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Mark Flynn  
#1 Posted : 13 June 2022 11:36:48(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Mark Flynn

Hi All,

Now that things are returning to 'normal' post-COVID, we need to develop a general infectious disease management policy and outbreak guidance for our teams.  May I ask if that is something H&S professionals should create or should we be seeking input from an infection control specialist?

Many thanks

Mark

hopeful  
#2 Posted : 13 June 2022 12:08:45(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
hopeful

It would really depend on your industry and what diseases you are thinking about. I believe this is as much an HR issue as H&S as it is as much telling people not to come in to work if they are ill. And then provide sanitising wipes etc.

Obviously if you believe you are more at risk of certain diseases you may require specialist advice and support. In our care homes we rely on specialist knowledge within the team but we dont really do anything for the general offices.

thanks 1 user thanked hopeful for this useful post.
peterhosie on 24/06/2022(UTC)
A Kurdziel  
#3 Posted : 13 June 2022 12:30:24(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

As Hopeful says why exactly do you need such a policy? If  you are working with vulnerable people for example in a care home or clinical setting, then yes, such a policy makes sense but for a general employer what would you? What controls would you adopt taking into account that people have lives outside work  and that is where they will acquire the infections and as an employer you will have no control over people becoming infected.  

Remember most infections are self-limiting and  do not pose a risk to healthy adults.  If there is a serious outbreak of a specific disease then that is a Public Health matter, and the authorities will tell employers what they must do.

For most employers what you need to tell staff ( and managers) that presenteeism is no longer a sign of virtue (despite what Elon Musk says) and if people feel ill, they should stay away from the workplace. That is more of a HR issue rather than a H&S matter.  

thanks 1 user thanked A Kurdziel for this useful post.
peterhosie on 24/06/2022(UTC)
Brian Hagyard  
#4 Posted : 13 June 2022 12:41:30(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Brian Hagyard

With my collegues on this one, unless you work in a lab, health care sector or are goverened by Ofstead or CQC (that have required these for a long time) i hope we are not forced to do this for general community infections - that was always my worry with the Covid not being dealt with as a public health risk.

achrn  
#5 Posted : 13 June 2022 12:58:10(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
achrn

Our Covid RA has transmogrified into an infectious diseases section of the staff instructions.

Originally Posted by: A Kurdziel Go to Quoted Post

What controls would you adopt taking into account that people have lives outside work  and that is where they will acquire the infections and as an employer you will have no control over people becoming infected.  

An instruction to staff to work at home if they beleive they have an infectious disease, so as not to share it with their workmates.

We don't expect that this will make our workforce disease-free, but I can see it reducing spread of disease and in particular giving us an inferction profile that more closely mirrors population averages, rather than have a super-spreader 'bravely' 'soldier on' into the office and take out half the floor the following week.

I don't see a 'need' for a "infectious disease management policy and outbreak guidance", but having established the mechanisms for people to work from home, and normalised some positive behaviours, I think it will be beneficial to hold on to some of that.

Quote:

For most employers what you need to tell staff ( and managers) that presenteeism is no longer a sign of virtue (despite what Elon Musk says) and if people feel ill, they should stay away from the workplace. That is more of a HR issue rather than a H&S matter.  

That doesn't make it something that H&S can't asssist with.

From teh Covid words, we have retained: stay away if you're sick, hand sanitiser and surface wipes in communal areas and high-touch items (photocopiers), general words about ventilation is good, a 'cleaning protocol' for hot desks, and a general exhortation to be aware of health and safety implications of your actiosn and bring concerns to the attention of management.

thanks 3 users thanked achrn for this useful post.
CptBeaky on 13/06/2022(UTC), peter gotch on 13/06/2022(UTC), Kate on 13/06/2022(UTC)
Mark Flynn  
#6 Posted : 15 June 2022 10:38:40(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Mark Flynn

Thank you to everyone who has replied.

I work for a council that has a range of diverse services that includes care homes, schools, refuse collectors, pest controllers, hostels, and office staff, so our infection risks vary.

We recognise that our infection control guidance/standards need to be revised but do not know if that is within the remit of a H&S officer to produce - hence asking what others may do.

Apologies for not recognising that not everyone has similar hazards

Mark

Brian Hagyard  
#7 Posted : 15 June 2022 12:16:39(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Brian Hagyard

Originally Posted by: Mark Flynn Go to Quoted Post

Thank you to everyone who has replied.

We recognise that our infection control guidance/standards need to be revised but do not know if that is within the remit of a H&S officer to produce - hence asking what others may do.


Mark who does it is down to your employer - As an LA you may have Occupational Health Nurses, Environmental Health Officers and Infection Control Nurses - as well as links to the Public Health team. They will all have skills that can be brought to the policy - but who produces it will depend on your personal details - no reason why H&S cannot do it or be involved in it.

A Kurdziel  
#8 Posted : 15 June 2022 12:17:29(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

Hi Mark

Yes, as I and (Others)  have said you are only legal responsible  for the infection risks which arise out of your work activities. Unfortunately the HSE decided to lump in biologically risks with  chemical risks in COSHH. They almost immediately  regretted this decision but not been able to disentangle infection risks from COSHH, for various reasons.  

If you look at the COSHH ACoP it makes clear the distinction between work based risks and incidental infections.

Limiting the spread of infections in the work place such as food poisoning or respiratory diseases is more ( in my opinion) a matter for HR since it is about allowing people to take time off if they are sick and in particular not rushing back to work when they might be feeling better but still be infectious.

stevedm  
#9 Posted : 17 June 2022 08:37:30(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

All of what has been said it true...however this is about business continuity not necessarily COSHH..

we have had for a number of years an alert system based on the global infection rates and CDC risk assessments for High Consequence Infections Diseases...

thanks 2 users thanked stevedm for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 17/06/2022(UTC), peter gotch on 17/06/2022(UTC)
adriankennedy-jones  
#10 Posted : 20 June 2022 15:20:17(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
adriankennedy-jones

We added originally COVID-19 to the arrangements section of our policy with the rationale that if it needed a risk assessment it should probably be on the policy.... it was very light touch, follow goverment guidelines etc. Since we're not specifically risk assessing it anymore I was minded to remove it, but our leadership wants it to stay in, so today I spent 10 minutes removing the word COVID-19 and changing to a non specfic public health illness with the same light touch.

Edited by user 20 June 2022 15:21:51(UTC)  | Reason: rewording

stevedm  
#11 Posted : 22 June 2022 17:34:28(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

thought I might follow up with a live example...monkeypox...like I said before this is business continuity planning...

Our IHCD alert status runs 1-5, 5 = lockdown.

Mokeypox UK sites - Level 2 = strict hygiene rules & social distancing for those classified as High or VHigh vulnerable, contact tracing

MonkeyPox - Spain/ Portugal Sites - Level 3 = enhanced contact tracing, communication/hygiene rules continue, High/VHigh vulnerable prepare for shielding/ hoem working where available.

Isn't perfect by a long way but it has been working since 2018 when we first encountered COVID near our teams in China.

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