Society of Occupational Medicine recommends that PHE and HSE review their risk assessment for health and social care workers to ensure controls are adequate.
The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) is calling for Public Health England, the Health and Safety Executive and devolved administrations to review risk assessments for all health and social care workers where occupational exposure is possible and implement appropriate measures taking account of increased transmissibility and new understanding about aerosol transmission given the new COVID-19 mutation. This risk assessment should consider the current PPE guidelines in conjunction with adequate ventilation and other occupational health controls to test if they need to be further strengthened.
SOM fully supports and endorses the open letter signed by over 1000 clinicians and the urgent need for improved PPE and ventilation, in the context of wider control measures and the hierarchy of control. SOM notes that:
- Research has highlighted how it is possible for the virus to be increasingly carried in what are called aerosols - drifting and accumulating in the air.
- Research states that health care workers relative to non-essential workers have a 7 fold increased risk of severe COVID-19 or death with “a need for revised national and organisational policies and practices that protect and support workers with an elevated risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
SOM has approached PHE and also HSE and the devolved administrations to ask whether existing risk assessment and controls are adequate.