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chris.packham  
#1 Posted : 29 March 2021 07:04:21(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
chris.packham

Here is something that perhaps the occupational health and safety community might like to debate:

I frequently see comments about creating a ‘’Covid-19 SECURE’ workplace. I have to question whether this is actually possible. Perhaps it helps to compare a risk assessment for SARS-Cov-2 with the well-established practice for risk assessment for a chemical.

With chemicals we will usually know if the particular chemical is present in our working environment. How will we know if the SARS-Cov-2 virus is present in our workplace? One or more persons present might become colonised or even infected at an asymptomatic level. Particularly with colonisation there will be no easily identifiable indication of the presence of the virus. So how will we know that it is present in our working environment, where and at what strength?

With a chemical we usually know when, where, and how we use it and the potential or actual exposure of persons present. SARS-Cov-2 is a respiratory virus so it must reach the respiratory system of a target person in sufficient concentration for there to be a reaction. We can measure chemicals in the air. Can we say the same about the SARS-Cov-2 virus? 

A person may become a carrier of the virus, but this will not be apparent. They may be a spreader (not always the case) or what has been called a super-spreader. How will we know? What measurements are there for measuring airborne SARS-Cov-2 and are these practicable on a day-to-day basis? With the chemical we can probably identify those who may be exposed. Can we do this for SARS-Cov-2?

With SARS-Cov-2 there is also the indirect route through contamination of articles or surfaces within the workplace or articles brought into the workplace that are already contaminated. We also have to consider hand colonisation and subsequent transfer by the hand to the respiratory system. Are there any techniques for measuring hand colonisation, which will not be identified by current test and trace methods?

So whereas with the chemical we can identify whether the level of exposure will be such that the person (or persons) exposed could suffer damage to health and its severity, can we do this for SARS-Cov-2? In addition can we predict the extent and severity of any damage that may result from the infection?

This has implications for the level to which we would normally have to manage exposure. If the risk assessment is problematic and uncertain how will we structure a working environment so that we can say we are adequately controlling something that we can neither see, feel, nor measure and where the hazard may originate outside the workplace and enter this without our being aware of this happening?

So is there actually something that we can genuinely call a ‘Covid-19’ secure workplace?

thanks 1 user thanked chris.packham for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 29/03/2021(UTC)
Brian Hagyard  
#2 Posted : 29 March 2021 07:24:34(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Brian Hagyard

Simple answer NO!

I sopose if we tested everyone as they arrived everyday and isolated them until the result was in we could get close - or if we all wore HAZMAT suits all the time.

As i have said from day 1 all we can do is impliment the govenment advice to slow the transmission down.

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A Kurdziel on 29/03/2021(UTC)
CptBeaky  
#3 Posted : 29 March 2021 09:38:30(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
CptBeaky

I would put it on a par with a "risk free workplace". An admirable goal, but ultimately only possible if we seal up the place and refuse to let people in.

Even testing wouldn't work as the test could be false, or the perosn wasn't infectious enough at the precise time it was taken, but is 15 minutes later. Unless you literally filled the building with bleach each time someone enters and exits the building, and only allow one person at a time, there is no such thing as a COVID secure workplace, only a COVID reduced risk workplace.

It is strange this was the route taken when you consider that one of the first things taught at any risk related H&S course is there is no such thing as risk free. Perhaps if the government weren't so keen to get people into enclosed spaces, then we would have all fared a little better.

thanks 1 user thanked CptBeaky for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 29/03/2021(UTC)
chris.packham  
#4 Posted : 29 March 2021 09:54:35(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
chris.packham

Perhaps also relevant that testing only tests what is in the body, not what might also be on the body, and not just on the hands either. So I contaminate my hands by touching contaminated objects away from site then touch my clothing, briefcase, handbag, etc. I decontaminate my hands with the alcohol sanitiser on entering the premises, but do I also decontaminate the rest of what I am bringing in to the premises?

thanks 2 users thanked chris.packham for this useful post.
CptBeaky on 29/03/2021(UTC), Yossarian on 06/04/2021(UTC)
knotty  
#5 Posted : 29 March 2021 11:22:38(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
knotty

The term "Covid Secure" isn't about being free from risk - it's simply a "password" meaning a workplace can tick a box to say they have conducted a Risk Assessment and followed the goverment guidance document. 

