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Asthma Society launches Back2Work Checklist to help asthma and COPD workers keep safe during COVID-19

One in four people with asthma and COPD are concerned about contracting COVID-19 from their colleagues

The Asthma Society of Ireland is today launching its Back2Work Checklist as part of its Life Alongside COVID-19 campaign. Last month, one in four users of the Asthma Society’s Asthma and COPD Adviceline service looked for additional information about returning to work and advice on safe working conditions during COVID-19.

This Checklist, which is designed to support people with asthma and COPD returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, will help them manage their condition and remind them of how to best protect themselves in the workplace in light of COVID-19. The Asthma Society’s Back2Work Checklist can be downloaded from asthma.ie.

Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland, said: “Over the next number of weeks, many people with both COPD and asthma will be returning to work for the first time since lockdown. Many of these people have expressed their concerns about returning to the workplace. In a survey conducted in April, completed by 2,462 people with asthma and COPD, it found that one in four people were concerned about contracting COVID-19 from their colleagues in their workplace.

These people, who were identified as being vulnerable during COVID-19, need to take extra precautions when returning to the workplace to ensure their risk of contracting COVID-19 is minimal and also to make sure that their condition is well managed to avoid a potentially fatal asthma attack.

Our Back2Work Checklist will help them do just that and we are calling on both people with asthma and with COPD to follow our checklist to ensure they are as safe as possible at work during COVID-19:”

Asthma and COPD Checklist for Employees

Manage your condition

  • Complete an Asthma Action Plan or a COPD Communication Card with your GP, respiratory specialist, or Adviceline Nurse
  • Familiarise yourself with the 5 Step Rule available from asthma.ie
  • Continue to take your medication as prescribed
  • Always carry your reliever (usually blue) inhaler with you in case of an asthma emergency. If you are using your reliever inhaler more than twice a week, you may be over-reliant; speak to your healthcare professional
  • Use the traffic lights system on your COPD communications card
  • Do some ‘Breathe Easier’ exercises available from copd.ie
  • Phone our Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64, or send a message to our new WhatsApp service on 086 059 0132 to speak to asthma and COPD nurse specialists
  • Top Tips for managing your condition and keeping well: https://www.asthma.ie/keeping-well-with-asthma-and-copd-during-covid-19

Stay COVID-19 aware

  • Download the free HSE COVID tracker app from covidtracker.gov.ie
  • Keep a daily diary of people you meet and limit interactions with others
  • Stay informed with COVID-19 updates from the HSE, Department of Health, and asthma.ie
  • Inform your employer and GP immediately if you experience COVID-19 symptoms; you may need to self-isolate

Protect yourself and others at work

  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or napkin. If you do not have one, turn your head away from others and cough or sneeze into your elbow
  • Practice social distancing and follow social distancing signs in public places
  • If required, ensure Personal Protective Equipment is worn correctly and face coverings do not impede your breathing; https://www.asthma.ie/document-bank/cloth-face-coverings-for-people-with-asthma-and-copd-during-covid-19
  • Refrain from touching your face

Ensure your workplace is safe

  • Discuss your workplace exposure risk and your asthma related risk with your occupational department/employer and your GP
  • Regularly clean and disinfect your workspace
  • Request and familiarise yourself with your employers’ business COVID-19 Response Plan: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Return-to-Work-Safely-Protocol.html
  • Contact the HSA by emailing wcu@hsa.ie or phoning 1890 289 389 if you are:
    • worried about how your workplace is responding to social distancing or other measures
    • an employer and want advice on coronavirus prevention measures in the workplace

Travel safely

  • Plan your route to work: walk, cycle or drive where possible
  • If using public transport, try to use off peak times and avoid cash transactions. Use a Leap Card or bus pass where possible. Visit transportforireland.ie for updated timetables and information
  • Face Coverings are now mandatory on public transport with exemption for children under 13 or those who have difficulty breathing

A second version of this Checklist can also be found on asthma.ie specifically for employers. The employer’s version of the Checklist will help employers put measures in place to ensure people with asthma and COPD remain safe in the workplace during COVID-19.

The Asthma Society’s Back2Work Checklist is part of their overarching Life Alongside COVID-19 campaign which was launched to help people with asthma and COPD returning to the workplace and young people returning to education, stay safe during COVID-19.  Over the next number of months, the Asthma Society will be launching additional resources, including a newly updated Asthma Management booklet, a Back2School Checklist, a series of Facebook lives and a webinar to help ensure people with asthma and COPD and their carers can safely re-adjust to a COVID-19 world.

As part of this campaign, the Asthma Society will be holding a Facebook Live channel; @asthmasociety on Tuesday 4 August at 2:30pm on asthma management in the workplace and on how to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 at work. The Facebook live will be conducted by Respiratory Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Ruth Morrow, and will cover topics such as travelling to work safely, staying COVID-19 aware in the workplace and ensuring the workplace is safe for you and for others. This Facebook live is primarily aimed at employees but it will also be advantageous for employers to watch.

The Asthma Society’s Life Alongside COVID-19 campaign is kindly supported by AstraZeneca.

Federico Viganò, Company President AstraZeneca Ireland, said:We are delighted to support the Asthma Society in their Life Alongside COVID-19 campaign. People with asthma and COPD are particularly vulnerable in these uncertain times and we believe that this campaign will help make readjusting to life during COVID-19 easier and safer for these people.”

The Asthma Society’s Beating Breathlessness WhatsApp Patient Support Service is an excellent resource for those heading back to work who require additional guidance, launched earlier in the year to help people with asthma and COPD to manage their condition and also to help them manage with anxiety caused by COVID-19.

Sarah O’Connor, continued: “Our Beating Breathlessness service allows patients to message a respiratory specialist nurse to get support, advice and information about returning to work with asthma or COPD. Save the Beating Breathlessness number on your phone – (086) 059 0132. Send a WhatsApp message to our nurse with your query or to start your asthma/COPD chat today.”

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