Author Archives: OH&S News

The CDC Announced Recommendations for Office Buildings and COVID-19

The CDC Announced Recommendations for Office Buildings and COVID-19 Workers in office buildings may be at risk for exposure to COVID-19, so ensuring that the building is safe and prepared for in-person work is crucial for the safety of employees. See what the CDC recommends for your office building. Jun 04, 2020 Office building employers, building owners and managers, and building operations specialists can take steps to create a safe and healthy workplace and protect workers and clients. First, the CDC’s office buildings recommendations page suggests by starting with the CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers. Before Resuming Business Operations There are many controls you need to ensure before you can invite your employees back to the office space. You should: Ensure that ventilation systems in your facility operate properly. For building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC systems) that have been shut down or on setback, review new construction start-up guidance provided in ASHRAE Standard 180-2018, Standard Practice for the Inspection and Maintenance of Commercial Building HVAC Systems. Increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, and other methods. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk for current or subsequent occupants, including children (e.g., allowing outdoor environmental contaminants including carbon monoxide, molds, or pollens into the building). Evaluate the building and its mechanical and life safety systems to determine if the building is ready for occupancy. Check for hazards associated with prolonged facility shutdown such as mold growth, rodents or pests, or issues with stagnant water systems, and take appropriate remedial actions. Conduct a thorough hazard assessment of the workplace to identify potential workplace hazards that could increase risks for COVID-19 transmission Identify work and common areas where employees could have close contact (within 6 feet) with others—for example meeting rooms, break rooms, the cafeteria, locker rooms, check-in areas, waiting areas, and routes of entry and exit. Include all employees in the workplace in communication plans—for example management, staff, utility employees, relief employees, janitorial staff, maintenance staff, and supervisory staff. If contractors are employed in the workplace, develop plans to communicate with the contracting company regarding modifications to work processes and requirements for the contractors to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Let's block ads! (Why?)

“Healthier Workplaces. A Healthier World”: AIHA Reveals Its New Brand

“Healthier Workplaces. A Healthier World”: AIHA Reveals Its New Brand At the Virtual AIHce EXP 2020, the American Industrial Hygiene Association unveiled that its brand evolution—titled simply AIHA—will now be tailored to help specifically occupational health and safety science professionals, rather than industrial hygienists. Read the press release below. Jun 02, 2020 Today, on June 1, 2020, the American Industrial Hygiene Association announces its new brand that reflects occupational health and safety science professionals. It has a new logo and a new tagline: “Healthier Workplaces. A Healthier World.” Read the press release below: AIHA’s New Brand Reflects the Future of the Occupational Health & Safety Profession June 1, 2020 (Falls Church, VA)—The American Industrial Hygiene Association unveiled its brand evolution at Virtual AIHce EXP 2020, which better reflects its diverse membership today and looks toward the future of the profession. The new brand includes a new name – simply “AIHA”, a modern logo and tagline: “Healthier Workplaces. A Healthier World.” Additionally, AIHA will now reposition itself as the professional association for occupational health and safety science professionals, rather than industrial hygienists. “Our industry has progressed significantly over the past 80 years. As the premier organization representing our profession we had to evolve to meet the needs of our current and future members as well as the general public,” said AIHA President Kathleen Murphy. “COVID-19 has put a spotlight on our profession and positioned many of our members front and center as experts in occupational health in their workplaces and in the forefront of the country’s public eye. This change to OHS helps the public associate the profession with health and better understand what we do,” she added. The launch of the new brand kicks off AIHA’s campaign to educate employers about the value occupational health and safety scientists bring to a workplace. The educational initiative includes reaching out to employers in the construction, chemical manufacturing and first responder industries and will include others in the future. AIHA has developed specific websites, including www.workerhealthandsafety.org for employers to access information about how to make their workplaces healthy. Let's block ads! (Why?)

