Coronavirus: guidance from IOSH and the World Health Organization
IOSH is working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) to share latest information and guidance on the coronavirus and how to stay healthy at work.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) affects the lungs and airways. The main symptoms of coronavirus are coughing, a high temperature and shortness of breath.
WHO has declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern, with the most vulnerable including the elderly and people with existing illnesses.
Most documented cases so far (80%) have been mild, though in extreme circumstances the virus has caused deaths.
Health care professionals are on the front line of any outbreak response and, as such, are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection, in this case, with coronavirus. Knowing the risks and taking precautions and preventative measures is a necessity.
WHO has put together important guidance for OSH and healthcare professionals entitled, “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak: rights, roles and responsibilities of health workers, including key considerations for occupational safety and health”. This is available here.
IOSH recently shared guidance on how to protect travelling employees and how organisations can manage risk.
IOSH Vice-President Tim Eldridge shared this expertise during an interview with the BBC News business programme Worklife and BBC World News on 20 February, highlighting how organisations must be open and honest with employees and plan effectively.
Tim said: “It is important organisations support their workers during outbreaks such as coronavirus and do their best to take precautions to prevent exposure.
“Organisations must be prepared and plan effectively. They should also be transparent and explain to employees how they will respond in the event of an outbreak. Good personal hygiene, such as frequent hand-washing, can help to prevent the spread of pathogens such as coronavirus.”
WHO has created an epidemic information-sharing network and is now organising weekly webinars to provide healthcare professional associations and occupational safety and health organisations with the latest updates and guidance around the coronavirus. IOSH is liaising with the WHO to share up-to-date information with members.