vial, covid-19, coronavirus vaccine ampoule, bottle for injection with syringe

COVID Vaccine – 8 Things to Know about Vaccine Planning

With Thanksgiving now over and Christmas fast approaching, many health officials are sounding the alarm. In Rhode Island, officials prepared to use field hospitals after telling residents their systems were already at capacity.

Many people traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday, hospitals, already reporting high numbers of cases, are expecting to see a continued surge in COVID-19 cases. As of December 2, 2020, the United States has confirmed more than 13.6 million cases since the pandemic began, with over 270,000 recorded deaths.

With this surge, many states are considering or have implemented new restrictions and have issued updated stay-at-home advisories.

While the next few months will be difficult for many, there is hope and light at the end of this tunnel.

Many pharmaceutical companies have released positive results for a COVID vaccine, and some are now in the hands of the FDA awaiting approval for public use. The federal government, through Operation Warp Speed, has been working with these companies to make vaccines available, quickly, and safely.

COVID-19 Vaccines – What you need to know

Since the vaccines have been developed and almost ready for distribution and use, many people fear the vaccine was rushed and may not be safe. The CDC recently released information to keep people informed about the vaccine, and the planning protocols.

With the possibility of one or more COVID-19 vaccines becoming available before the end of the year, here are 8 things you need to know about where those plans currently stand.

The information below is directly from the CDC website:

  1. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority.
    The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Learn how federal partners are working together to ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
  2. Many vaccines are being developed and tested, but some might be ready before others.
    CDC is working with partners at all levels, including healthcare associations, on flexible COVID-19 vaccination programs that can accommodate different vaccines and scenarios. CDC has been in contact with your state public health department to help with your state’s planning. State, tribal, local, and territorial health departments are critical to making sure vaccines are available to communities.
  3. At least at first, COVID-19 vaccines might be used under an Emergency Use Authorization.
    Learn more about Emergency Use Authorization and watch a video on what an EUA is.
  4. There may be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of 2020, but supply will continually increase in the weeks and months that follow.
    The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. The plan is to have several thousand vaccination providers available, including doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers.
  5. If there is limited supply, some groups may be recommended to get a COVID-19 vaccine first.

Experts are working on how to distribute these limited vaccines in a fair, ethical, and transparent way.

  1. At first, COVID-19 vaccines may not be recommended for children.

In early clinical trials for various COVID-19 vaccines, only non-pregnant adults participated. However, clinical trials continue to expand those recruited to participate. The groups recommended to receive the vaccines could change in the future.

  1. Cost will not be an obstacle to getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccine providers will be able to charge administration fees for giving or administering the shot to someone.

  1. COVID-19 vaccine planning is being updated as new information becomes available.

CDC will continue to update this website as plans develop.

We’re Here to Help

In these challenging times, the risk of exposure is more prevalent than ever. We offer the following safety service options:

COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.

COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.

COVID19 TESTING – We now offer COVID-19 Testing Services For Colleges, Universities, Private Companies, And Public Agencies

If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.

A happy family have a thanksgiving dinner and sends a video greeting to their parents by internet.

Thanksgiving and COVID-19: What you need to know

Thanksgiving is almost here!

For many, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friend and share a hearty meal. It’s also a time to give thanks for all the good in your life, and to remember those who provided joy. Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings are usually large and long events. Many people come from different parts of the country, and the world, to spend the day, or a few days, together.

This year, with COVID cases on the rise, Thanksgiving will undoubtedly look, and feel, different.

Many states and health organizations are concerned with the sharp uptick in recent COVID positive cases and hospitalization, and due to these concerns, have imposed restrictions on travel and gatherings. In fact, many are recommending people not travel this year and are asking people to limit in-person events to help reduce the risk of exposure and the spread of the virus.

Of course, people are free to make their own decision about their Thanksgiving plans. However, until there is vaccine and until it is widely available, adhering to state and CDC guidelines can help everyone in the fight to eliminate this virus.