OSHA Releases Guidance for Nursing Home and Long-Term Care Facility Workers

OSHA Releases Guidance for Nursing Home and Long-Term Care Facility Workers The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on nursing homes around the country. Not only are many elders falling ill, but many nursing home and care workers are trying to mitigate the responsibilities of their job and others’ safety. Jun 02, 2020 OSHA released workplace and hygiene tips for those working in nursing homes and long-term care facilities: Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick. Screen workers and residents regularly for signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Send sick workers home or to seek medical care. Closely monitor and take additional precautions regarding employees and residents who may have been exposed to an individual with COVID-19. Follow CDC guidance on updating existing resident visitation policies. Ask visitors to inform the facility if they develop a fever or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 within 14 days of their visit. Maintain at least six feet between workers, residents, and visitors, to the extent possible, including while workers perform their duties and during breaks. Stagger break periods to avoid crowding in breakrooms. Consider alternatives to in-person large group gatherings (e.g., staff meetings, resident activities). Always follow good infection prevention and control practices. Consult OSHA’s COVID-19 guidance for healthcare workers and employers. Provide handwashing facilities and alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol throughout facilities. Regularly clean and disinfect shared equipment and frequently touched surfaces in resident rooms, staff work stations, and common areas. Use hospital-grade cleaning chemicals approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from List N or EPA-approved, hospital grade cleaning chemicals that have label claims against the coronavirus. Ensure workers have and use any personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to perform their jobs safely. Continually monitor PPE stocks, burn rate, and supply chains. Develop a process for decontamination and reuse of PPE, such as face shields and goggles, as appropriate. Follow CDC recommendations for optimization of PPE supplies. Train workers about how to protect themselves and residents during the pandemic. Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns. For more information, visit www.osha.gov/coronavirus or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) Let's block ads! (Why?)

Department of Labor Announces $11.5 Million in Worker Safety and Health Training Grants

Department of Labor Announces $11.5 Million in Worker Safety and Health Training Grants The U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA announced the availability of millions of dollars in grants for nonprofit organizations, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, Indian tribes and colleges and universities. Apply by July 20, 2020. Jun 02, 2020 On May 19, 2020, OSHA announced the availability of $11.5 million in Susan Harwood Training Grants. According to an OSHA news release, the Harwood Training Grant program: supports in-person, hands-on training for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness, and fatality rates; and vulnerable workers, who are underserved, have limited English proficiency, or are temporary workers. The grants will fund training and education to help workers and employers identify and prevent workplace and safety hazards—including the coronavirus. The following are funding opportunity categories: Targeted Topic Training grants support educational programs that address identifying and preventing workplace hazards. These grants require applicants to conduct training on OSHA-designated workplace safety and health hazards; Training and Educational Materials Development grants support the development of quality classroom-ready training and educational materials that focus on identifying and preventing workplace hazards; and Capacity Building grants support organizations in developing new capacity for conducting workplace safety and health training programs and must provide training and education based on identified needs of a specific audience or a set of related topics. More information on the grants and how to apply are available at www.grants.gov. To be considered for a funding opportunity, you must apply by 11:59 p.m. EDT on July 20, 2020. For more information on qualifications and details, see the OSHA news release. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Five Restroom Upgrades to Improve Hand Washing and Minimize Germs

Five Restroom Upgrades to Improve Hand Washing and Minimize Germs In a COVID-19 world, social distancing and washing your hands are two of the most important safety measures. However, enforcing that in public and workplace bathrooms might be challenge. May 29, 2020 With many essential workers already at work and many others soon to be back in offices, companies and organizations have a big feat to face in the post-pandemic age: keeping bathrooms sanitary and employees distant. Of course, cleaning bathrooms and washing your hands are always a given. Bathrooms are hot spots for germs, and it only makes sense to clean them regularly. However, as employees will be expected to keep a distance from one another and wash their hands often, how can facilities minimize contamination and the spreading of disease? Bradley Corp has come out with another study on handwashing—but this time, it looks at how facilities can address bathrooms and handwashing in a COVID-19 world. Read the press release below for Bradley Corp’s five biggest, recommended actions: Menomonee Falls, WI (May 27, 2020) – The rapid spread of COVID-19 has made an unprecedented and indelible mark on how our society responds to potential germ exposure, raising new questions around the hygienic and safe usage of public restrooms. In a matter of weeks, the pandemic caused a major uptick in hand washing, taught us the virtues of social distancing and elevated our awareness of hand-to-surface contact. “As businesses and public establishments reopen and Americans return to using facilities, all eyes are on public restrooms,” says Jon Dommisse, director of strategy and corporate development, Bradley Corp., a global manufacturer of restroom equipment. “Today’s commercial washroom will be of paramount importance in providing hand washing systems and supplies, and mitigating sickness-causing germs.” Dommisse offers several considerations for keeping restrooms clean, maintained, well-equipped and prepared for a healthy hand washing experience: 1. Post signage. Reinforce cleanliness with friendly reminders about washing hands for 20 seconds per Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, maintaining safe distances between users, throwing away paper towels, etc. The Healthy Hand Washing Survey by Bradley Corp. shows that 40 percent of Americans increase hand washing when signs are posted. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Five Things to Know about Hazards of Radioactivity

