Now showing 1 - 10 of 10
  • Publication
    COVID-19 workplace impacts - Irish OSH professionals experience and observations
    COVID-19 has had a significant impact on workers, arising from adaptations to control measures and consequent behaviour changes that minimise disease spread in the workplace. From an occupational safety & health (OSH) perspective, understanding how adaptations and behaviour changes have impacted workers is relevant to how organisations can preserve the health of their workers when adapting to future health emergencies.
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  • Publication
    Development and validation of a multi-lingual online questionnaire for surveying the COVID-19 prevention and control measures used in global workplaces
    Introduction: There is an ongoing need for targeted disease prevention and control efforts in high-risk occupational settings. This study aimed to develop, pilot, and validate an instrument for surveying occupational COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) measures available to the global workforce. Material and Methods: A 44-item QualtricsXM survey was developed, translated, and validated for face, content, and cross-cultural validity according to literature review, expert consultation, and pre-testing. The survey was piloted with 890 workers from diverse industries and countries. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted, and internal consistency reliability verified with Cronbach’s alpha. Hypothesis testing and Pearson correlation coefficients verified construct validity (i.e., known-groups technique, discriminant validity), and criterion validity. Results: EFA revealed nine key IPC domains relating to: environmental adjustments, testing and surveillance, education, costs incurred, restricted movements, physical distancing, masking, isolation strategies, and areas for improvement. Each domain showed sufficient internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s alpha ≥ 0.60). Hypothesis testing confirmed construct validity (p < 0.001), criterion validity (p ≤ 0.03), and discriminant validity (r = -0.45). Conclusions: The occupational IPC measures survey showed strong validity and reliability. It can be used by decision makers in the distribution of IPC resources, and to guide occupational health and safety (OSH) recommendations for preventing COVID-19 and future infectious disease outbreaks.
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  • Publication
    COVID19 in Irish Workplaces and Communities - Modelling Outbreaks from Infection data
    During 2020-2021, the government of Ireland in line with international recommendations imposed the closure of non-essential trades, services, and commerce. Food plant factories, meat processing plants among others were deemed essential and remained open. During that time, many workers were exposed to outbreaks in their workplaces. Some of the questions arising included if workers will adapt to new safety measures, if those measures could prevent and mitigate workplace outbreaks and, if an outbreak occur in a closed facility, if it will impact community transmission. The most vulnerable workplaces were typically front-line industries, with healthcare and food processing facilities among the hardest hit by Covid-19 infections. To complete the core aims, statistical models were developed for WP1. These models could accurately predict the scale of an outbreak in a meat processing plant based on the infection transmission in the community in the weeks preceding the outbreak and account for patterns in infection spread in both Ireland and worldwide using a ‘behavioural response’ mechanism. In addition to this, vaccine effectiveness was calculated using a method that made use of surveillance data. This demonstrated the strength and limitations of surveillance data. One clear aspect of behaviour in the COVID-19 pandemic has been people’s focus on, and response to, reported or observed infection numbers in their community. WP1 developed a simple model of infectious disease spread in a pandemic situation where people’s behaviour is influenced by the current risk of infection and where this behavioural response acts homeostatically to return infection risk to a certain preferred level. Analysis of worldwide COVID-19 data confirmed the model predictions at both an overall and an individual country level. Building on the findings of the infectious disease spread model, the research team aimed to investigate how individuals adapted their behaviours throughout the pandemic at an individual level, using the number of community cases and the number of contacts reported by cases to the contact-tracing program as a proxy for behavioural response. This work is ongoing at this time. In addition to this, estimations on vaccine effectiveness were calculated using a method that made use of surveillance data. This demonstrated the strength and limitations of surveillance data. There were significant challenges in completing WP1, primarily caused by a difficulty in accessing the required data, however, the primary aims and goals of the work package were achieved and a meaningful body of research was produced on disease spread in specific, controlled environments and among the general population. Our work will certainly inform future pandemics. The main messages are 1) that community transmission can predict the occurrence of outbreaks -suggesting that managers and Public Health officials should work together to reinforce surveillance during peaks of community transmission and 2) high risk settings -like meat factories- can reduce or mitigate outbreaks if they introduce timely protective measures.
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  • Publication
    COVID-19 prevention and control measures in workplace settings: a rapid review and meta-analysis
    Workplaces are high-risk environments for SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks and subsequent community transmission. Identifying, understanding, and implementing effective workplace SARS-CoV-2 infection prevention and control (IPC) measures is critical to protect workers, their families, and communities.
