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.

fit tester v3

OSHA Changes Respirator Fit Testing Standards

According to TSI Incorporated, OSHA announced changes to its Respiratory Protection Standard. The changes affect the Ambient Aerosol Condensation Nuclei Counter (CNC) Quantitative Fit Test (QNFT) Protocols in 29CFR 1910.134, Appendix A.

These changes include modified protocols for the following respirators:

• Full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators
• Filtering facepiece respirators

The new protocols are based on three studies, published in a peer-reviewed journal, demonstrating the equivalency to the original Ambient Aerosol CNC QNFT protocol. Testing speed has been reduced to 2:20 minutes, as opposed to the 7:15 minutes before the change.

The Concern with Qualitative Fit Testing

Standard qualitative fit testing is a subjective method of fit-testing that allows for a significant margin of error. This is because it relies on the user’s senses to relay information during typical testing methods (Saccharin and Bitrex).

Though qualitative methods are still in compliance with OSHA, there are now newer and safer methods of conducting respirator fit testing.

fit tester

 

PortaCount and the Benefits of Quantitative Fit Testing

Quantitative fit testing is an objective method that minimizes human error. This is an assessment of the adequacy of respirator fit by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator.

This method uses a machine that measures particles, effectively removing the subjective nature of a standard qualitative fit test. Studies also show that quantitative fit testing achieves higher Simulated Workplace Protection Factors (SWPF) than qualitative methods for N95 filtering facepieces.

The PortaCount can also test a variety of half and full-face respirators from all of the major manufacturers.  The quantitative testing method is a safer approach and fit test administrators no longer have to rely on a person’s senses and self-reported feedback to determine if a mask fits.

PortaCount Fit Testing

 

The PortaCount has many features, including real-time fit changes that can help users select the right mask and identify the best fit more quickly. On-screen video animations help guide users while conducting the fit test.

The PortaCount software is continuously updated and maintained ensuring the most accurate results. All data is securely stored and documented. The PortaCount administrator can see exactly when a test took place, by who and when they will need to be tested again.

Overall, the PortaCount is an exceptional machine that offers nearly foolproof fit testing, eliminating the subjective nature of traditional qualitative fit-testing. It helps protect workers and maintain OSHA compliance by providing accurate, real-time fit factors.

PortaCount Fit Testing Services Available

We offer PortaCount fit testing services. Contact us today for custom pricing options.

 

 

Ways to prevent falls

Falls from Elevation – a Leading Cause of Death on Construction Sites

In 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,008 construction fatalities, 320 were attributed to falls, and fall protection remains a top osha most frequently cited violations.

As fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, OSHA announced its 7th Annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls event for the week of September 14-18.

Safety Stand Down

A safety stand down is a voluntary event for employers to talk with employees about safety requirements to help prevent fall hazards and reinforce the importance of Fall Prevention.

Who Should Participate?

All companies are eligible to participate. Even employers with employees not exposed to fall hazards are encouraged to take this time to discuss, and reinforce, job hazards and the safety measures and requirements in place to ensure a safer work environment. Companies participating can also receive a Certificate of Participation.

8 Steps to Conduct a Successful Stand Down

To ensure a smooth Stand Down event, and to encourage companies to participate, OSHA provides the following steps to take:

  1. Start early and designate a coordinator to organize the event
  2. Ask not only employees but subcontractors, architects, engineers, or others to participate
  3. Review your current fall prevention program to see if there are updates needed
  4. Decide on what information will be best to present about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies
  5. Choose a date and length of time for the event
  6. Promote your event with email, social media, handouts, posters
  7. Keep the event positive and interactive with open conversations and demonstrations of safety protocols
  8. After the event, be sure to follow-up with any improvements

OSHA also hosts an Events page with events that are free and open to the public to help employers and employees find events in your area. If you plan to host a free event that is open to the public, see OSHA’s Events page to submit the event details and to contact your Regional Stand-Down Coordinator. In New England, the contact person is:

Paul Mangiafico
Mangiafico.Paul@dol.gov
860-240-3152
860-597-0307

 

We’re here to help

Interested in holding a stand down event? Feel free to contact us, we can help with planning and presenting safety tips and topics to ensure a successful event.

As a leading provider of OSHA safety training, we offer various courses to help you and your workers remain safe on the job. We have the safety courses you need to maintain a safe work environment, remain OSHA compliant, and prevent injuries.

Review our course offerings:

Online Courses

On-site Courses

Public Classes

Portrait woman worker under inspection and checking production process on factory station by wearing safety mask to protect for pollution and virus in factory.

Face Coverings Make A Difference – Which One Should You Wear?

