A recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection found serious problems and made recommendations that Trust’s and Boards should be prioritising. In particular, the HSE’s website states that ‘The priority for your risk assessment is to identify areas of your workplace that are usually occupied and are poorly ventilated. You should prioritise those areas for improvement to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission’.
SoR National Health & Safety Officer Ian Cloke said: 'The new Government advice applies to everywhere – including and especially workplaces. Long before Covid our health & safety reps were raising concerns about poor ventilation. In old buildings this can be a real problems but its also happening in so-called hi-tech newer hospitals where many screening services are being provided in cramped, airless, windowless room.'
Ian continued: 'It’s has been a long running inconvenient truth for Trusts. Some are now acting and we’re seeing encouraging signs of progress but we are also hearing reports of others still trying to avoid their responsibilities to staff and patients. Any employer arguing the government’s advice is aimed at households needs to accept the time for excuses is over. One of the positives from Covid-19 has to be good ventilation being given the priority it deserves. After the HSE report there should be no excuse or hiding place for employers who refuse to address the problem.'
All health & safety reps are encouraged to raise the HSE report at Trust and Board wide staff consultation level to make sure the issue is a recognised priority it needs to be.
The HSE report makes a number of recommendations where good practice could be improved, including a particular focus on ventilation. The importance of good ventilation in the work place was clearly highlighted in the HSE’s inspections.