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by Niall Christie
THE high number of people who have contracted Covid-19 in the workplace means the virus should be treated as an industrial injury, Labour MSPs said yesterday.
Central Scotland politician Mark Griffin is leading calls to reform employment protections in response to the pandemic.
The MSP is set to propose a Member’s Bill calling for Covid-19 infections in the workplace to be classed as an industrial illness.
Health and Safety Executive statistics have revealed that, as of December 12, employers in Scotland have made 1,345 reports of workers contracting the virus in their workplaces. Of those, 11 cases have led to deaths from the virus.
Mr Griffin said: “Reform of our industrial injuries support system was long overdue before the pandemic, but the scale of the damage done by Covid-19 has made that reform a matter of urgency.
“Coronavirus has ripped through workplaces across Scotland, exposing thousands to the virus and tragically leading to deaths. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Despite the number of deaths, both Scotland’s chief medical officer and national clinical director have stressed how difficult it is to identify how and where a person contracted the virus.
Mr Griffin’s proposals would also see the creation of a Scottish employment injuries advisory council and measures to tackle the gender gap of people seeking support.
The MSP is also seeking to tackle the long-established gender gap of the people seeking support through the proposed legislative change.
The Bill would also modernise industrial injury social security support and create a Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council to respond to swathes of people falling ill from Covid-19 in the workplace during the pandemic.
A consultation over the proposed Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council Bill is now open and will close next month.
Mr Griffin added: “With Covid-19 not currently recognised as an industrial illness, thousands of workers are going without the support and assistance they both need and deserve.
“Providing support for affected workers and making workplaces safe from Covid-19 cannot be left to the whims of employers.
“The Scottish government must get to grips with the realities of the pandemic and classify Covid-19 as a workplace illness as part of a restructuring of our industrial injuries support scheme.”
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