Thanksgiving and COVID-19 – Tips to Stay Safe

With that in mind, here are some tips to follow to help reduce your risk getting and spreading the virus:

  • Check your community – Family and friends should consider the number of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when deciding whether to host or attend a gathering. Areas with high or increasing numbers should be avoided.
  • Travel plans – Many states are recommending that people do not travel for the holiday. However, if you are planning to travel, or have guest traveling to you, keep in mind that airports, bus stations, train stations, public transport, gas stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces. Some states have imposed restrictions and quarantine requirements for those visiting from out-of-state, so be sure to check the guidelines before making travel plans.
  • Location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings are considered a higher risk of virus spread than outdoor gatherings. If you plan to hold Thanksgiving in your home, be sure to:
    • limit the number of guests (some states have added new restrictions, the CDC recommends keeping the guest list to 6),
    • open windows for ventilation,
    • consider using disposable utensils,
    • designate one person as the meal server to avoid any potential cross-contamination,
    • wear masks
    • maintain social distance
    • practice proper hygiene and hand washing
  • Duration of the gathering – Though traditional Thanksgiving gatherings tend to be day-long events with family and friends, this year is different. Many health officials, including the CDC are asking people to limit to length of gatherings. The longer the event lasts, the higher the risk. So, if possible, limit your event as much as possible.

Keep in mind, being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more greatly increases the risk of becoming sick and requires a 14-day quarantine. Also, since many people may be asymptomatic, it becomes very difficult to know who has or will become infected.

  • Number of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. It is recommended to only hold Thanksgiving with people in your household to reduce the chances of getting or spreading the virus. If you do have family members and friends attend from outside your household, be sure to consider the ability of attendees to maintain social distance (6 feet (2 arm lengths apart), make sure everyone wear masks, wash hands regularly, and follow health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.

 Who should not attend in-person holiday gatherings?

If your family member or guests or even yourself, have recently tested positive for COVID-19 or are awaiting testing results or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, then that person should not attend Thanksgiving in-person.  The risk of exposing other people, especially those with increased risk of serious illness and compromised immune systems, needs to be considered as these people are at a higher risk.

Individuals who are not consistently adhering to CDC and state safety recommendations and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than those who consistently practicing these safety measures. If you know people who are attending Thanksgiving in-person who fall into this category, you may want to reconsider either attending the event or inviting them to your event.

We’re Here to Help

Protecting yourself and others by following the CDC’s recommended safety protocols can help reduce the risk of contracting the virus or spreading it to others.

In these challenging times, the risk of exposure is more prevalent than ever. We offer the following safety service options:

COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.

COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.

COVID19 TESTING – We now offer COVID-19 Testing Services For Colleges, Universities, Private Companies, And Public Agencies

If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.

 

Virus Covid 19 crisis Staff check fever by digital thermometer visitor before entering the work for scan and protect from Coronavirus or COVID-19, Engineer and factory concept at container yard

Rise in Coronavirus Cases Results in New Restrictions

Early results of an effective COVID-19 vaccine have the world buzzing. The thoughts of eventually returning to a normal life may be closer than we think. Though the vaccine has some hurdles to still meet, including production, distribution, storage, and administering the vaccine, hopes are high.

However, many feel the vaccine may not be widely available well into 2021. And the major concern now is the staggering increase in new cases across the country.

According to the New York Times database, as of November 10th, more than 10,260,600 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 239,500 have died.

With the Fall and flu season beginning and businesses and schools re-opening,  COVID-19 cases are sure to continue to rise at an alarming rate.

New COVID Cases, New Restrictions

Locally, in Massachusetts, there are currently 23,702 active COVID-19 cases, and the 7-day average positivity rata at 2.67%. Rhode Island is also seeing and increase and have reported 38,798 cases to date.

Due to the rapid increase of cases, many states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island have added new restrictions and issued updated stay-at-home advisories that have gone into effect.

