PRIOR to Covid, common info and worldwide pandemic guides from WHO, ILO, NGOs and worldwide commerce unions had been accessible in Scotland. They highlighted how greatest to plan and shield the general public, and well being care and different employees in pandemics.
By early 2020, extra info particularly on appropriate private protecting gear, aerosol and droplet publicity dangers and efficient air flow within the Covid pandemic emerged and may have formed planning.
Defending employee well being – be they well being care, social care, important or key employees – is vital to defending public well being, wider society and the financial system in a pandemic. Covid spreads inside workplaces and between workplaces and communities.
Scotland’s Covid inquiry ‘institution’ part commissioned analysis experiences. One was to “cowl solely the strategic response of the devolved administration in Scotland.”
Researchers, nevertheless, had discretion to discover key occasions. Hindsight is fantastic however pandemic planning foresight on employee well being and security previous to and in the beginning of 2020 ought to have been explored on this part.
Office well being and security regulation is a reserved UK matter. However, in the course of the pandemic, native authorities had an occupational well being and security enforcement function. The Scottish Authorities too produced its personal Covid office steerage as a result of the UK Well being and Security Govt gave the Covid result in public well being businesses.
So Covid employee well being and security was de facto devolved to the Scottish Authorities and its businesses and subsequently deserves shut examination.
The inquiry’s planning and preparedness scoping analysis report ought to legitimately have checked out Covid employee well being and security beneath the general public well being umbrella. It didn’t.
This might probably skew later inquiry findings. No particular point out of ‘well being and security’ and none on ‘air flow’ seems wherever in its report. There may be one point out of a 2018 WHO guidelines in its appendices indicating it was attainable to have a look at worldwide in addition to UK literature.
A separate analysis portfolio was commissioned on well being and social care service provision. This too uncared for employee well being and security with simply 4 very transient particular mentions of the subject and two references to air flow in lots of a whole lot of pages.
Occupational damage and ill-health impacts many deprived, marginalised, low paid employees, girls and ethnic minorities disproportionately: a serious inequality.
Such employees, usually in important and key jobs, in social and well being care and together with unpaid carers, confronted nice Covid dangers. We nonetheless owe them an enormous debt of gratitude for what they did in the course of the pandemic.
The Scottish public inquiry because it progresses should make sure the avoidable planning failures of the general public sector Covid responses to successfully shield these teams and wider society are correctly investigated and never ignored.
Professor Andrew Watterson, Stirling College