COVID-19 workplace clusters
This article by Tina Weadick is reproduced courtesy of Health & Safety Review
Inadequate or incorrect government guidance, poor working practices, and weak enforcement of rules by the health and safety regulator are the main factors behind the spread of Covid-19 in UK workplaces, a leading academic has suggested.
Chair in health effectiveness at the University of Stirling, Professor Andrew Watterson, writing in The Conversation, an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, said there is “little investigation into or publicly available data” on what exactly is causing workplace clusters and how the situation can be put right.
Pointing out that investigations of workplace clusters in Britain are led by public-health staff and not the Health and Safety Executive, Prof Watterson said: “This could mean some investigators lack the powers and possibly the knowledge and skills to enforce measures to stop the spread of the virus. The HSE has powers to close a workplace hazardous to health, while local authority inspectors have the power to shut workplaces on environmental health grounds. Directors of public health do not have such powers.”
He also bemoans the failure to release details on working conditions in British meat plants with Covid-19 clusters, saying the lack of information and transparency “is proving a major handicap to speedy prevention”.
He concludes by saying workplaces can be made Covid-safe “by applying the science available, adopting best practice in occupational health and safety, and resolving organisational and policy conflicts and confusion”.
In the week ending 19 November, 233 new incidents of acute respiratory infection were reported in UK workplace settings – behind care homes (511 incidents) and educational settings (339 incidents). This was, however, the fifth week in a row that the number of workplace incidents reported had dropped. The full article is available at: https://bit.ly/2JcU4Uu
Article by TINA WEADICK
An example of workplace outbreaks in the Repulic of Ireland.
Inspections and workplace outbreaks
Since the Return to Work Safely Protocol came in to force in May the HSA has carried out 5,164 Covid-19 inspections. Up to the end of November other agencies carrying out Covid-19 inspections carried out 16,488. By the end of 2020 over 22,000 Covid-19 inspections had been carried out.
The weekly epidemiology figures published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) for the week ending December 28th 2020 record 88.439 confirmed Covid-19 cases, of which 13,316 were cases in healthcare workers. There were 344 outbreaks/clusters in workplaces. A report from the HSPC giving more details on workplace outbreak/clusters records that up to December 26th there were 293 outbreaks. Cases were recorded in 76 commercial premises, 51 construction sites, 41 office-based workplaces, 35 meat/poultry plants, 30 in manufacturing, 21 other food/beverage plants, 17 in defence forces, justice and emergency services and 22 in other workplaces.
Extra from HPSC report
This article is reproduced courtesy of Health & Safety Review.
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