MA recently ordered a revised stay-at-home advisory, effective between the hours of 10pm and 5am. The new stay-at-home-advisory includes the following:

  • Only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs such as seeking emergency medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up take-out food, or receiving deliveries. If you do leave home, practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from others and wearing a face covering.
  • No in-home gatherings with anybody outside of your household. Indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people.
  • Wearing face coverings
  • Early closure of businesses.
  • Practice proper hygiene and surface cleaning.
  • Use remote modes of communication instead of visiting friends or family.

Businesses were also included in this new advisory and includes closing at 9:30pm. This includes restaurants, liquor stores, gyms, and movie theaters

In Rhode Island, the restrictions are similar. Businesses can remain open until 10:00pm weekdays, 10:30pm weekends.

Staying Safe – Steps You Can Take

Now, more than ever, it’s important to remember the recommended CDC steps to take to help stay safe and stop the spread of this virus:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wear a mask
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces

Taking these steps is critical to preventing the spread of the virus, protecting the lives of you and your loved ones, and preserving our acute care hospital and other health care systems’ capacity.

We’re Here to Help

In these challenging times, the risk of exposure is more prevalent than ever. We offer the following safety service options:

COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.

COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.

COVID19 TESTING – We now offer COVID-19 Testing Services For Colleges, Universities, Private Companies, And Public Agencies

If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.

Take The COVID-19 Test Pledge

Take the COVID-19 Testing Pledge

As the country experiences an unprecedented increase in COVID-19 related cases, it’s critical that we remain vigilant in our efforts to help stop the spread.

While the CDC’s recommended steps to stay safe; social distancing, mask wearing, proper hygiene, hand washing, and avoiding large gatherings, are important, another key step to take is getting tested.

While earlier this year tests were hard to come by, many states have expanded access to testing, and Boston is one of them. In fact, Boston has begun a new awareness campaign to let residents know and to encourage all residents to get tested and has launched “Get The Test Boston,” a pledge designed to encourage residents to get a COVID-19 test.

How it Works

Testing is available to all residents, and even though you may not be going outside of your home for work or other reasons, you may still have been exposed. Keep in mind, according to the CDC, even people showing no symptoms can still be infected with COVID-19 and transmit the virus.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. The most common method to acquire COVID-19 is through direct contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19. So, if you think you may be at risk – get tested.

Get Involved – Join the COVID-19 Testing Pledge

The City of Boston has recently initiated the COVID-19 Testing Pledge and is encouraging all businesses and residents to join.

The City of Boston is asking businesses to provide the following resources employees need to get tested, stop the spread of COVID-19, and avoid a setback in the reopening process.

Encourage all employees to consider getting tested, even if they don’t have symptoms, especially:

  • anyone who may be experiencing COVID-like symptoms
  • those at high risk for complications
  • people in close contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19, and
  • anyone who has traveled or been in large gatherings.

For all residents, testing centers and mobile locations are provided here and here.

Testing at the City of Boston’s mobile testing sites is completely free. Test for symptomatic individuals is also free.

At certain standing testing sites, the cost of asymptomatic tests may vary depending on your insurance provider. For City of Boston employees with either BCBS, Harvard Pilgrim, or Allways health plans, asymptomatic tests are not a covered benefit, but the mobile testing options are available to all.

Ready to take the COVID-19 Testing Pledge? You can join many other Boston area businesses like Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, Stop & Shop, and Wayfair, to name a few, by signing up today.

We’re Here to Help

Protecting yourself and others by following the CDC’s recommended safety protocols and joining the “Get The Test Boston” pledge can help reduce the risk of contracting the virus or spreading it to others.

In these challenging times, the risk of exposure is more prevalent than ever. We can also help with the following safety services:

COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.

COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.

COVID19 TESTING – We now offer COVID-19 Testing Services For Colleges, Universities, Private Companies, And Public Agencies

If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.

 

Lighted Carved Jack-o-Lantern dressed up for Halloween with COVID Pandemic face mask

COVID Safety Tips for a Safe Halloween

COVID cases are on the rise, the economy is trying to recover, natural disasters are a major concern for most of the US, and the Presidential election is almost here.

Luckily, so is Halloween.

This year, Halloween might be the right holiday, at the right time, to relax and try to have some fun.

