Pandemic preparedness from the perspective of Occupational Health professionals Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract Background Prior to any infectious disease emergence as a public health concern, early occupational preparedness is crucial for protecting employees from novel pathogens— coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is no different. Aims This study ascertains how occupational safety and health (OSH)/Human Resource (HR) professionals in the Republic of Ireland had managed to prepare their workplaces prior to the advent of COVID-19. METHODS As part of a larger COVID-19 workplace study, online focus groups were conducted with OSH/HR professionals. Collected data were transcribed verbatim and entered into NVivo for thematic analysis incorporating intercoder reliability testing. RESULTS Fifteen focus groups were conducted with OSH/HR professionals (n = 60) from various occupational settings. Three levels of organizational preparedness were identified: ‘early awareness and preparation’; ‘unaware and not ready’ and ‘aware, but not ready’. Most organizations were aware of the COVID-19 severity, but not fully prepared for the pandemic, especially stand-alone enterprises that may not have sufficient resources to cope with an unanticipated crisis. The experiences shared by OSH professionals illustrate their agility in applying risk management and control skills to unanticipated public/occupational health crises that arise. Conclusions General pandemic preparedness such as the availability of work-from-home policies, emergency scenario planning and prior experience in workplace outbreaks of infectious diseases were helpful for workplace-associated COVID-19 prevention. This is the first study conducted with OSH/HR professionals in Ireland regarding COVID-19 preparedness in workplaces, which provides valuable insights into research literature, as well as empirical experience for the preparation of future public health emergencies.


  • Chen, Y
  • Ingram, C
  • Downey, V
  • Roe, M
  • Sripaiboonkij, P
  • Buckley, CM
  • Alvarez, Elizabeth
  • Perrotta, C
  • Buggy, C

publication date

  • February 19, 2024