An exploration of how ‘Living with COVID’ influences COVID-19 transmission risk, response and resilience in workplace settings: a Greater Manchester Case Study – Study 2
The Greater Manchester Case Study investigated how changes in policy and advice, as set out in the government report ‘Living with COVID’, affected COVID-19 transmission risk, response and resilience in workplace settings. This study, study 2, used qualitative interviews and survey data to investigate workplace responses during the course of the pandemic and how GM workplaces were supported by public health and environmental health teams throughout.
A companion PROTECT report from Greater Manchester Case Study – Study 1 includes an analysis of data on outbreaks of COVID-19 in GM workplaces and an analysis of interviews on workplace outbreaks in educational settings during the pandemic.
Study 2 highlighted the inequitable impact of the pandemic on those already experiencing health inequalities, including people on more precarious employment contracts or who were unable to work from home during the pandemic. The survey results suggest there were still concerns amongst employers and employees who responded to the survey around COVID-19 transmission in workplace settings.
The interview and survey findings also suggest that ventilation of workplaces needs more focus. Facilitators that helped local authorities to support employers to manage transmission included detailed national guidance, good communication, partnership working, funding, and timely access to data. Barriers to supporting employers included contradictory or confusing national guidance, structural inequalities/lack of funding, and delayed access to data.
The research suggests that many of the levers previously available to control COVID-19 transmission, such as access to testing, data, and formal Government guidance, were no longer available for the majority of workplaces and public health teams at the time of data collection. It is therefore vital to draw on lessons learned through the pandemic to ensure preparedness for future pandemics or health crises. To this end, recommendations for national government and local authority teams are included in the report.