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  • Publication
    Teaching design thinking as a tool to address complex public health challenges in public health students: a case study
    Background: Developing a public health workforce that can understand problems from a population perspective is essential in the design of impactful user-centred responses to current population health challenges. Design Thinking, a user-driven process for problem-defining and solution-finding, not only has utility in the field of public health but stands as a potential mechanism for developing critical skills -such as empathy, creativity and innovation- amongst future professionals. Though the literature reflects the use of DT across many health sciences disciplines, less research has been published on how students apply learned concepts using real-world challenges of their choice and what difficulties they face during the process. Methods: This case study evaluates achieved learning outcomes after the introduction of a design thinking block into post-graduate public health curriculum at the University College Dublin. Two independent assessors evaluated student learning outcomes and observed difficulties during the process by assessing group presentations to identify and understand any learning difficulties using an ad-hoc designed tool. The tool consisted of twelve items scored using a 5-point Likert scale. Student feedback, in the form of an online survey, was also analysed to determine their level of enjoyment, perceived learning outcomes and opinions on the course content. Results: The assessors evaluated thirteen DT group presentations and reports from 50 students. The groups chose a range of topics from socialization of college students during Covid-19 to mental health challenges in a low-income country. Independent assessment of assignments revealed that the highest scores were reached by groups who explored a challenge relevant to their own lives (more than 80% of total possible points versus 60% class average). The groups that explored challenges more distant to themselves struggled with problem finding with a mean score of 2.05 (SD ± 1.2) out of 5 in that domain. The greatest difficulties were observed in problem finding and ideation. Though most students found the design thinking block enjoyable and relevant to their education, they recommended that the DT block be a stand-alone module. Students recognized that groups who chose a familiar topic experienced fewer difficulties throughout the process. Conclusion: The study showed that DT learning outcomes were best achieved when students focused on challenges, they had either personally experienced or were familiar with. These findings provide insight for future iterations of DT workshops and support the teaching of user-centred approaches to future public health practitioners.
      137Scopus© Citations 4
  • Publication
    COVID-19 prevention and control measures in workplace settings: a rapid review and meta-analysis
    Workplaces can be high-risk environments for SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks and subsequent community transmission. Identifying, understanding, and implementing effective workplace SARS-CoV-2 infection prevention and control (IPC) measures is critical to protect workers, their families, and communities. A rapid review and meta-analysis were conducted to synthesize evidence assessing the effectiveness of COVID-19 IPC measures implemented in global workplace settings through April 2021. Medline, Embase, PubMed, and Cochrane Library were searched for studies that quantitatively assessed the effectiveness of workplace COVID-19 IPC measures. The included studies comprised varying empirical designs and occupational settings. Measures of interest included surveillance measures, outbreak investigations, environmental adjustments, personal protective equipment (PPE), changes in work arrangements, and worker education. Sixty-one studies from healthcare, nursing home, meatpacking, manufacturing, and office settings were included, accounting for ~280,000 employees based in Europe, Asia, and North America. Meta-analyses showed that combined IPC measures resulted in lower employee COVID-19 positivity rates (0.2% positivity; 95% CI 0–0.4%) than single measures such as asymptomatic PCR testing (1.7%; 95% CI 0.9–2.9%) and universal masking (24%; 95% CI 3.4–55.5%). Modelling studies showed that combinations of (i) timely and widespread contact tracing and case isolation, (ii) facilitating smaller worker cohorts, and (iii) effective use of PPE can reduce workplace transmission. Comprehensive COVID-19 IPC measures incorporating swift contact tracing and case isolation, PPE, and facility zoning can effectively prevent workplace outbreaks. Masking alone should not be considered sufficient protection from SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks in the workplace.
      355Scopus© Citations 58
  • Publication
    Homelessness and health-related outcomes in the Republic of Ireland: a systematic review, meta-analysis and evidence map
    Aim: To map existing research on homelessness and health in the Republic of Ireland, and to synthesize the evidence on housing-related disparities in health. Methods: Peer-reviewed articles and conference abstracts published in English between 2012–2022 were retrieved from 11 bibliographic databases if they contained empirical data on homelessness and health in Ireland, and – in a subsequent screening stage – at least one measure of health disparity between the homeless and general populations. Reviewers extracted relative risks (RR), 95% confidence intervals (CI), and calculated pooled RR of comparable health disparities using pairwise random-effects meta-analyses. Results: One hundred four articles contained empirical data on the health of homeless individuals residing in Ireland, addressing primarily substance use, addiction and mental health. Homelessness was associated with increased risk of illicit drug use (RR 7.33 [95% CI 4.2, 12.9]), reduced access to a general practitioner (GP) (RR 0.73 [CI 95% 0.71, 0.75]), frequent emergency department (ED) presentation (pooled RR 27.8 [95% CI 4.1, 189.8]), repeat presentation for self-harm (pooled RR 1.6 [95% CI 1.2, 2.0]) and premature departure from hospital (pooled RR 2.65 [95% CI 1.27, 5.53]). Conclusions: Homelessness in Ireland is associated with reduced access to primary care and overreliance on acute care. Chronic conditions amongst homeless individuals are understudied.