Five Things to Know about Hazards of Radioactivity There are many factors to consider when saying “radioactivity is hazardous.” Here is an attempt to summarize them in five points. By Brett RosenbergMay 28, 2020 Radiation is not an age-old reality; in fact, the discovery of radiation is fairly recent. Becquerel, whose name is now used as a unit for an amount of radioactivity, discovered in 1896 that uranium salts were emitting energy. In the early 1900s, he discovered medical uses for radioactivity. Soon, scientists began studying the various uses radioactive elements including the medical field and industrial fields, like with radioluminescent dials and, of course, its potential as a weapon. Then came the first atomic bomb. We entered the atomic age in the 1940s following World War I, and the amount of research that was conducted in the decades to follow did not reach the public as quickly as the media. Godzilla in the 1950s, comic book characters like the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk in the 1960s, the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, and the orphan radiotherapy source in Goiânia in 1987 all paint a gruesome picture of radioactivity: radiation causes mutations and horrible deaths. The assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 by a radioactive isotope of polonium further proves the point, right? Radiation is just like any other substance – the dose makes the poison. There is water all around you, but too much of it can kill you. There is a similar philosophy for medications in that too much of something will exceed a therapeutic dose and result in a lethal dose. We live in a sea of radioactivity, although some people receive more than others. People who live at higher altitudes receive higher doses from cosmic radiation, and those who live in areas with natural uranium deposits get higher doses from radon. Airline pilots receive even higher doses from cosmic radiation because there is less atmosphere shielding them. Miners have been evaluated for lung cancer because of their higher exposures to radon, although the prevalence of smoking among them complicates the evaluations. We have incorporated the use of radioactive americium in smoke detectors, tritium in exit signs and thorium in lantern mantles. There is uranium in the ceramic glaze of Fiestaware, and radioactive cesium in game meat because of fallout from weapons testing. Radiation, both natural and man-made, is everywhere, but we have not been able to observe adverse health effects at current regulatory levels. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Eight Ways to Go Out During the Pandemic and Stay Safe

Eight Ways to Go Out During the Pandemic and Stay Safe People are starting to loosen their social distancing practices and mask wearing—but the pandemic is not over. Here are some tips on how to go out while staying as safe as possible. May 27, 2020 It’s been two, almost three months since the first stay-at-home orders. Summer is approaching, and people are getting tired of staying inside. Support for social distancing is decreasing, and cellphone data shows people are beginning to leave their homes. Most states are beginning to open their economies, ready or not. At the beginning, experts’ guidance was absolute, says one Vox article. People were told to stay home and avoid interacting with anyone you don’t live with. Now, with a vaccine who-knows-how-far away, people are leaving their homes and saying we need to focus on harm-reduction techniques. There’s no question that keeping people indoors is the most effective way to manage the spread of a disease. However, people are beginning to abandon that recommendation—either because they cannot or will not follow it anymore. Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard, compared the choice to the idea of abstinence versus advising on safe sex during the worst of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Completely avoiding sex would keep someone safe from HIV, but given that most people won’t do that, it’s better to give them the tools to practice sex as safely as possible. “There’s been a polarization between two purported options of staying home indefinitely…versus going back to business as usual,” Marcus told me. “The idea of harm reduction gives us a way of thinking about risk as a continuum and thinking about the middle ground between those two options.” Let's block ads! (Why?)

