Long-COVID in the workplace | Health & Safety


As much as we would love to think COVID is a thing of the past, sadly it continues to be prevalent and affecting individuals and businesses, contributing to the continued strain on the NHS.

As a business what can be done to ensure we are continuing to consider Long-COVID as a risk to health? Do you employ anyone with underlying health conditions or who may have had acute COVID in the past? Are we all just getting on with things and hoping that it will go away on its own?

The reality is, Long-COVID is causing problems which cannot be just passed off as a bad cold or flu. Some of the symptoms affect individuals in other ways. As an organisation you need to acknowledge this in the management of stress, fatigue and indeed mental health of your employees.

What is long-COVID?

Long-COVID, Covid Long Haul or PASC (Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-Cov-2 Infection) is a syndrome observed in people who have previously tested positive for the Covid-19 infection and who, after more than 28 days, continue to experience symptoms of the disease. It is estimated that Long-COVID affects 10 per cent of people who contract Covid-19. As of July 2022, it was estimated that more than 56 million people globally were suffering varying degrees of Long-COVID.  

The WHO has developed a clinical case definition of post Covid-19: 

Post COVID-19 condition occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS CoV-2 infection, usually 3 months from the onset of COVID-19 with symptoms and that last for at least 2 months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.

Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, and cognitive dysfunction but also others that generally have an impact on everyday functioning. Symptoms may be new onset following initial recovery from an acute COVID-19 episode or persist from the initial illness. Symptoms may also fluctuate or relapse over time. 

The UK’s NICE guideline provides the definitions for Covid-19 and Long-COVID.   

Acute COVID-19 – Signs and symptoms of COVID‑19 for up to 4 weeks.  

Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19 – Signs and symptoms of COVID‑19 from 4 weeks up to 12 weeks.  

Post-COVID-19 syndrome – Signs and symptoms that develop during or after an infection consistent with COVID‑19, continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis. It usually presents with clusters of symptoms, often overlapping, which can fluctuate and change over time and can affect any system in the body.

Post‑COVID‑19 syndrome may be considered before 12 weeks while the possibility of an alternative underlying disease is also being assessed.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Long-COVID are numerous and affect multiple systems in the body (i.e., respiratory, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems). The most commonly reported symptoms include:

  • Fatigue 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Muscle pains 
  • Chest pain 
  • Cognitive impairment (brain fog) 
  • Headache 
  • Psychological disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Who gets Long-COVID?

It is difficult to predict who will develop Long-COVID. It’s not people who were hospitalised with severe and life-threatening Covid-19 who have gone on to develop Long-COVID. Individuals with reportedly mild cases of infection, who were treated at home, have also reported symptoms weeks and months later. However, what has become clear is that Long-COVID has been more common in the following groups: 

  • Those with pre-existing health conditions (i.e., diabetes, asthma, hypertension) 
  • People over the age of 50 years 
  • People with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) 
  • Women 
  • Covid-19 patients who experienced five or more symptoms in the first week of their infection. 

Additional measures needed

You may have employees that fall into the groups above so it would be prudent to consider additional measures to support those employees or groups. For example, if you employ a driver who is presenting mild symptoms of fatigue for a prolonged period you may need to introduce additional breaks or shortened routes. Or if an employee whose job is to work prolonged hours on a computer, in addition to the generic DSE Assessment, it may be appropriate to introduce other measures to ensure symptoms are better managed.

Is Long-COVID a sleeping giant which is just waiting to strike, or will we just manage our way out of it?…

It would be prudent to have preventative measures in place and not underestimate the potential impact it may have on individuals and indeed your business if we just leave it to chance. Consider those symptoms and remember as a business you have the responsibility for the welfare of your employees.

If you would like to learn more about how oneSafe can help your business or require advice surrounding Long-COVID in the workplace, please get in contact with our team today.

E: contact@onehrsoftware.com

Twitter: @oneHR

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