Last reviewed 4 May 2021

The chartered society for worker health protection has told its members that widespread workforce vaccination is not yet a sufficient control to allow for the removal of other Covid measures.

The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) gave the warning as all the UK’s nations began to relax Covid-19 restrictions.

While much has still to be learned about the disease, it said, social distancing, testing and good ventilation remain key to preventing the spread in the workplace.

Simply relying on vaccination, at least in coming months, would be a risky strategy for employers, BOHS went on, and may contribute to outbreaks, undermine the public health benefits of the vaccine programme, or even cause the employer legal problems.

“The vaccination effort has been an outstanding British science success story and will save lives of workers, particularly those exposed to the general public and those with some vulnerabilities,” BOHS President Kelvin Williams said. “However, until the virus is not as widespread in the population, vaccination alone will not be sufficient.”

The Society draws attention to research by Oxford University (Significant reductions in Covid-19 infections found after single dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine), which highlights that asymptomatic infection is still an appreciable risk after receipt of vaccinations.

Noting the general easing of restrictions in society, Mr Williams concluded: “In social life, people can select the risks they wish to be exposed to but in the workplace it remains the responsibility of employers to ensure those risks are managed.”