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What's your 'covid-age'

   What's your 'covid-age'

I’m fairly certain no two lockdown experiences will be the same, there are so many different variables to be considered. Access to green spaces, proximity to walking routes that keep physical distance and the amount of space available in homes are all pertinent factors.

One thing that has become really clear is that covid-19 makes people ill and as with any other hazard risk assessment is needed, we have become familiar with the terms ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ or high risk and also ‘clinically vulnerable’ or moderate risk.

Those at high risk being advised to shield and those at moderate risk being advised to follow social distancing rules…it all sounds clear. Much has been made about people over the age of 70 and keeping themselves safe, but age in Covid-19 terms is more than a fixed chronological term!

As the pandemic has unfolded a clearer picture has emerged about its impact where there are health inequalities and that it is unequal in terms of its impact on the BAME community. And as the weeks have moved on the importance of facts minimising fears has become more important in drowning out the noise around Covid-19 towards rational decision-making. Employers across the UK are now focussed on bringing 8.9 million people back to work. Decision making based on government advice and worker health and wellbeing will underpin the success of this mass rehabilitation and return to work.

This is where the work of Professor David Coggon et al comes into play, evidence based decision making assisting employers in the UK to focus on the ‘covid-age’ of their workers and use this to build back better.

The research details that decisions on fitness for employment that entails a risk of contracting Covid-19 require an assessment of the worker’s personal vulnerability should infection occur. Using recently published UK data, a risk model has been developed that provides estimates of personal vulnerability to Covid-19 according to sex, age, ethnicity, and various comorbidities. Vulnerability from each risk factor is quantified in terms of its equivalence to added years of age. Addition of the impact from each risk factor to an individual’s true age generates their “Covid-age”, a summary measure representing the age of a healthy UK white male with equivalent vulnerability.

Important limitations of the model, are discussed including current scientific uncertainties and limitations on generalisability beyond the UK setting and its use beyond informing assessments of individual vulnerability in the workplace. As new evidence becomes available, some of these limitations will be addressed. The model does not remove the need for clinical judgement or for other important considerations when managing occupational risks from Covid-19.

The building back better approach has to include ‘whole person’ considerations and establishing a ‘covid- age’ helps establish understanding of personal sustainability with concomitant benefits to business and society as we move forward.

Dr Karen McDonnell

Occupational safety and health adviser

Planning to reopen your work place? RoSPA can help with a Covid-19 Back-to-Work Review

Posted: 8/25/2020 11:36:41 AM 0 comments


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