COVID-19 in THOR data

by | Feb 12, 2021 | COVID-19, THOR data | 0 comments

Martin Seed, NHS Consultant and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Occupational Medicine at The University of Manchester, discusses examples of COVID-19 within the data collected by THOR.

Martin SeedAs the first wave of the UK COVID-19 epidemic settled, there was an increase in THOR reporter activity, though case numbers still remain significantly below normal.

Nevertheless, there have been interesting examples that illustrate some of the potential direct and indirect consequences of COVID-19 on worker health.

COVID-19 itself was attributed to work in five OPRA reports, all in the healthcare sector. There was one SWORD case report of COVID-19 which was attributed to the work of an anaesthetist.

Six cases with worsening pre-existing asthma and/or skin conditions and three cases of new onset dermatoses were attributed to wearing of surgical face masks in OPRA reports. NHS occupational physicians will be only too aware of the difficulties of being asked to adjudicate on ‘mask intolerance’.

An EPIDERM case of allergic contact dermatitis was attributed to limonene and linalool in a fitness instructor, with the affected sites corresponding to sites of contact with workplace mats that had been sprayed with antibacterial spray.

Pandemic-related ergonomic risks are being reported to THOR. A case of work-related upper limb disorder (type 2) was attributed by an OPRA reporter to increased mouse use in a speech and language therapist who had to change job role during the pandemic.

In a case reported to THOR-GP, the likely cause of headache affecting an IT worker was reported as poor computer/desk positioning since working from home during lockdown. Working from home often takes place without a DSE assessment. It also adds to the work pressures faced by IT workers as illustrated by an OPRA report of adjustment disorder (anxiety) in an IT assistant attributed to the need for IT help from a huge increase in workers from home.

Perhaps something to be mindful of as we pick up the phone to IT services during moments of despair!