Occam’s razor has for centuries been the symbol for shaving away all unnecessary complications to arrive at the simplest explanation or way of working. I always try to adopt this principle when proposing prevention measures. And it works. It works if you’re offering simple solutions for often complex and hazardous situations.

That’s why it’s now somewhat frustrating for a prevention adviser or safety manager to note that Covid-19 is affecting the ability to keep things simple.

I understand. We’re being confronted with an unprecedented pandemic, and everyone wants to do their bit to reduce the risk to zero. Aside from the fact that we can never reduce the risk to zero, we often ignore the purely rational medical discourse.

Simplicity? That’s soap and water. Which every one of us has been using to wash our hands since puberty. And it works perfectly. Better than hand gels which often don’t contain enough alcohol, in dirty bottles with contaminated pumps that you have to touch, or which your skin can be sensitive to.

Simplicity? That’s time. A church that’s been locked for two months is perfectly safe. No coronavirus can survive this period of emptiness. Yet still I see in the news that Italy is disinfecting all churches before opening them. Even though bringing in these cleaning teams could be the very act that carries the virus over the threshold.

Simplicity? That’s 1.5 metres. Far away and close by at the same time. And anyone wearing a face mask might have the tendency to not adhere too closely to this 1.5-metre rule.   

I could go on. But what keeps striking me is that we’re all doing our very best to be considerate. That’s the good news. Really it is. Beautiful and moving to see.

What I also notice, however, in our efforts to do our best, is the overwhelming desire to introduce new solutions. As if the simplest – or existing – ways need to be overhauled. And that’s a shame. We have a good habit of using soap and water. So why don’t we just cultivate this further?


110 measures to restart the economy safely