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Occupational Hazards

There has been a huge amount of coverage in the media on the issue of having the COVID jab.

Its been alleged that many businesses have told people if they don’t have a jab, they won’t have a job.

There seems to be a huge amount of uncertainty over whether existing staff can be told they must have a vaccination or they risk disciplinary action and over whether having a vaccination can be included as a term of employment when recruiting

Can employers enforce vaccinations?

Vaccination programmes for employees is not a new subject.

In some professions and sectors, employers have been managing the risks of communicable diseases for many years.
The healthcare sector, where some workers have vaccines for Hep B. Meanwhile, for business travellers, typhoid injections are often provided.

However, given COVID 19 presents a risk workplaces across sectors, the conversation around vaccinations – whether employers can enforce it – has taken off.

The simple answer is NO!! People can not be forced to have the vaccine and their continued employment can not depend on whether they have it or not.

It is recommended that employers provide information about the vaccine based on the Government advice and then it is down to each individual to make their choice.

In addition organisations must review their risk assessments – which should have been conducted – to determine whether further measures are required.

Immunisation should be the last line of defence and certainly not the sole protection offered. Therefore other control measures are still essential and required, particularly as vaccinations maybe not be 100% or even effective in everybody.

Depending on the outcome of the risk assessment you may need to implement other control measures.

What every organisation must do is protect their staff and everyone else impacted by their business.

Some control measures could be:

  • Reducing physical contact between workers and customers
  • Change starting time and finishing times
  • Allow a good supply of fresh air and ventilation
  • Keep working environments clean and have a cleaning schedule
  • Using signage about washing hands – how to wash hands etc
  • Introducing personal protective equipment
  • Have one way systems in the work areas
  • Reducing staff contact as much as possible

Keep in regular contact with all of staff and educate as much as possible.