Food Safety During a Pandemic: An Expert Weighs In

Food Safety During a Pandemic: An Expert Weighs In Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine shared an article on food safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, and you might want to check out some of their tips. May 26, 2020 Food safety continues to be a main topic of conversation within during the COVID-19 era. With delivery services, restaurants beginning to reopen and a number of meat plants (in the U.S. and Canada) dealing with outbreaks among their workers, it is no wonder concerns about food safety on behalf of employers, retailers and consumers are flying. Ebrahim Noroozi, food scientist and occupational health and safety specialist with McGill’s Department of Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry, shared his findings with Canadian Occupational Safety (COS): “While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in US has not found evidence that COVID-19 has been transmitted through meat or poultry, public health officials have said that coronavirus strains can live at live and freezing temperatures on food packaging. And so much about the risks of COVID-19 are uncertain and evolving that companies need to be on their toes.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reduced the number of inspections during the outbreak, but that does not limit the liability of executives if outbreaks (of COVID-19, salmonella, E-coli or other) reach the consumer. Recently, the Canadian government released guidance for manufacturers, including those operating in the food sector, on how to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19 in workers in these environments. Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) have made many resources available online, including PPE best practices, employee re-integration for larger groups and guidelines for workers’ psychological health and safety. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Motor Vehicle Fatality Rates Up 14 Percent in March, Despite COVID-19

Motor Vehicle Fatality Rates Up 14 Percent in March, Despite COVID-19 A recent report from the National Safety Council (NSC) shares some surprising and tragic news: fatalities from motor vehicle crashes jumped 14 percent in the month of March despite quarantines. May 22, 2020 As it turns out, the empty roads during the COVID-19 pandemic are riskier than before. According to a news release from NSC, while Americans have been driving less and covering fewer miles, the amount of motor vehicle deaths has increased in some places. Early data indicates a year-over-year 14 percent jump in fatality rates per miles driven in March, in spite of an 8 percent drop in the total number of roadway deaths compared to March 2019. The number of miles driven dropped 8.6 percent compared to the same time period last year. Still, the mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven was 1.22 in March compared to 1.07 in March 2019. The following states have seen an increase in roadway deaths within the first three months of 2020: Arkansas (16 percent), California (8 percent), Connecticut (42 percent), Illinois (11 percent), Louisiana (23 percent), Nevada (10 percent), New York (17 percent), North Carolina (10 percent), Oklahoma (9 percent), Tennessee (6 percent) and Texas (6 percent). The following states have seen decreases: Arizona (-4 percent), Hawaii (-32 percent), Idaho (-28 percent), Iowa (-13 percent), Maryland (-13 percent), Michigan (-12 percent), Oregon (-24 percent) and South Carolina (-12 percent). Unfortunately, many people die from roadway accidents during holiday weekends, including Memorial Day weekend (Friday, May 22—Monday, May 25). Last year, the NSC estimated that 380 people would die on the road for 2019’s Memorial Day weekend, and an additional 43,300 may be injured. This year, NSC estimates 366 potential fatalities. If the estimate holds, it will be the lowest number of fatalities for the holiday period since 2014. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Is it Allergies or the Coronavirus?

Is it Allergies or the Coronavirus? Pollen is in the air—and that means it’s allergy season. During the pandemic, however, it can be hard to tell the difference between your average allergy and the coronavirus. May 21, 2020 With allergy season up and running in the during the coronavirus pandemic, many are wondering how to tell the difference between allergy symptoms and coronavirus signs. Allergists offer some advice on how to tell which one might be bothering you. Typical symptoms of seasonal allergies include itchy eyes, itchy nose, sneezing, runny nose and post-nasal drip. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, diarrhea and, sometimes, a sore throat, explains a WebMD piece. The biggest fact in differentiating the two are the “itchy” symptoms: the itchy eyes, itchy nose and sneezing. Some combination of those are likely due to allergies, not the coronavirus. While some people with coronavirus might be asymptomatic, here is a breakdown of symptoms between the two, according to another article: Allergies: sneezing running or stuffy nose water and itchy eyes itchy sinuses, throat or ear canals ear congestion postnasal drainage rarely: headache, shortness of breath and coughing Coronavirus: cough shortness of breath fever chills muscle pain sore throat loss of taste or smell Other less common symptoms of coronavirus have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, says the CDC. If you are unsure about if you have coronavirus or allergies, ask your doctor. Also, anyone exhibiting coronavirus symptoms should self-quarantine immediately and alert those they have been in contact with within the last two weeks. Let's block ads! (Why?)