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Change Amid the COVID Crisis – Increased Role of Risk Management and Health & Safety As We Move Forward

May 25, 2020

By: Susie Besler 


As we reflect on the past eight weeks of the COVID crisis in Alberta, the one constant we continue to experience is change.


To maintain business continuity while ensuring the safety of employees, organizations have had to quickly pivot their strategies and business models, reallocate their budgets and mobilize their workforces to a virtual environment.


While the first phase of crisis management is behind us, the virus and its effects are far from over. The Government’s recent announcements around the multi-staged relaunch of our provincial economy has resulted in further change and confusion on how businesses should proceed. The return to business as usual won’t be business as usual; organizations must be able to readily adapt to these new realities to position themselves for survival, let alone growth.


At Pekarsky & Co., we are in touch with several leading Health and Safety experts as we prepare for the inevitable spike in clients requests for leading experts in this field. Health & Safety is anticipated to play an even more critical role across all industry sectors, regardless of products sold or services rendered, as organizations cautiously transition back to the workplace and begin planning for the future. Compliance with public health directives and changes in occupational Health & Safety regulations and legislation will be essential for building the trust and confidence from employees, customers and other stakeholders. Organizational Health & Safety policies will need to be closely examined, evaluated and continuously reviewed to ensure engineering and administrative controls and processes, including PPE, are effective in reducing the risk of exposure in the workplace and protecting the physical and mental health of employees.


Which organization wants to be front page news for having the next big COVID outbreak?  Not yours, I trust.


As organizations work towards building a path to recovery, emerging strategic, compliance, financial, operational and reputational risks resulting from this pandemic must be identified, assessed and mitigated. Enterprise Risk Management, which widely developed during the disastrous events of 9/11 and the global financial crisis of 2008, is expected to take a front seat during this transition to new normal as well.  The integration of modelling and scenario analysis practices will be crucial for sound business decision making going forward. A strong Health & Safety and risk culture will be paramount to business success and credibility in the coming months and years, not as an aspirational ceiling but as table stakes; the ground floor of expected corporate behaviour.


Over the next phases of relaunch to recovery, organizational risks and operational strategies will continue to shift and so, too, must organizational leadership. Risk Management and Health & Safety professionals will hold a seat at the executive table and contribute their knowledge and expertise in building stronger, more resilient organizations able to withstand this current pandemic and be better prepared for catastrophic global events of the future.


Is your organization ready for this next step towards recovery?