For many Halloween is a day of tricks and treats, not only for kids but for many adults. It’s a time to be someone (or something) different, to dress up in silly costumes, tell scary stories, enjoy the fun of being scared, and sharing time with family and friends (social distanced, of course).

Though this year is a quite different from other years, it’s still ok to enjoy Halloween.

However you plan to celebrate this year, there are some steps you can take to make sure you’re safe and help keep others safe, as well.

Steps to Take when Trick or Treating

Traditional Halloween activities are fun, but some can increase the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19.  In fact, many states may have imposed restrictions on traditional treat-or-treating and other Halloween-related activities. If you’re planning on attending any events this year, be sure to contact your local government before committing.

Even Salem, MA, known not only for the infamous Salem Witch Trials but also as a popular Halloween destination, has had to cancel or scale back many planned activities.

Whatever your plans are for Halloween, the CDC provides tips everyone can take to keep safe.

Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters.

  • Hand out candy while wearing gloves.
  • Give out treats outdoors, if possible.
  • Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take.

Wear a mask

  • Make your cloth mask part of your costume.
  • A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask.
  • Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult.
  • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing

Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you

  • Indoors and outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others for a long time.

Wash your hands

  • Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Parents: supervise young children using hand sanitizer.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.

Other Halloween Activities to Consider

If you feel unsafe with traditional trick-or-treating, or your town has cancelled it altogether, there are still many fun activities you do while home, you just need to be a bit more creative.

Here’s a list of things you can do with your family:

  • Treat-or-treat in your house
  • Carve a pumpkin, or two
  • Binge-watch scary movies – the original Halloween movie anyone?
  • Set up a video call with family to show off your costume or hold a party
  • Make some fun, spooky drinks (for kids and for adults)

You get the idea.

We’re Here to Help

Remember – Halloween is a great time to have some fun. So, if possible, be with your family, and be sure to keep safe.

Protecting yourself and others by following the CDC’s recommended safety protocols can help reduce the risk of contracting the virus or spreading it to others.

In these challenging times, the risk of exposure is more prevalent than ever. We can also help with the following safety services:

COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.

COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.

COVID19 TESTING – We now offer COVID-19 Testing Services For Colleges, Universities, Private Companies, And Public Agencies

If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.

fire exit emergency plan

Emergency Planning for Colleges, Universities and Businesses in a COVID World

Keeping Universities, Schools, and Businesses free from COVID-19 requires diligence, and a proper plan.

School administrators and business owners need to plan and prepare for reopening or keeping schools and businesses open. Regardless of the number of current cases in a community, there should be a plan in place to protect staff and students from the spread of COVID-19.

Though many Universities and College have initiated virtual-only learning options, activities, and events, there are times where maintain proper safety is still a concern. The risk of COVID-19 spread increases in non-residential (i.e., off-campus housing) and residential (i.e., on-campus housing) settings is still a concern.

And as businesses continue to remain open, and states allowing more people into these establishments, the risk of acquiring and or spreading the virus remains high.

In either environment, it makes sense to follow CDC guidelines of mask wearing, social distancing, and proper hand hygiene. Until there is a vaccine available for all, and even when one is readily available, now is the perfect time to either review and update or get started on a more formal Emergency Plan. With this in place, Universities, Colleges, and Business can mitigate the risk of spreading COVID and keep students, faculty, and staff safe.

The Planning Process

Effective emergency management planning and development is not done alone. The make an effective plan, it is critical to work with community partners including first responders (e.g., law enforcement officers, fire officials, EMS personnel), emergency managers, public health officials, and mental health officials as well as with other local governmental officials and community organizations.

There are many ways to develop an emergency plan. It should be flexible enough to easily adapt to the unique characteristics and situations of each University, College, and business setting.

Below is a process provided by multiple federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to help develop a plan, do a comprehensive review of an existing plan or conduct periodic and incremental reviews of a current plan.