Face coverings are now the new norm in every work environment. It most states it’s mandated that people wear some form of face covering while inside confined areas, such as grocery stores, retail stores, professional offices, and when social distancing is not an option. Even those who work outside, and where social distancing is difficult, are required to wear some form of face covering.

Regardless of the work environment, the type of face covering worn varies greatly. Many choose to wear disposable surgical masks, bandanas, handkerchiefs, fleece balaclavas (cold-weather gear that covers the entire face except for the eyes), and neck gaiters (tubes of performance fabric typically used for running outdoors.

But which face covering provides the best protection?

The type of face covering – there is a difference

A recent study out of Duke University suggests that certain face coverings provide better protection and that there are certain masks that actually produce more particles than speaking with no face covering at all.

The study tested 14 commonly used face coverings and recorded droplets emitted while speaking.

Face coverings used in test

Photo Credit: Emma Fischer, Duke University.

To test each mask, the wearer repeated the sentence “Stay healthy, people” five times (speech), after which the camera kept recording for an additional 20 s (observation). For each mask and for the control trial, this protocol was repeated 10 times.

The results suggest some interesting findings.

Results from face covering test

The best protection was provided by the use of the filtered N95 mask, followed by the surgical mask and a homemade cotton mask with multiple layers.

However, the least amount of protection was provided by bandanas, handkerchiefs, fleece balaclavas and neck gaiters.

The main reason was the fitted nature of the best performing masks and allows for more droplet blockage.

Tips on the proper use of masks and face coverings

To spread the word about face coverings, MA.gov provides information on this topic. Regardless of whether a person shows symptoms or not, it is a widely held belief that wearing a face covering may help prevent the spreading of COVID-19.

The website offers the following recommendations – it is important that you wear these face coverings or masks in situations where it is difficult to maintain a social distance of six feet from others.

When you wear a cloth mask, it should:

  1. Cover your nose and mouth,
  2. Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face,
  3. Be secured with ties or ear loops,
  4. Include multiple layers of fabric,
  5. Allow for breathing without restriction, and
  6. Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

When putting on and taking off a mask, do not touch the front of it, you should only handle the ties or ear straps, and make sure you wash the cloth mask regularly. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching the mask.

Cloth masks should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

We’re here to help

In these challenging times, the risk of exposure on your job site 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.

 

 

 

hand sanitizing on construction site

FDA Warns of Hand Sanitizers with Methanol

Though some states have leveled off, other states are beginning to see COVID-19 spikes. While social distancing and mask wearing are critical to containing the spread, hand hygiene is a component not to be overlooked.

Though the CDC has stated the exact contribution of hand hygiene to the reduction of direct and indirect spread of coronaviruses between people is currently unknown, hand washing is still highly recommended as a way to assist in removing pathogens.

They further recommend using ABHR with 60-95% alcohol in healthcare settings. Unless hands are visibly soiled, an alcohol-based hand rub is preferred over soap and water in most clinical situations and hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when visibly soiled, before eating, and after using the restroom.

Hand Sanitizers with Methanol Can Be Toxic

According to the FDA, the agency has seen an increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested. Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects.

Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning.

Substantial methanol exposure can result in

  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • headache,
  • blurred vision,
  • permanent blindness,
  • seizures,
  • coma,
  • permanent damage to the nervous system
  • death

 

FDA also urges consumers not to drink any of these products and to avoid and sanitizers that are sold or offered for sale with false and misleading, unproven claims that they can prevent the spread of viruses such as COVID-19, including claims that they can provide prolonged protection.

FDA’s urges consumers to not use certain hand sanitizer products

When considering which hand sanitizer to use, the FDA provides a chart outlining the information on hand sanitizer labels for consumers to use to identify a product that:

  • Is FDA tested and found to contain methanol and is labeled to contain methanol. Products labeled as “FDA-approved” are fraudulent as there are no hand sanitizers approved by FDA.
  • Has been tested and is found to have microbial contamination.
  • Is being recalled by the manufacturer or distributor.
  • Is subpotent, meaning it has less than the required amount of ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol or benzalkonium chloride.
  • Is purportedly made at the same facility as products that have been tested by FDA and found to contain methanol.

FDA advises consumers not to use hand sanitizers from these companies, or products with these names or NDC numbers. View the list here.

Q&A for Consumers: Hand Sanitizers and COVID-19

The FDA and CDC provide answers to commonly asked questions regarding hand sanitizers. View the list of questions and answers.