Unfortunately, the hastily produced shorthand term is misleading, but it has served a purpose in enabling industry to get moving again and protect workforces from both Covid and redundancy. 

peter gotch  
#6 Posted : 29 March 2021 14:05:29(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
peter gotch

Chris - it's just one of those slogans that has been played as the authorities don't trust the population to recognise that any level of safety is on a scale of "how safe".

So, instead it's been about a binary choice between "safe" and "unsafe" in far many communications.

This has become even more problematic with the roll out of vaccination.

1. The vaccine does not provide 100% protection for the vaccinated.

2. The vaccinated might still spread the virus and the scientists are still trying to work out how much protection against transmission to others is afforded when someone is vaccinated.

3. Even when effective to say 80 or 90% we haven't a scientific clue as to how long the protection will last.

4. Then there will be all the variants and whether the vaccine protects against those.

etc etc etc!

This is NOT an antivax discourse.

chris.packham  
#7 Posted : 29 March 2021 14:25:59(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
chris.packham

Peter, I fully agree with your comments. Interestingly, if we look at what the WHO found when they reviewed how we managed to eliminate smallpox they commented:  ‘Before 1967, the smallpox eradication strategy relied on mass vaccination. However, this strategy was ineffective in densely populated regions where containment measures proved more effective.’ What concerns me is the rather simplistic 'hands, face, space' approach which suggests that a simple strategy will suddenely produce a situation where we can return to the old 'normal'. Covid-19 is a global problem requiring a global strategy as was the case with smallpox. And resolving that globally took years - with a virus that did not mutate in the way that SARS-Cov-2 is doing.

I am a firm believer in what has been called the 'Swiss cheese' approach. Each slice (intervention) will have holes (shortcomings). However, taken all together the holes may not all line up so we have a closed system. I think we will be living with various restrictions for quite a long time as we learn more about neutralising this type of pandemic.

stevedm  
#8 Posted : 30 March 2021 07:23:30(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

...from my poiunt of view having dealt with this since Oct 2018 and numerous others before that...if SARSCoV-1 and MERS got the same media attention then perhaps people would have been better prepared...can you have an infection free workplace...perhaps ...our staff frontline workers with HCID such as Ebola do have that protection and it is only those who fail to follow the rules that become infected...the focus on SARSCoV-2  has allowed new strains of Avian flu to start appearing and although generally they are or can be contained..it seems we are now 'sensitised' to any mention of infection not for the protection of people but for financial benefit...people who say they want to get back to 'normal' are not learning the lessons from this...I am probably in the minority but I track this and numerous other worldwide infections...but for the protection of staff and workers should we not all be tracking and planning and continuing to mitigate rising threats that rather than saying we are Covid free?  becaus in my view all that will happen then is a variant of this or another virus will just put us back in the same position.

thanks 1 user thanked stevedm for this useful post.
Yossarian on 06/04/2021(UTC)
A Kurdziel  
#9 Posted : 30 March 2021 09:08:49(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

The thing  about the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus is that for most people it is a minor disease and in many asymptomatic. This means that infectious people can go about their  normal lives spreading the disease without realising it.  SARS-CoV-1 and MERS which are coronaviruses like Covid-19 are nastier  diseases and  if you catch them you are more likely to feel ill and stay at home, thus reducing its spread. Ebola is a particularly nasty disease with a morality rate of 70% which means if you have you will know about as everybody else. Further more spread is by only by contact not by coughing or sneezing, so once it is identified it is relatively easy to isolate the areas  where infections are happening. So far smallpox is the only disease that has actually been totally defeated by man. This is because  it is a nasty disease with a high morality rate which means that people are less likely to spread it, it can only be transmitted person to person and there is no animal reservoir, and we were able to develop an extremely effective vaccine against it. The campaign the eradicate smallpox began in the late sixties and was finished by about 1978. After that there were no more cases of natural infection, so the WHO declared the world smallpox free, but it was not possible to declare workplaces smallpox safe as  a technician working at the University of Birmingham became infected with the virus and died. She did not work in the smallpox lab and nobody worked out exactly how the virus escaped.  This lead the adopting of the system of  microbiological containment labs which are used now. All stocks of the small pox virus were then destroyed apart from one set of  virus at the CDC labs in the US and another in Russia.  So we can put up a sign and declare our workplaces smallpox safe but as long as SARS-CoV-2 is circulating in the population we cannot  really declare ourselves covid-safe.

