Knowledge share workshop with PROTECT researchers: consolidating similarities and differences in findings from sector specific research.

Rebecca Canham, Katie Clabon, Anna Coleman, Paniz Hosseini

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


Engagement with researchers during the workshop generated findings that were sector-specific cross-cutting and common across the different sectors of interest. Across the four workshop sessions, there were more findings that were sector-specific than common. This may be due to the differences between subsector practices, work environments and workforce demographics, which was highlighted for many of the sectors of interest. For example, within the food sector COVID-19
risks and measures were said to likely differ between workers making sandwiches on a production line indoors in close proximity with colleagues compared to fruit pickers spaced out in an outdoor environment. There were also recurrent themes identified in the data across the four sessions in the workshop e.g. testing which was discussed as a mitigation measure, access to testing as a risk factor
and also as a barrier and enabler to preventing viral transmission.
Mitigation measures:
• There were almost twice as many sector specific mitigations identified than cross-cutting mitigations and only a small number of common3 mitigations.
• Common mitigation measures cited were: ventilation, face coverings, social distancing, enhanced cleaning regimes and testing. Sector specific mitigations included on site mitigations, measures in place to protect staff and monitoring of workers. There were also some unexpected mitigation measures identified as sector specific e.g. one-way systems were only discussed relative to the food and energy sectors. However, the absence of this mitigation within the other sectors may indicate that this was outside of the project scope of sector specific research conducted, or indeed that this did not emerge as a finding on the day of the workshop.
Risk factors for transmission:
• There were more common risk factors identified, than sector-specific risk factors2 and cross-cutting risk factors3
.Themes in common risk factors discussed included: support, shared transport and accommodation, behavioural factors and work environment.
• Examples of sector-specific risk factors identified included: diverse cultural
backgrounds/language barriers, correct use of PPE/face coverings, ease/ability to work from home, staff shortages, communication challenges, presenteeism and trust/distrust.
Barriers and enablers to preventing the spread of the virus:
• Two barriers were common across the sectors. Cost of control measures and communication of messages; and confusing government guidelines were identified across all sectors as a barrier to controlling COVID-19 transmission.
• Testing was the only one enabler to controlling transmission identified to be common, in seven sectors. Examples of sector specific barriers include behaviour compliance, access to testing, mobile population, nature of work, client demands/expectations and competing challenges outside of sector.
Examples of enablers were found to be sector specific: communication within and beyond sectors, technology, information and data gathering and sharing.
Gaps in COVID-19 knowledge:
• Knowledge gaps related to mitigation measures, such as: lack of clarity surrounding the effectiveness of individual mitigations; the continuation of specific mitigations moving forwards; relative cost-effectiveness, lack of understanding on the effects of ventilation, temperature and humidity, lack of guidance available about how to prepare for potential variants of the virus and surrounding the effectiveness of workplace risk assessments.
• Knowledge gaps also related to human behaviour and communication, including: understanding why certain workers are more likely to follow government guidelines and follow mitigation measures as opposed to others, changes in guidance throughout the duration of the pandemic meaning workers are unable to plan effectively for the future due to constant change in guidance, how to effectively communicate and plan responses moving forward, “at risk” groups/workers and lack of knowledge relating to COVID-19 rates in the
local community.
• Examples of knowledge gaps surrounding longer-term issues related to COVID-19: the unknown effect of potential future variants, the virus’ transmission routes and symptoms and unknown future of the pandemic, “living with COVID-19” phase of the pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyHealth and Safety Executive (HSE) Science Directorate
Number of pages52
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2023


  • Sectors
  • Similarities
  • Differences
  • COVID-19
  • Risk


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