5.21 Occupational Safety

Employers have a duty of care to their staff. This is enshrined in health and safety legislation as is the requirement to undertake a risk assessment and then to mitigate any risks as low as reasonably practicable.

Section 1.10 of the NIPCM details occupational safety as per SICPs.

 

Care Home Settings

Care homes should refer to the Care Home IPCM for older people and adult care homes for more general information on occupational safety in this setting.

 

PPE is provided for occupational safety and should be worn as per Tables 7 and 8.

Staff testing negative for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR who remain symptomatic of another respiratory virus should consider the risk to service users particularly if they are immunosuppressed or otherwise medically vulnerable before returning to work.  Once medically fit to return to work, if staff are in doubt about any risk they may pose to service users or colleagues, this should be discussed with their line manager in the first instance.

Decisions to deploy any staff members into areas of higher infection risk must take into account many factors. These include the nature of the biologic agent, the general risks, and the specific risks to each individual member of staff. The individual risk assessment may need to take account of age, gender, underlying health conditions, race and vaccine status amongst other factors. Occupational health expertise should be sought regarding both the overall process and for individuals deemed at significantly higher risk of either acquiring the infection or of an adverse outcome should they acquire infection.

Boards must have systems for risk assessment and mitigation with clearly defined responsibilities, routes to obtain advice from health and safety, occupational health, and other specialist advisers where required.

Occupational risk assessment guidance specific to COVID-19 is available. Further information for at risk or pregnant healthcare workers can be found in Guidance for Staff and Managers on Coronavirus