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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in covid-19

In July 2020, the SAFE TO WORK Act (S. 4317) was introduced in Congress with the express purpose “to discourage insubstantial lawsuits related to COVID-19 while preserving the ability of individuals and businesses that have suffered real injury to obtain complete relief.” The bill did not pass before the 116th Congress expired. But the need for employer protection during the continuing uncertainty of the pandemic remains. Cue the state houses.

Read entire article - https://www.foley.com/en/insights/publications/2021/01/states-employer-immunity-covid19-lawsuits

Patterns of addiction usually increase during natural disasters and pandemics. This past year, many people were quarantined and struggling with economic uncertainties, while also juggling school and work schedules and everything in between. Those who were already struggling with pre-existing mental illnesses or substance abuse issues may have turned to illicit substance use as a way to cope with the extra distress of the past year, and COVID-19 has exacerbated the opioid crisis – some studies showing that 2020 will be the worst year for opioid overdoses.

This year’s National Prevention Week is May 9-15, and this public education platform focuses on promoting prevention year-round through providing ideas, capacity building, tools, and resources to help individuals and communities make substance use prevention happen every day. Alcohol and drug use in the workplace causes many expensive problems, including lost productivity, injuries and an increase in health insurance claims – loss to companies is estimated to be $100 billion a year, according to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI).

According to NCADI statistics, alcohol and drug users are far less productive, use 3X as many sick days, are more likely to injure themselves or someone else, and are 5x more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim. It’s important for the safety of your employees, as well as the health of your company, to establish a drug-free workplace program. Most successful drug-free workplace programs have five key components:

1. A written policy
2. Employee education
3. Supervisor training
4. An employee assistance program (EAP)
5. Drug testing

For an explanation of these, as well as a Drug-Free Workplace Toolkit provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), check out their website. Saying this past year has been a tough year is an understatement. Taking firm steps to help keep your employees safe and healthy should be a priority.

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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

OSHA recommends that employers encourage workers to wear cloth face coverings at work to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and give guidance when workers who wear cloth face coverings in hot and humid environments or while performing strenuous activities indoors find cloth face coverings to be uncomfortable.

Read entire article (pdf) - https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/covid-19-cloth-coverings-indoor-heat.pdf

Workplaces can present unique challenges for COVID-19 investigation and public health action. Because many workplaces can be crowded settings, and many jobs involve a high level of interaction with the public, these settings could allow virus to be spread easily among workers.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/open-america/non-healthcare-work-settings.html

Tagged in: CDC covid-19 covid19

Employers have to follow mask regulations in states that require face coverings in public, but what if employees don’t want to wear one? Can an employer make them wear a mask? The short answer is yes, according to legal experts.

Read entire article - https://www.miamiherald.com/news/coronavirus/article244101092.html

OSHA has a centralized page with commonly asked questions and answers for protecting workers from the coronavirus pandemic, explains an OSHA news release.

Read entire article - https://ohsonline.com/articles/2020/07/08/osha-publishes-frequently-asked-questions-and-answers-for-worker-safety-during-the-pandemic.aspx

Tagged in: covid-19 covid19 OSHA

From the looks of it, COVID-19 may be the way of life for us for quite some time. Keeping your employees as safe and healthy as possible while at work should always be a top priority, and right now, this sentiment is probably weighing heavy on many within your organization and business. While every state will have its own mandates and guidelines, there are some general guidelines you can follow to help you protect your staff and others and slow the spread. Please keep in mind these guidelines are only a sample and not all inclusive, but are a good starting point:

• Create a COVID-19 workplace health and safety plan – the purpose is to provide basic steps to reduce the risk of worker exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. There are templates available online, and here is an example from the Western Michigan University to help you get started.

• If you have not resumed business operations, check the building to see if it’s ready for occupancy – some areas to concentrate on would be checking for hazards associated with prolonged facility shutdown, including mold growth, pests, stagnant water systems which can give rise to Legionella bacteria growth, potentially leading to a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak; and take appropriate corrective actions; check the ventilation systems; increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, as long as this doesn’t pose a safety or health risk for occupants

• Identify where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work – conduct a thorough hazard assessment of the workplace; identify work and common areas where employees have close contact (within 6 feet) with others

• Include ALL employees in communication plans – including any contractors who might work at or visit the business to make sure they understand any new work processes and requirements to prevent transmission of COVID-19

• Develop hazard controls to reduce transmission among workers
-Isolate workers from the hazard including modifying and adjusting seats, furniture, workstations (whenever possible); install transparent shields or other physical barriers when social distancing is not an option; replace high touch communal items, such as coffee pots and bulk snacks with pre-packaged, single-serving items; improve central air filtration and consider using natural ventilation when possible
-Change the way people work including encouraging employees who have symptoms or family members who are home with COVID-19 to stay home for full quarantined time; conduct daily in-person or virtual health checks of employees before they enter the work site; implement a policy to prevent employees from gathering in groups; stagger shifts, start times, break times; post signs in parking areas and entrances to ask guests and visitors to phone from their cars and wear face coverings; clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces often; establish policies and practices for social distancing

Workplace Safety & Health, Inc. is here to help you open up your business and keep it open by providing programs, ideas, and solutions to keeping your employees safe. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

The U.S. agency that enforces workplace safety laws has said it will prioritize work site inspections of healthcare facilities over other “essential” businesses that remain open during the coronavirus outbreak.

Read entire article - https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-workplace/u-s-workplace-safety-agency-will-prioritize-inspection-of-healthcare-facilities-idUSKCN21W2PE

 

On April 10, 2020, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued guidance clarifying certain employers’ recording requirements regarding cases of COVID-19. Under the new guidance, most employers are now exempt from the requirement to record COVID-19 cases of employees for OSHA recordkeeping purposes, absent objective evidence that a case is work-related.

Read entire article: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/osha-issues-guidance-limiting-recordkeeping-requirements-covid-19-cases-certain

Tagged in: covid-19 covid19 OSHA

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