The guide provides the following 6 Step Planning Process:

Step 1: Form a Collaborative Planning Team

The first step is to identify the core planning team members. This will help when forming a common framework in which each team member learns the other team members roles and culture. To facilitate effective planning, roles and responsibilities will need to be defined and assigned based on each team member’s skillset. Once this is established it is important to determine a regular schedule of meetings to reinforce the plan.

Step 2: Understand the Situation

Once the planning team identifies possible threats and hazards, it now needs to assess the risk and vulnerabilities posed by those threats and hazards. There are numerous assessments that the planning team may use, including site assessments, culture and climate assessments, behavioral threat assessments, and capacity assessments. With this information, the plan can review and prioritize these threats and hazards to establish a course of action to take if the situation arises.

Step 3: Determine Goals and Objectives

From here, the planning team can decide which of the threats and hazards identified in Step 2 will be addressed in the plan. Hazards that rank “high” in risk priority will likely be a top priority but threats and hazards that rank “medium” may also warrant a response plan. This is a critical decision in the planning process, and it is recommended that the plan address all threats and hazards, not just those in the “high” category.

Step 4: Plan Development (Identifying Courses of Action)

In this step, courses of actions for accomplishing each of the objectives identified in Step 3 (for threats, hazards, and functions) is addressed. Courses of action address the what, who, when, where, why, how for each threat, hazard, and function.

Step 5: Prepare, Review, and Approve the Plan

In Step 5, the planning team develops a draft using the courses of action developed in Step 4. This is where the plan should be in writing so everyone can review and make sure it follows any applicable laws. Once this is complete, share the plan with leadership to attain approval.

Step 6: Implement and Maintain the Plan

Everyone involved in the plan needs to know their roles and responsibilities before, during and after an emergency. Key training components include the following:

  • Hold a meeting – At least once a year, hold a meeting to educate all parties on the plan. Go through the plan to familiarize these stakeholders with it.
  • Exercise the plan – prepare certain types exercises to reinforce the plan. Whether that’s with drills, functional exercises, to full-scare preparedness exercises.
  • Review and revise the plan – Make changes as needed

We’re Here to Help

Implementing an Emergency Plan can be a daunting task. If you feel you could use help getting started, please contact us.

Protecting yourself and others by following the CDC’s recommended safety protocols can help reduce the risk of contracting the virus or spreading it to others.

In these challenging times, the risk of exposure is more prevalent than ever. We can also help with the following safety services:

COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.

COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.

COVID19 TESTING – We now offer COVID-19 Testing Services For Colleges, Universities, Private Companies, And Public Agencies

If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.

OSHA inspection

OSHA COVID Related Fines Are on the Rise

According to the CDC, there are now a reported 7,835,007 cases, with 215,194 deaths, and some are concerned the end is nowhere in sight. Pharmaceutical companies are racing to find a vaccine but with the upcoming flu season and the holidays fast approaching, experts agree there is cause for concern.

Another factor to consider – COVID fatigue.

Not the fatigue one feels as a symptom, but the physiological burnout people are experiencing with constant diligence for safety precautions. John Hopkins Medicine recently wrote an article about the reasons why this happens and some step to take to stay the course.

And as people have returned to school and businesses continue to remain open, now is not the time to let our collective guards down.

OSHA COVID-Related Fines

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through October 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited 62 establishments for violations, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $913,133.

OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:

  • Implement a written respiratory protection program;
  • Provide a medical evaluation, respirator fit test, training on the proper use of a respirator and personal protective equipment;
  • Report an injury, illness or fatality;
  • Record an injury or illness on OSHA recordkeeping forms; and
  • Comply with the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

OSHA has already announced citations relating to 37 establishments, which can be found at dol.gov/newsroom.

In addition to those establishments, there have been an additional 25 establishments that have received coronavirus-related citations totaling $429,064 from OSHA relating to one or more of the above violations from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, 2020.

Complaints by Selected Essential Industry

Without proper training, any business has the potential to be cited by OSHA for COVID related complaints.

The graph below shows the number of OSHA COVID-related complaints based on broad industry types across the United States.

