An outbreak of COVID-19 in the workforce can have serious health consequences for staff and the wider community, as well as financial and reputational implications for the business. It is therefore critical that employers ensure that there are measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus and that their staff are given appropriate training and support to protect themselves and their colleagues from the risk of infection.
As you will be aware prevalence of Covid-19 within our communities is high at the moment and you may have employees travelling from areas with higher prevalence than Stirling. As such it’s likely that you will experience positive cases within your workforce.
It is anticipated that you will have internal procedures for suspected and positive cases. As part of these an internal investigation should identify all close contacts of the case who will then have to self-isolate to prevent further spread. It should also identify whether there has been any workplace transmission and where reporting under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) is required.
We have been asked by the NHS Forth Valley Director of Public Health, Dr Graham Foster, to remind businesses of two areas of particular concern – car sharing and ensuring 2 metre distancing is maintained even if face coverings are worn. Further details can be found in his interview published in the Falkirk Herald last week.
Where outbreaks are suspected it’s imperative that you deal with these promptly to contain the situation. You should suspect an outbreak if you have the following:
- two or more linked cases (confirmed or suspected) of Coronavirus (COVID-19) reported in the business within 14 days - where cross transmission has been identified; or
- an increase in staff absence rates due to suspected or confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19)
NHS Forth Valley may call for a Problem Assessment Group (PAG) or Incident Management Team (IMT) meeting. A representative from your business may then be asked to attend. The primary focus is to bring the situation under control, not to find fault.
It’s worth noting that Food Standards Scotland has worked with Public Health Scotland to publish guidance on investigation of COVID-19 outbreaks in food businesses, with respect to Incident Management Team (IMT) investigations. While this refers to food businesses, much of the content is applicable to all businesses:
- How to identify a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in the workforce
- What to do when an outbreak is suspected
- Controlling COVID-19 in the workplace
- How to prepare for an IMT and the procedures after an IMT is called
- Summary of COVID-19 control measures in food businesses
Last updated: Friday, November 13, 2020 5:37 PM