As Occupational Hygienists, Covid-19 has presented us with numerous challenges, one of which is how we continue to protect the health of workers. Many of our members are busy helping businesses respond to and manage COVID-19 as workplaces continue to operate or begin to reopen, while others continue to effectively manage other workplace hazards.
Health care workers are recognised as a work group at highest risk of COVID-19 infection. At present there are proportionally more health care workers with COVID-19 than in the general population, approximately at a multiple of two to three. Failure to effectively protect our frontline health care workers not only places their immediate lives at risk but can also lead to another pathway of infection back into the community.
Over the past few weeks, the AIOH has been supporting the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) with their call for better protections and assurances across all Victorian hospitals to protect health care workers. It was clear to us that this was an area that was in need of support with good occupational hygiene advice, particularly in relation to aerosol transmission and key aspects of respiratory protection. This resulted in the ASA formally writing to the Minister for Health in Victoria and calling for several items last week, some of which are summarised below.