When collecting employee health information during the pandemic, be transparent about how the data will be used, disclosed and retained.
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Workplace Safety & Health Company IH consultants are trained to inventory and assess confined spaces of various types and sizes.
Industrial Hygienists may wear Hazmat or other chemical protective clothing when evaluating highly hazardous atmospheres or environments.
An IH consultant uses sound level meters to assess noise levels in industrial environments.
Industrial Hygienists place noise dosimeters on factory employees to monitor employee exposure to noise levels.
Lockout/tagout involves assessing a machine’s operation and identifying all energy sources.
Tagout of electrical switches in a control room warns employees not to start equipment.
An Industrial Hygienist uses an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer to determine lead-based paint concentrations on a facility’s exterior.
We do air sampling for airborne contaminants using sorbent tubes.
Industrial Hygienists use a filter cassette equipped with a cyclone to collect respirable dust samples.
When collecting employee health information during the pandemic, be transparent about how the data will be used, disclosed and retained.
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
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.
Workplace safety is a pretty hot topic in 2020. While our country continues to deal the COVID-19 pandemic, and we start to see many states start to peak again both in cases and hospital admissions, employers and businesses are working hard to navigate this new normal while trying to stay open, stay afloat in too many cases and be profitable.
A new global study shows 35% of employees and business leaders wish their offices had closed faster and safety measures for essential workers had been implemented sooner. This same survey, conducted by The Workforce Institute, showed only 20% of the workforce felt their organization met their needs during the initial months of the pandemic, but that 33% of employees globally say they trust their employer more now than before the pandemic began because of how their organizations responded. Moving forward into the last quarter of 2020 and into 2021, employers are encouraged to keep their employees’ needs and concerns in the forefront.
Surprisingly, when we think of the number one concern in the workplace during the pandemic, it isn’t having a clean and healthy workplace – it’s job security, flexibility and work-life harmony. Many are concerned about future layoffs or furloughs due to the uncertainty created by COVID-19. Many who are working say they are working either the same or more hours regularly since the start of the pandemic, and there is a concern among employees and employers of fatigue and burnout. Taking some measures to guard against burnout will go a long way with your employees.
Almost half of the surveyed employees felt quick notification of confirmed workplace cases was a top concern. Another surprise is the younger generations (Generation Z and younger Millennials) are most concerned about this. Quick notification and contact tracing can help put minds at ease.
Even though job security and quick notification of confirmed cases were the top priorities, workplace cleanliness came in a close third. Keeping in mind the workplace layout – is there the opportunity to socially distance? What safety measures have been put in place and enforced – mask wearing, hand sanitizing stations, scheduled deep cleanings, limited shared common areas and workplaces, including kitchens, bathrooms, and conference rooms?
Employees are looking for more frequent and transparent communication from their leaders during this time. The good news is that among the 33% of the employees who trust their organizations more now than before the pandemic, 70% say the company went above and beyond in their COVID-19 response. The bad news is there are many employees who are not as trusting right now. It’s time to build that trust, and putting the employee first and getting back to the basic needs every employee requires (physical safety, job stability, and flexibility) are steps to help engage your workforce and help your business succeed during these challenging times.
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.
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
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. Department of Labor announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a new video and poster for employers and workers on how to properly wear and remove a respirator.
For workers who may need to use respirators to protect themselves from coronavirus exposure, a properly worn respirator can help reduce the wearer's risk of viral exposure and help prevent its spread to others.
Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/national/05052020
OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers and workplaces during these unprecedented times. The agency will be issuing a series of industry-specific alerts designed to help keep workers safe.
Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA4017.pdf
This guidance is intended for all Americans, whether you own a business, run a school, or want to ensure the cleanliness and safety of your home. Reopening America requires all of us to move forward together by practicing social distancing and other daily habits to reduce our risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html
National Safety Month is observed every June to educate organizations and communities while encouraging safe behaviors around the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths. Right now, our country is dealing with a pandemic – a crisis like we haven’t dealt with possibly ever that is affecting so many lives and the economy. When thinking about safety nowadays, what many are thinking is how do we ensure the safe return to work and continue to keep our employees safe?
The National Safety Council released a framework summary for employers based on the recommendations from the SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns task force. The task force identified the following six critical areas employers must prioritize as they consider reopening and returning employees to traditional work environments:
• Physical Environments
• Medical Issues
• Stress, Emotional and Mental Health
• Employment and Human Resources
• Communication Needs
• External Considerations
Employers are required to make sure they provide a safe workplace, and when considering the physical environment, Workplace Safety can help by making sure your workplace has been tested and cleared for the COVID-19 and ensure safety processes are in place to keep your workplace safer. Please check out last month’s blog, Opening Back Up COVID-19 Free (hyperlink), for an overview of our services to ensure your business has been deemed COVID-19-free.
Workplace Safety is ready to help keep your most important assets – 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.
The last couple months have been unprecedented times with many businesses having to shut completely down or at least scale back considerably for the health and safety of our citizens. At some point, you as a business owner will decide it’s time to re-open, and we are seeing these steps being taken in some industries right now, including the auto industry.
How the United States will go from widespread quarantine to what is being called the “new normal” will most likely happen in waves. Even though we are unsure what this will really look like, what we can definitely speculate is there will be plenty of apprehension with our employees, and if our business is consumer-focused, such as restaurants or retail stores, for our customers as well.
Employers’ back-to-work plans will vary considerably depending on geography. Areas that saw fewer confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths will have a much easier time convincing workers it is safe to return to work than those cities hit much harder.
Employers have a duty under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to make sure they provide a safe workplace. One step employers can do no matter what industry is give their employees and their customers some peace of mind by making sure their workplace has been tested and cleared for the COVID-19, and new processes are in place including ongoing cleaning and sanitizing, keeping workers more separated, continuing to wear masks, limiting in-person meetings and even taking employee temperatures when entering facilities.
As you begin looking at specific protocol to ensure the safety of your business, Workplace Safety & Health Co has a program to help you deemed your workplace free from COVID-19. Here is a brief overview of our services:
1. Visually inspect the premises for obvious contamination;
2. Determine through interviews and observations which surfaces are most commonly touched, worked at, used by your employees, etc.;
3. Devise a strategy to select surfaces to sample for the presence or absence of COVID-19;
4. Collect environmental swab samples following specific handling protocol;
5. Send samples to an accredited laboratory;
6. Generate a full report, including but not limited to results and recommendations;
7. Oversee cleaning, if required, and
8. Retest until results are satisfactory.
Re-opening our economy sooner rather than later is a goal we all are hoping for, but we must take steps to ensure our employees and customers trust we are doing whatever we can to keep them safe. Workplace Safety & Health is ready to help you do just that – 317-253-9737.
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.