    Scopus© Citations 2  6
  • Publication
    Employee Mental Health During COVID-19 Adaptation: Observations of Occupational Safety and Health/Human Resource Professionals in Ireland
    Objectives: This study aims to understand mental health issues among Irish employees arising from COVID-19 adaptation from the perspective of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and/or Human Resource (HR) professionals. Methods: Fifteen focus groups including 60 OSH/HR professionals from various sectors were conducted covering four predetermined themes. The data were transcribed verbatim, with transcripts entered into Nvivo for thematic analysis incorporating intercoder reliability testing. Results: The mental health impacts among employees are identified from three stages: pre-adaptation, during adaptation, and post-adaptation. Most issues were reported during the second stage when working conditions dramatically changed to follow emerging COVID-19 policies. The identified mental health support from participating organizations included providing timely and reliable information, Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), informal communication channels, hybrid work schedules and reinforcement of control measures. Conclusion: This study explores the challenges facing employees during the different stages of COVID-19 adaptation and the associated mental health impacts. Gender’s influence on mental health consultations should be considered when planning for public health emergencies, and further research conducted in male dominated industries.
      118Scopus© Citations 3
  • Publication
    ‘Communication, that is the key’: a qualitative investigation of how essential workers with COVID-19 responded to public health information
    Objectives: To understand how essential workers with confirmed infections responded to information on COVID-19. Design: Qualitative analysis of semistructured interviews conducted in collaboration with the national contact tracing management programme in Ireland. Setting: Semistructured interviews conducted via telephone and Zoom Meetings. Participants: 18 people in Ireland with laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections using real-time PCR testing of oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal swabs. All individuals were identified as part of workplace outbreaks defined as ≥2 individuals with epidemiologically linked infections. Results: A total of four high-order themes were identified: (1) accessing essential information early, (2) responses to emerging ‘infodemic’, (3) barriers to ongoing engagement and (4) communication strategies. Thirteen lower order or subthemes were identified and agreed on by the researchers. Conclusions: Our findings provide insights into how people infected with COVID-19 sought and processed related health information throughout the pandemic. We describe strategies used to navigate excessive and incomplete information and how perceptions of information providers evolve overtime. These results can inform future communication strategies on COVID-19.
      96Scopus© Citations 1
  • Publication
    COVID19 and Irish Workplaces - Perspectives and Experiences of Occupational Safety and Health / Human Resource Personnel
    The COVID-19 pandemic has had deleterious effects on the global population, including the employees who have had to frequently adapt their working style for the purpose of mitigating COVID-19 workplace transmission. It is important for the employers, OSH management and policymakers to understand how COVID-19 adaptation may have impacted on workplaces and workers’ health and wellbeing, along with experiences associated with mitigation measures such as newly introduced control measures, COVID-19 related communication strategies and behavioural apathy. This work package (WP2) as part of a larger SFI research grant that focuses on the impacts on organisations and their employees in Ireland from an OSH perspective using focus group interviews with OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) and/or HR (Human Resource) professionals who work closely with OSH counterparts as their experiences of working during the pandemic are considered invaluable for reflection on how Irish organisations managed during the pandemic as well as future planning. Based on the thematic analysis, the findings were reported from four perspectives: organisational preparedness and support; organisational impact from COVID-19; impact on workers from COVID-19; and the future of OSH in a post COVID-19 world. Since the data collected were richer than anticipated, an emergent theme ‘Worker Mental Health and How to Support’ has also been reported as an independent chapter. Additionally, a survey instrument was developed based on the findings of the focus groups, which can be used by OSH professionals to evaluate COVID-19 adaptation impact on workers in their respective organisation has been designed and validated and a user guide prepared. Overall, WP2 was conducted as optimally as possible given the limitations COVID19 placed on research and the goals for the work package have been achieved. Furthermore, WP2 also provided added value to the macro project, owing to the impressive amount of data collected which could be used for other aspects of the project.
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