Questions and answers include:

  1. Is hand sanitizer effective against COVID-19?
  2. Should I be using antibacterial soap to wash my hands?
  3. Where can I buy hand sanitizer? If I can’t find it in the store, can I make my own?
  4. Is the FDA taking measures to increase the supply of hand sanitizers?
  5. What do I do if I get a rash or other reaction to hand sanitizer?
  6. Many surface cleaners and disinfectants say they can be used against SARS-CoV-2. What does this mean? Can I use these products on my hands or body to prevent or treat the virus?
  7. Any many more …

 

We’re here to help

In these challenging times, the risk of exposure on your job site 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.

Join our team !

We’re Hiring In 2020: Multiple Positions

United Alliance Services Corporation (UASC), OccuMed of New England’s sister company, is growing quickly and we’re looking to expand our team! UASC is a full-service provider of occupational health and safety consulting and training services. We understand the compliance issues that affect the business owner, manager, contractor, insurer, and broker. Our aim is to develop solutions to assist our client’s management team in reaching and exceeding their health and safety goals.

UASC has multiple locations, with our corporate office being located in Canton, MA. With our company growing exponentially over the past few years, we are looking for excited and hungry individuals to help grow it even more. If you are self-motivated and positive, apply today to one of the positions that’s right for you!

Current UASC Job Openings:

Construction Site Safety Manager – New England

Regional Safety Consultant – New England

OSHA Outreach Trainer – New England

Current OccuMed Job Openings:

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) – New England

Health and Wellness Consultant/Trainer – New England

 

How to Apply

To apply for any of the current job openings at United Alliance Services Corporation, please email your updated resume, cover letter, and list of 3 professional references to safetysolutions@uascor.com. For more information or assistance, please call 774-302-4305. To learn more about United Alliance Services, please visit our website by clicking here.

 

OccuMed of New England Careers

Interested in UASC’s health and wellness division, OccuMed of New England? Visit our sister website and view the current job openings by clicking here.

 

 

Technician or engineer with protective mask and helmet standing in industrial factory.

Unsafe Workplaces – 900 COVID-19 Noncompliance Complaints

As businesses try to navigate these uncertain times and provide a safe work environment, many states are still showing increases in COVID-19 cases. For states where cases are either declining or holding steady, workers are returning to work under stricter safety protocols.

Employers are also scrambling to keep up with customer demand and provide their workers with a safe workplace. All states have specific requirements employers need to follow and while most are adhering to these standards, many are not.

900 COVID-19 Complaints Filed Since May

A recent article on MassLive revealed there were as many as 900 formal complaints filed against Massachusetts businesses since May from workers about alleged failures to adequately protect them from COVID-19 risks.

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.

It was also reported that OSHA has closed more than 500 coronavirus-related complaints in Massachusetts this year.

While no fines have yet to be enforced upon these businesses, several have been ordered to shut down immediately for cleaning and sanitation, and dozens of cease-and-desist letters have been sent to companies allegedly in violation of COVID-19.

Filing a Complaint

Due to the number of complaints, Massachusetts has provided a complaint form on Mass.gov that can be completed anonymously.

The types of hazard people can file a complaint about include:

  • Cleaning/disinfection
  • Hygiene
  • Failure to display Compliance Attestation poster
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Requiring symptomatic employees to work
  • Retaliation
  • Social distancing

What Employers Must Do to Keep Employees Safe at Work

Many states have established safety standards for businesses to follow while they continue to reopen and need to follow in order to remain open. They are designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to employees and customers.

The MA Department of Public Health (DPH) and the COVID-19 Command Center, note the following required safety standards:

  1. Social Distancing

Whenever possible, all persons, including employees, customers, and vendors should remain at least six feet apart, both inside and outside workplaces. Protocols should be established to ensure that employees can practice adequate social distancing. Signage needs to be provided to show steps for safe social distancing. Face coverings or masks for all employees is required.

  1. Hygiene Protocols

Employers need to provide handwashing capabilities throughout the workplace with supplies and make sure employees are frequently washing their hands. Also, regular sanitization of high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site, needs to be implemented.

  1. Staffing and Operations

Employers need to provide training for employees regarding social distancing and hygiene protocols. If an employee is displaying COVID19-like symptoms, the employer should allow that person to stay home. An established plan for employees getting ill from Covid-19 at work, and a return-to-work plan, needs to be in place for employees to review.

  1. Cleaning and Disinfecting

Employees must establish and maintain a cleaning protocol. When an active employee is diagnosed with COVID19, cleaning, and disinfecting must be performed. Disinfection of all common surfaces must take place at intervals appropriate to the workplace and work environment.

Avoid Employee Complaints

The safety standards have put another layer of pressure on business owners and workers. No business owner wants the added expense of a potential fine or a cease-and-desist letter.

However, having a complaint filed is avoidable. Following the required standards is necessary and for those who need additional help, 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.

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.

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