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When collecting employee health information during the pandemic, be transparent about how the data will be used, disclosed and retained.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/covid19/article/21145909/data-privacy-considerations-for-employers-collecting-health-data-from-employees-during-pandemic

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Winter means shorter days and longer, darker nights - less natural sunlight. For some, it also brings what is known as the “Winter Blues” and, for some, a more complex disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. This seasonal depression affects as much as 3-5 percent of the general population, and those who already are diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, they are 20 percent more likely to suffer from seasonal depression.

Add onto this, we are in the middle of a pandemic, which cases are spiking again, and more strict restrictions are happening again around the country. So more social distancing and more physical isolation, which will compound the feelings of loneliness and sadness for many. Statistics are now showing more than 1 in 400 Americans are testing positive for the coronavirus, so the likelihood of knowing someone who has the virus or even who has died because of the virus is much higher, so for some, this will make the winter months and the holiday season much more difficult.

While “Winter Blues,” which means a low mood during the winter months, can be felt by many at some point during the colder, darker days, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is defined as a regular seasonal pattern of major depressive episodes during the fall and winter months with periods of full improvement in the spring and summer. If you think you suffer from SAD, it is a good idea to talk to a your doctor or a mental health professional for support.

Experiencing periods of low moods during these winter months? Here are some mood-boosting tips – for those who are both working remotely as well as those who are still going to the workplace:
• Spend at least 30 minutes per day outdoors – sun is vital to our well-being!
• Resist sugar and excess caffeine, which tend to give many of us an emotional roller coaster ride.
• Plan at least one social interaction per week – social distancing does not have to mean social isolation, so find creative ways to connect with others but still staying safe.
• Plan some vacation time – even if it’s a staycation! Spending time doing what you love, if it’s hiking, baking, reading or getting caught up on your favorite show can help distract you and make this winter more manageable.
• Find a routine that works for you – especially in the morning. It helps get you started on the right path for the day and takes your attention away from the weather.
• Go greener – as in add plants to your office space, which studies have shown that interaction with indoor plants can reduce psychological and physiological stress, and they boost workplace productivity.
• Focus on your health by eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep.

Most experts agree the lack of sunlight during the winter season throws off the body’s rhythm and leads to hormonal changes as well as a decrease in the production of serotonin, the chemical your brain produces when you have a lot of energy and are in a good mood. Using the above tips can help you combat the winter blues – and before you know, spring will be in the air…and hopefully a COVID vaccine!

Employers will have to revise their COVID-19-related safety policies and practices to meet new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on what it means to have been in "close contact" with an infected person.

Read entire article - https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/new-cdc-guidance-makes-contact-tracing-more-difficult-for-employers.aspx

Posted by on in Uncategorized

The saying goes “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” and that holds true when it comes to OSHA’s annual top 10 most frequently cited violations as falls tops the list again for the tenth year in a row. But some of the others tend to switch spots year to year, and some fall off one year and come back on the following year.

OSHA publishes this yearly reminder with the hope that employers will learn from these results and take steps to find and mitigate the hazards in their own workplace. It is believed most of the injuries and illnesses that happen in the workplace are preventable if safety measures are implemented and followed.

Here is OSHA’s 2020 Top Ten Violations:

1. Fall Protection (1926.501) – 8241 violations: Whenever a work is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction.

2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 6156 violations: Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemical they produce or import and prepare labels and safety data sheets to communicate the hazard information to their customers.

3. Scaffolding (1926.451) – 5423 violations: Scaffold accidents most often result from the planking or support giving way, or from the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.

4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 3879 violations: Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, other diseases or death.

5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 3254 violations: “Lockout-Tag out” refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.

6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 3340 violations: Each year, thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, occur in US workplaces. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks, lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer, they are struck by a lift truck, or when they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.

7. Ladders (1926.1053) – 3311 violations: Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The US Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma.

8. Electrical, Wiring Methods (1910.305) – 3452 violations: Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. many other workers can be exposed indirectly to electrical hazards just by being in an office situation.

9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 2701 violations: Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injures the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.

10. Electrical, General Requirements (1910.303) – 2745 violations: As a repeat to #8, working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies – and many other workers can be exposed indirectly to electrical hazards just by being in an office situation.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

The Barnes & Thornburg Wage and Hour Practice Group are watching COVID-related workplace litigation in courts across the country, alleging violations of a wide variety of state and federal employment laws and regulations, and are analyzing trends in the cases filed to hopefully help business prepare for potential pitfalls.

Read entire article - https://btlaw.com/insights/publications/covid-19-related-workplace-litigation-tracker#Workplace%20Safety

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