Politics

These are the dangers of catching Covid at work

James, a HuffPost UK reader, asked, “How safe is it to go to work?”

According to (rather unsurprisingly) results from the latest Covid-19 infection survey, you are more likely to get Covid if you go to a physical job than if you work from home.

We know that the virus is most likely to spread through close contact interactions with infected people.

When everyone in your household works from home, you drastically limit interactions with infected people. However, if you go to different workplaces every day, the risk understandably increases: the network of people you come in contact with expands, you spend long periods of time indoors with them and in many cases you don’t necessarily wear masks or 2 meters apart keep away.

Submit a Coronavirus Health question to HuffPost UK.

According to an analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) carried out between October 2020 and April 2021, the more difficult it is for people to maintain social distance in the workplace, the more difficult it is to test positive for Covid-19. Meanwhile, regardless of type of travel, people who traveled to work were more likely to be positive than those who worked from home.

A November 2020 survey found that more than a third of UK workers were concerned about catching Covid at work, despite companies taking steps to protect people. The survey conducted by the Resolution Foundation’s think tank found that nearly half (47%) of employees rated the risk of transmission at work as “fair” or “very high,” the Independent reported.

Unfortunately, since workplaces are so different in layout and organization, it’s not easy to quantify the risk of the virus being caught at work – and it’s also hard to tell where people got the virus from (for example, would they have intercept it on the way to work, in the supermarket or with drinks after work).

However, there are a few factors that you should consider when considering your safety in a physical work area.

1. How many people have Covid in your area?

This is very important because if the infection rates in your city are low, you are pretty unlikely to catch Covid-19 at work – although that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. You can find cases in your country, region and municipality on the UK government website.

2. Do you work inside or outside?

If you work outdoors, the risk of catching Covid is very small. In indoor work areas, this risk increases significantly as people routinely breathe each other’s air, which can carry potentially infected particles. While people should self-isolate and shouldn’t go to work when they feel sick, we know that one in three people with Covid has no symptoms at all.

3. How well ventilated is your workplace?

Fresh air helps dilute the virus in rooms where people work. Therefore, it’s pretty important to have adequate ventilation throughout the day – be it by opening doors, windows and vents, or by mechanical ventilation like fans and air conditioning, or a combination of both.

The researchers suspect that Covid is most likely to be transmitted through inhalation between people at close range, rather than through surface contact or longer-range flight routes – although they find these routes may also be responsible, but less frequently. Good ventilation reduces the risk of inhaling large amounts of viruses that would otherwise build up in a room without airflow.

4. How many people do you work with directly?

The more people you work, the higher the risk of getting Covid as you are basically exposed to the germs of more people. Ideally, people should be in work environments indoors and not be crowded in small spaces.

Working indoors, working in close proximity, poor ventilation, and environments that are relatively cold (e.g. food processing plants) seem to allow greater transmission of the virus and can lead to what is known as super-spread.

5. Can you distance yourself socially?

When working, aim to sit or work 2 meters away from others. In some cases where this is not possible, you can work at a distance of 1 meter according to government instructions. However, it is your employer’s responsibility to ensure that the risk is mitigated.

This could mean encouraging more frequent hand washing and cleaning of surfaces, keeping the time employees spend together as short as possible, installing screens or barriers and not face-to-face but back-to-back or side-to-side Work side. and reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using “fixed teams or partnerships” – which means that each person only works with a few other people.

6. Do you and your employees wear masks?

Masks are not required in the workplace in England, but in Scotland and Wales they should be worn in any common area at work (such as the reception). In Scotland, masks should also be worn where no measures have been taken to separate people with a screen or a distance of at least 2 meters.

Experts note that masks can have a huge impact on indoor transmission. If your employees don’t wear masks, you can still wear one to protect others and, to some extent, yourself.

In general, experts agree that surgical masks are more protective than fabric face coverings – and studies have shown it.

7. How often is your workplace cleaned?

Fomite transmission – the ability to detect the virus by touching infected objects or surfaces and then touching your nose or mouth – is considered less risky than we initially thought.

However, surfaces and objects at workplaces should be cleaned regularly – think of light switches, door handles, kettles, printers, etc.

It goes without saying that you should wash or disinfect your hands regularly, especially after using the toilet and before eating.

8. Who is vaccinated?

The more people vaccinated, the lower the risk of contracting the virus while working. While we still don’t know exactly how far the vaccine will prevent people who are vaccinated from spreading the virus, the data points in the right direction.

Pre-print studies and initial data suggest that the Oxford / AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer / BioNTech pushes appear to have reduced the spread of the virus to some extent.

Experts are still learning about Covid-19. The information in this story was known or available at the time of publication, but the guidelines could change as scientists learn more about the virus. Visit gov.uk/coronavirus and nhs.uk to stay updated on health advice and cases in your area.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button