AS evidence is emerging of airborne transmission of Covid-19, current safety advice for construction workers is being called into question.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is being urged to consider its guidance on personal protective equipment, physical distancing and other protective measures in the workplace.
The Council of Global Unions has said workers will continue to die unnecessarily, as WHO has repeatedly denied that there is evidence for the airborne mode of transmission, instead saying the risk was limited to droplet transmission from close contact with infected individuals. The United Nations body has devised its recommendations on worker protection accordingly.
In the UK the government and trade body organisations now recommend that 2 metre social distancing is ideal, but one metre – or closer contact – can take place for up to 15 minutes.
Risk within several metres
The new evidence shows there is an airborne risk from normal processes like breathing or talking for anyone within several metres distance of someone infected.
It is also becoming clear that people with no symptoms can be spreaders of the virus.
Only 22 per cent of people testing positive for coronavirus reported having symptoms on the day of their test, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures published on 7 July.
UK statistics show some of the highest rates of Covid-19 have been in occupations classified as ‘medium’ or low risk’, including construction, transport, and security.
Global union organisations have called repeatedly for recognition of Covid-19 as an occupational disease eligible for compensation.