Research

Unionisation and injury risk in construction 
Canadian researchers sought to replicate an older previous cross-sectional study to estimate the association between unionisation and the risk of workers’ compensation injury claims.

They examined workers’ compensation company account records in the industrial, commercial and institutional construction sector in the province of Ontario, Canada, 2012–2018. They determined the company unionisation rates through linkage with records of unionised contractors.

The researchers, from the  Institute for Work and Health in Toronto, found that unionisation was associated with a lower risk of lost-time workers’ compensation injury claims. This result corroborates a similar, earlier, study. However they found that the protective effect of unionisation declined as company size decreased. In contrast to the previous study, a positive relationship between company unionisation and no-lost-time claim incidence was not found. However this could have been due in part to a refinement in the methodology. 
Read more: 
Robson LS, Landsman V, Latour-Villamil D, et al Unionisation and injury risk in construction: a replication study [Full articled can be accessed here 

Standing and other desks - good for workers 
Australian researchers have concluded that standing, treadmill and cycling desks improve workers' performance, and can counteract the increase in sedentary behaviour related to pandemic-forced working-from-home arrangements. 

The researchers from Central Queensland University's Appleton Institute looked at a number of studies on active workstations, and found they led to significant sustained improvement in working memory, attention and physical function.

Australian office workers spend 62 to 82 per cent of the working day seated, which negatively impacts their cardiometabolic and musculoskeletal health and cognitive performance. Breaking this up with sit-stand, walking or cycling desks can mitigate these impacts and provide additional benefits, like increased productivity and safety during and possibly after work. 

The review found sit-stand desks led to varied levels of cognitive benefits and that postural change, independent of energy use. Bouts of walking throughout the workday provided higher physical activity levels that could not be met by simply standing. 

According to the researchers, the studies in the review showed promising results for improving workers' cognitive performance through physical breaks.

The transition to working from home, which has led to workers being sedentary for longer periods, and being less physically active, also mean these interventions are now more practical, they say.

The researchers stress that job factors like sleep, stress, work demands and illness impact on workers' cognitive performance during work; employers must address these issues and take into account how they might counteract the benefits of active workstation interventions. Read more: Georgia Tuckwell, et al, Does breaking up sitting in office-based settings result in cognitive performance improvements which last throughout the day? A review of the evidence. [Abstract]  Australia, Industrial Health, published online January 2022, doi: 10.2486/indhealth.2021-0174. Source: OHSAlert

UK: Big office outbreak highlights protective role of rules 
After the UK government axed social distancing and face covering rules, and two weeks after self-isolation rules were weakened, over half the workforce in a UK office where everyone was double vaxxed developed COVID-19, a new study has found.

Experts from the UK Health Security Agency, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the London School of Tropical Medicine undertook the study. In results published ahead of peer-review, they note: “In late August-September 2021, a public-facing office in England, with adherence to governmental COVID-19 control guidance and high vaccination coverage, experienced an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 affecting 55 per cent of the workforce. At the time of this outbreak, governmental guidance for workplaces in England prioritised policies for risk assessments, adequate ventilation, frequent cleaning, self-isolation, and communication/training; however, social distancing and face covering usage were no longer compulsory. Two weeks before the outbreak, government guidance was amended so fully vaccinated people did not need to self-isolate if they were identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19.”

The authors say the outbreak demonstrates the need for multiple mitigations, noting “the importance of a layered SARS-CoV-2 transmission mitigation strategy prioritising ventilation and risk assessment-informed interventions, such as testing, social distancing, appropriate occupancy levels and transmission control measures (eg. face masks), in addition to vaccination.” 
Read more: Atkinson, B, et al. An outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in a public-facing office in England [Full], 2021, medRxiv 2022.01.31.22269194; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.01.31.22269194 Source: Risks 1023

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