Assessing employee vulnerability to Covid-19
Covid-19 affects people in many ways. As the pandemic has spread worldwide, scientific knowledge continues to develop about how some groups are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 in terms of severity of the disease and the number of deaths it causes. This research can help identify employees who may be more vulnerable because of a variety of reasons.
There is a picture emerging that disparities in risks and outcomes are due to factors such as gender, ethnicity and age, which are compounded by factors including obesity, high blood pressure and a range of other pre-existing health conditions. Research to date has shown that older males from black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds are at a higher risk of getting sick and/or dying from Covid-19. We also know that these high-risk groups are more likely to experience disparities such as health inequalities, poverty, poor housing and the effects of crime. In many workplaces such individuals are less likely to access opportunities for health protection services such as mental health support services, occupational health and related services and participate less with health and wellbeing initiatives.
The rail industry wants to reduce the disparities that affect people in the workforce. The Good practice guidance on Covid-19 individual employee vulnerability risk assessment introduces principles to consider for undertaking individual vulnerability risk assessments to support staff. Its aim is to increase an individual’s awareness of their potential risks and reduce disparities by improving accessibility to an Occupational Health professional who can undertake a full clinical risk assessment and advise on appropriate controls.
This guidance introduces principles to consider for undertaking individual vulnerability risk assessments to support staff. These principles build on examples of good practice implemented during Covid-19. RSSB recommends that the adoption and adaptation of this guidance be considered locally through engaging with employees, occupational health professionals, and trade union representatives.
This guidance is part of a suite of industry risk assessment resources for managing Covid-19.