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Advice for health staff

All of us in SIPTU and across the nation are hugely grateful to the large number of health and welfare staff, of all grades, whose job means they are – or could be – in contact with people who have the coronavirus.

We appreciate that this puts you at higher risk than most, and we value and admire the exceptional contribution you’re making in this crisis.

The HSE has issued various guidelines for workers in this situation, including this on healthcare worker management by occupational health.’

It says staff should not be rostered to work with coronavirus patients if they don’t have appropriately-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE). And they should be trained in the proper use of PPE.

It also says pregnant staff, and those with a medical vulnerability, should not be rostered to work with coronavirus patients if they have indicated a desire to be redeployed.

The guidance identifies some basic steps required to prevent the transmission of the virus in healthcare settings.

These include instruction and training about the virus, modes of transmission and the measures staff should take to protect themselves.

It also says employers should provide a safe work environment including through the provision of appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE). It identifies the need for training and staff competency in coronavirus-related infection control practices and procedures, including the proper use and disposal of PPE.

It says managers are responsible for:

  • Providing adequate resources for the prevention and management of coronavirus
  • Advising staff about the terms and conditions of sick leave and special leave with pay
  • Identifying staff in contact with confirmed cases of Covid-19 and referring any possible close contacts to Occupational Health for contact tracing
  • Maintaining and providing access to contact packs within the clinical and hospital settings,
  • And redeploying pregnant or immunocompromised staff from direct contact with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 if the person has requested this.

It says staff must:

  • Follow the guidance provided by Occupational Health, Public Health and their manager.
  • Immediately act to self-isolate if they have been identified as a contact and become unwell at work, and inform their manager and Occupational Health so that appropriate testing can be arranged.

The guidance also covers a range of other issues including the management of exposure in the workplace, the management of contacts and close contacts, self-quarantine, the role of Occupational Health, and health workers returning from abroad.

The HSE has also published professional guidance for healthcare professionals.

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