 

Each state has reported complaints, as well. In May, there were a reported 900 formal complaints filed against Massachusetts businesses from workers alleging failures to adequately protect them from COVID-19 risks.

The number of complaints continues to rise. As of October 12th, the states of MA, RI, CT, NH, and VT had a combined 1,550 COVID related complaints against companies.

Not surprising, the highest number of complaints were against healthcare related business, mainly nursing homes. A Georgetown, MA dentist practice was fined by OSHA $9,500 for six serious and one other-than-serious violations. OSHA also alleges Hartford HealthCare, through its Natchaug Hospital, failed to properly log eight work-related cases of COVID-19 dating back to March and has been fined $13,500.

Keeping Your Business Safe

We’ve written numerous blogs regarding ways to help keep your business and employees safe. You can view a few here:

We’re Here to Help

Protecting yourself and others by following the CDC’s recommended safety protocols can help reduce the risk of contracting the virus or spreading it to others.

In these challenging times, the risk of exposure is more prevalent than ever. We offer the following safety service options:

COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.

COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.

COVID19 TESTING – We now offer COVID-19 Testing Services For Colleges, Universities, Private Companies, And Public Agencies

If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.

 

Multi-ethnic group of people wearing masks voting at polling station on post-pandemic election day, copy space

5 Essential Tips to Voting Safely During COVID-19

The Presidential Election is only a few short weeks away. Though the past few months has been unorthodox to say the least; the COVID pandemic, economic turmoil, and natural disaster, it’s important to remember voting is important. If fact, it’s essential to our democracy. The outcome will undoubtedly shape the future of our country.

Health concerns with in-person voting add another layer to this complex world we now live in. With this in mind, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued special COVID-19 safety recommendations for voters.

While the safety protocols are the same common practices already in place, such as: mask wearing; maintaining social distance; using hand sanitizer often; avoiding touching your face; and thorough hand washing, the CDC has a few special voting-day recommendations to consider.

Recommendations for Voters

  • Practice healthy behaviors to protect yourself and slow the spread of COVID-19
    • Wash your hands before entering and after leaving the polling location.
    • Wear a mask.
    • Consider wearing gloves. Voting poll surfaced will have a higher frequency of being touched by others. Your location should be practicing proper hygiene and cleaning protocols, but the added layer of protection of gloves can help.
    • Avoid close contact with other people by maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet even when wearing masks.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in lined trash cans. 
    • Monitor your health daily. If you’re feeling ill, remain home, don’t vote in-person.
  • Consider voting alternatives to minimize contact. 
    Your local community may have voting alternatives to help limit the number of people in one location or the amount of time spent while voting. This can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Check your local election office  for more information.
  • Do not disinfect or wipe down the voting equipment yourself. 
    Electronic voting equipment can be damaged by cleaners and disinfectants. If you use hand sanitizer before touching the voting equipment, ensure your hands are completely dry to avoid damaging the equipment. Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer after using the voting equipment.
  • Avoid crowds
    • Vote early, if possible, in your jurisdiction.
    • Mail in your vote, if your jurisdiction provides mail-in (or Absentee) voting.
    • Vote at off-peak times, such as mid-morning.
    • Monitor poll lines while in your car to determine the optimal time to wait in line.
  • Be prepared
    • Check your voting location and requirements in advance to see if there have been any changes due to COVID-19.
    • Verify your voter registration information is correct in advance of reporting to the polling location.
    • Contact your local or state election office for additional information for voters with disabilities.
    • Make sure you have all necessary documents to avoid delays at the polling location.
    • If possible, complete any registration forms prior to arriving at the polling location.
    • Where possible, review or complete a sample ballot at home to speed the process of casting your ballot at the polling location.
    • Bring your own black ink pen.
    • Bring a stylus or similar object for use with touchscreen voting machines. Check with poll workers before using.

 

We’re Here to Help

Protecting yourself and others by following the CDC’s recommended safety protocols can help reduce the risk of contracting the virus or spreading it to others.

In these challenging times, the risk of exposure is more prevalent than ever. We offer the following safety service options:

COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.

COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.

COVID19 TESTING – We now offer COVID-19 Testing Services For Colleges, Universities, Private Companies, And Public Agencies

If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.

 

Emergency preparedness instructions

Preparing for Natural Disasters Can Help Save Lives

The month of September is recognized by FEMA as National Preparedness Month. The general purpose is to promote awareness of disasters and provide planning tools to help mitigate damages. This year’s theme is “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.”

Whether it’s a pandemic, hurricane, flooding, tornadoes, or wildfires, disasters come in manner forms, each with their own set of circumstances that can cause major injuries and property destruction. Being prepared can help lessen the inevitable losses from these events.

Even with safety steps, such as mask wearing, practicing safe social distancing, and routine cleaning, the COVID-19 pandemic is still spreading. With 7 million people in the U.S. infected with the virus and over 200,000 people have died, it seems planning is paramount to protection.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned this year’s Hurricane season will be extremely active and predicts 19 to 25 named storms.

Numerous wildfires have caused massive damage in California and Colorado, with wildfire smoke contributing to poor air quality. Add to these situations extreme heat, flooding, and tornadoes, the need for emergency preparedness is even greater.

Establish a Disaster Preparedness Plan

FEMA, under the National Preparedness Month, recommends the following steps to take to get a plan in motion.

1. Make a Plan
During a disaster it’s easy to get separated from family members, so be sure to make a plan and know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.

Tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Be sure to create a paper copy of the contact information for your family and other important people/offices, such as medical facilities, doctors, schools, or service providers. Share this information with family members and, most importantly, practice. Hold regular household meetings to review the plan and make sure everyone understands the critical steps to ensure safety.

You can begin to create your plan here: Create Your Family Emergency Communication Plan

2. Build a Kit
After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

FEMA also recommends preparing multiple kits and storing them in at your home, workplace, and car for easy access.

3. Be Informed
To help limit the impact of a disaster, know the risks in your area. Learn how to make your home stronger in the face of storms and other common hazards and act fast if you receive a local warning or alert. to get emergency alerts, and where you would go if you and your family need to evacuate.

4. Get Involved
Check with your local community about ways you can help your neighbors prepare for a natural disaster, as well. Consider volunteering to assist in efforts after a disaster and assisting in training programs to help prepare others.

Preparedness Planning for Your Business

Planning can help you keep your business running if disaster strikes. Taking the right steps to prevent and prepare for disaster, and know where to get aid if disaster strikes, could be critical to ensuring your business reopens.

According to the Small Business Association, an estimated 25 percent of businesses don’t open again after a major disaster.

The steps above also apply to preparing a plan for your business. FEMA recommends business owners take time to identify risks to your business and review necessary insurance documents, develop a written plan, and share with employees, train, and practice with employees to ensure everyone understands the plan.

We’re Here to Help

If you need help preparing a plan or updating your existing plan, we can help. Our services include: on-site safety program development and implementation, safety training online and in the classroom, facility safety inspections, OSHA inspection-related assistance, written health and safety programs, insurance loss control evaluations, construction safety consulting, and full-time project and facility safety management.

Worker in a factory wearing a mask during coronavirus covid-19 pandemic

How to Wear a Mask to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19

The rate of daily COVID cases is beginning to rise. Some stats show the daily infected number hovering around 40,000.

More concerning is a report from John Hopkins, which suggests a second surge of Coronavirus cases could happen before fall. Couple this with the upcoming flu season, and health experts are concerned this 2nd wave could be much worse than expected.

How COVID-19 Spreads

As the CDC states, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

 

How to Protect Yourself

Along with maintaining social distancing, practicing proper personal hygiene, routinely cleaning frequently touched surfaces – wearing a face mask is an added layer of protection that works well.
Though wearing a mask may seem offensive to some, even to the point of being politicized, world leading health organizations all agree – wearing a mask may help reduce the spread of the virus.

The CDC states, in part:

” Masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control. This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.”