thanks 5 users thanked A Kurdziel for this useful post.
CptBeaky on 30/03/2021(UTC), chris.packham on 30/03/2021(UTC), peter gotch on 30/03/2021(UTC), chris42 on 02/04/2021(UTC), Yossarian on 06/04/2021(UTC)
Kate  
#10 Posted : 02 April 2021 06:22:46(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kate

From what I've just heard on the news, the application of the term "Covid-secure" has been extended from premises to people.  A person is considered "Covid-secure" if, for example, they can prove they have been vaccinated.  

There are so many problems with this concept I don't know where to start, so I won't.

thanks 3 users thanked Kate for this useful post.
Wailes900134 on 02/04/2021(UTC), chris42 on 02/04/2021(UTC), CptBeaky on 06/04/2021(UTC)
John Murray  
#11 Posted : 07 April 2021 07:33:12(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
John Murray

Originally Posted by: A Kurdziel Go to Quoted Post

 SARS-CoV-1 and MERS which are coronaviruses like Covid-19 are nastier  diseases and  if you catch them you are more likely to feel ill and stay at home, thus reducing its spread.

The 2003 version of the 'novel' coronavirus, dubbed SARS-1, had the same antibody response as the 2019 version, a person became infected and the bodies antibody response to that infection followed the same profile and reached its maximum around 15 days after infection......and the specific antibodies lasted from 3 to 15 years after infection. The various vaccines to SARS-CoV-2 are no more effective, or less effective, than a vaccine for influenza is. Figures of 100% effective against death or serious illness are not based upon a population of tens of millions, but on much smaller groups of people. As with other vaccines, the actual real-world figures will vary. Some will be successfully immunised, some will not, and there will be variation between those states. Next years SCV vaccine will be different to this years, and like flu..there will be different formulations for different groups of people.

Don't forget: The very young receive a live-attenuated-virus as a vaccine for flu, but the elderly receive an adjuvanted-inactivated-virus vaccine.

Early days still. When I had SCV2 last year it was like extended flu with a bad headache. Others in my age group fared much worse from the same virus.

stevedm  
#12 Posted : 07 April 2021 08:55:36(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

CoVs refer to a family of single-stranded diverse RNA viruses – spilt generally into alpha, beta, gamma, and delta, among which alpha-coronavirus and beta-coronavirus attract more attention because of their ability to jump from animals to humans.

There are 7 human coronaviruses, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-CoV), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)-CoV, hCoV-HKU1, hCoV-OC43, hCoV-NL63 and hCoV-229E.

The differences in these are that some of the ones you haven’t heard of in the main affect the upper part of the lung whereas SARSCov2 affects the lower part causing more damage.

Two real issues here –

1. The information/ disinformation communication of information generally has been, lets say more to sell papers or votes than to provide public health information…I have lost count of the number of times (just bear in mind I do this for a living) I have had major disagreements because safety managers, directors and in one case a major international company’s Chairman agreed with the Daily Mail rather than the two healthcare professionals sat in front of them!

2. Because of 1. We don’t understand it and we use it as a general excuse for everything…even in healthcare

There have been resurgence of SARS as recent as March 2020...you need to understand the epidemiology and the human response...and manage it like any other potential threat...which is the lesson we are not learning here. 

thanks 2 users thanked stevedm for this useful post.
peter gotch on 07/04/2021(UTC), chris.packham on 07/04/2021(UTC)
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