will help you minimize the risk that an emergency poses to your employees, clients and suppliers, the continuity of your business operations and your bottom line.
To plan your business continuity exercise and mitigate the potential effects of an emergency, use the templates (located at the site below):,
I encourage you to review and share these resources as you feel appropriate. Please feel free to contact me if assistance in any aspect of managing your policies, procedures, and responses to this situation.