How to Wear Masks

Follow these steps to ensure proper mask wearing:

  • • Wash your hands before putting on your mask
  • • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
  • • Make sure you can breathe easily

DO wear a mask like this:

Be sure that you mask covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly against the sides of your face. Also, wash your hands before and after touching the mask. When removing your mask, try to only touch the mask strings or bands and not the actual mask covering. It’s also important that the mask is comfortable to wear and doesn’t prohibit normal breathing and talking.

If you are wearing a cloth face mask, it is recommended that the mask be washed after each use. Disposable masks should be discarded if soiled or damaged.

Do NOT wear a mask like this:

While wearing a mask, it is important to make sure it covers your nose and mouth. It is also recommended that you don’t touch your or your child’s mask while it is being worn. Also, important to remember, don’t take your mask off in public or share your mask with others.

 

We’re Here to Help

There is still much we do not know about this virus. Implementing a plan now can provide a safer work environment and possibly help reduce the chance of a business lawsuit.

In these challenging times, the risk of exposure is more prevalent than ever. We offer two Safety Service Options:

COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.

COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.

COVID19 TESTING – We now offer COVID-19 Testing Services For Colleges, Universities, Private Companies, And Public Agencies

If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.

 

 

Defense lawyer with client in court

COVID-19 Related Workplace Lawsuits Are on The Rise

COVID-19 continues to cause a negative impact on the economy. Businesses struggle to remain open and many people are concerned about their health and safety. With many businesses, and now schools, reopening or beginning to reopen, people face a challenging choice between income and safety.

The search for an effective vaccine is underway, and the results seem promising. People still need to remain vigilant in protecting themselves and others from potentially spreading the virus.

Though a safe work environment is a key to the success of the economy and to people’s health, it appears some companies are not following proper guidelines. This has led to an uptick in workplace lawsuits.

Workplace Lawsuits on The Rise

Fisher and Phillips, a law firm representing employers in labor and employment matters, offers an interactive COVID-19 Employment Litigation Tracker which shows there are more than 670 pending complaints.

In MA alone, there were over 900 COVID relates complaints. Many of the complaints were due to failure to allow for enough social distancing and a lack of cleaning and disinfection. While other complaints were for employers allegedly requiring those with COVID-19 symptoms to come into work.

Recently, Harrah’s, MGM Grand and Bellagio casinos were sued by a group of employees for not informing them when co-workers tested positive and did not provide adequate contact-trace before allowing colleagues of infected employees to return to the job.

The top coronavirus-related workplace issues that may lead to litigation seem to revolve around:

  • Paid sick leave or paid family leave wasn’t paid as mandated under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act
  • Whistleblower claims. Many states have laws designed to protect people who report information about suspected illegal, wasteful, or unethical activity.
  • Safety concerns and wage and hour issues that don’t meet the OSHA General Duty Clause
  • Wrongful death

Clearly lawsuits are on the rise. This will be an ongoing issue many businesses will need to learn to mitigate.

How Can Employers Protect Themselves?

If you have concerns or are being sued, your first step should be to consult with your attorney.

Make sure you have a plan in place to resolve any COVID health issues that may arise. The CDC provides guidance on how to maintain healthy business operations:

Here are some steps to consider:

  • Identify a workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19 issues
  • Implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices
  • Protect employees at higher risk for severe illness through supportive policies and practices.
  • Communicate supportive workplace policies clearly, frequently, and via multiple methods.
  • Assess your essential functions and the reliance that others and the community have on your services or products.
  • Determine how you will operate if absenteeism spikes
  • Establish policies and practices for social distancing.
  • Document any wage changes due to reduced hours, furloughs, or layoffs
  • Comply with employee confidentiality when/if providing temperature screening or other health tests

We’re Here to Help

There is still much we do not know about this virus. Implementing a plan now can provide a safer work environment and possibly help reduce the chance of a business lawsuit.

In these challenging times, the risk of exposure is more prevalent than ever. We offer two Safety Service Options:

COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.

COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.

COVID19 TESTING – We now offer COVID-19 Testing Services For Colleges, Universities, Private Companies, And Public Agencies

If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.