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Staying COVID-19 Safe for the Holidays – What You Need to Know

Christmas is this Friday and New Years Eve the week after. Our staff at United Alliance want to wish everyone a safe and happy, and healthy, holidays!

This year, the Holidays will feel different. The COVID-19 virus is still ravaging the US, according to the CDC, to date there are 17,790,376 cases in the US, with a staggering 316,844 deaths.

In the spirit of Christmas, there is renewed hope. There are now two vaccines being distributed and administer to people, and the COVID virus may soon be over.

This is great news. However, now is not the time to stop practicing the safety protocols we’ve all learned to live with.

With Christmas and New Year’s now upon us, the CDC, and many state governments, are asking people to restrict travel plans and family gatherings, in an effort to keep people safe until the vaccine is available for all.

If you do plan to travel and either attend or host a holiday event with family and friends, the CDC provides steps you can take to ensure a safe and healthy time.

 Holiday Travel – Question to Ask to Help Keep Safe

(Image source CDC website)

If you are considering traveling for the winter holidays, here are some important questions to ask yourself and your loved ones beforehand. These questions can help you decide what is best for you and your family.

  1. Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?
  2. Are cases high or increasing in your community or at your destination?
  3. Are hospitals overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19?
  4. Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers?
  5. During the 14 days before your travel, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don’t live with?
  6. Do your plans include traveling by bus, train, or airplane, which might make staying 6 feet apart difficult?
  7. Are you traveling with people who don’t live with you?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you should consider making other plans, such as hosting a virtual gathering or delaying your travel.

How to Make Winter Holiday Celebrations Safer

Whether you plan to attend a holiday gathering or hosting a party in your home, here are some steps to consider in your planning:

Attending a Gathering

(Image source CDC website)

If you plan on attending a holiday gathering with people who don’t live with you, here are some steps to take:

  1. Wear a mask
  2. Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, utensils, and condiment packets.
  3. Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you
  4. Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated indoor spaces
  5. Avoid shouting or singing.
  6. Wash your hands often
  7. Get a flu shot as soon as possible
  8. Stay home if you are sick or have been near someone who thinks they may have or have been exposed to COVID-19.

Hosting a Winter Holiday Celebration

(Image source CDC website)

If you choose to have guests at your home, make sure that everyone follows the steps to make holiday celebrations safer. Other ways you can make your celebration safer include:

  1. Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.
  2. Limit the number of guests.
  3. Have a small, outdoor celebration with family and friends who live in your community, weather-permitting.
  4. Have extra unused masks available for your guests and encourage everyone to wear them inside and outside.
  5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
  6. If celebrating indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible. You can use a window fan in one of the open windows to blow air out of the window. This will pull fresh air in through the other open windows.
  7. Have a separate space for guests to wash their hands or provide hand sanitizer.
  8. Keep background music volume low so guests don’t need to shout.
  9. Cancel your gathering if you or someone who lives with you is sick or has been near someone who thinks they have or has COVID-19.
  10. It’s okay if you decide to postpone or cancel your gathering.

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.

 

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.

Hand holding lit sparkler in front of the American Flag for 4th of July celebration

July 4th Safety Tips

July 4th is a time to celebrate our nation’s birthday. It’s also a time to be with family and friends to enjoy a cookout and watch the fireworks. However, this year is different. Even as states are relaxing their shutdown plans and reopening, the Coronavirus is still spreading in most states across the country.

Though it’s tempting to go outside and enjoy restaurants and shopping, it is still imperative to adhere to local safety requirements.

The CDC has provided guidance on how to stay safe while communities and businesses are opening. While it is tempting to resume some daily activities, it is also imperative that you implement safety precautions to help reduce to risk of infection and spread. While there is no way to remove the risk of infection, there are potential risk factors and prevention measures you can take to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

As a reminder, if you have COVID-19, have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, it is important to stay home and away from other people. In all circumstances, be sure to follow CDC’s recommendations.

Coronavirus – Tips to Help Protect Yourself, Your Family and Your Workers

What to consider before you go

How many people will you interact with? Interacting with more people raises your risk. Being in a group with people who are not social distancing or wearing cloth face coverings increases your risk. Engaging with new people also raises your risk. Some people have the virus and do not have any symptoms, and it is not yet known how often people without symptoms can transmit the virus to others.

Can you keep 6 feet of space between you and others? Will you be outdoors or indoors? The closer you are to other people who may be infected, the greater your risk of getting sick. Keeping distance from other people is especially important for people who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with underlying medical conditions. Indoor spaces are riskier than outdoor spaces.

What is the length of time that you will be interacting with people? Spending more time with people who may be infected increases your risk of becoming infected. Spending more time with people increases their risk of becoming infected if there is any chance that you may already be infected.

Determining Your Level of Risk

Asking these questions can help determine your level of risk:

  1. Is COVID-19 spreading in my community?
  2. What are the local orders in my community?
  3. Will my activity put me in close contact with others?
  4. Am I at risk for severe illness?
  5. Do I live with someone who is at risk for severe illness?
  6. Do I practice everyday preventive actions?
  7. Will I have to share any items, equipment, or tools with other people?
  8. Will I need to take public transportation to get to the activity?
  9. Does my activity require travel to another community?
  10. If I get sick with COVID-19, will I have to miss work or school?
  11. Do I know what to do if I get sick?

Safety Service Options to Protect You

As MA enters Phase 2 of the reopening plan, and with COVID-19 still a concern for many people, safety measures and CDC guidelines need to be followed in order to reduce the risk of infection and spread.

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.

We hosted a webinar: What Employers Need To Know About Covid-19 Testing & Accelerating The Return To Work. Which provided tips on keeping the workplace safe for employees and customers. Watch it free here.

 

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Keeping Employees Safe for Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day is a time to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials to honor our brave fallen heroes. 

As a thank you to our veterans and to encourage employers to keep their employees safe over the holiday, we’re offering  20% discount on our online training courses.

It is also considered the unofficial start to the summer and has become a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family gatherings, fireworks and national media events.

However, this year may be a little different. With COVID-19 gripping the nation with fear and anxiety, many traditional summer events have either been cancelled or will reopen to new state mandated reopening guidelines.

More people may be staying closer to home, but fun can still be had. As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, the American Safety Counsel provides some helpful tips to stay safe:

Grilling & Fire Safety

Grills and smokers, while creating delicious cookout fare, have a great potential for danger.

  1. Never leave a grill unattended
  2. Keep children and animals away from hot surfaces
  3. Make sure your grill ready for the job. Keep it clean of grease, inspect propane fuel lines
  4. Keep an extinguisher nearby in case of flair-ups and make sure to know how to cut off fuel lines if you are using propane

Picnic Food Safety

Picnics in the backyard or nearby park can be a fun activity for the family. Be sure to avoid any unnecessary digestion issues while preparing food by following these steps.

  1. Take all safe food preparation precautions and avoid cross-contamination
  2. Be sure to wash your hands often
  3. Keep foods at safe temperatures
  4. Keep all outdoor buffet dishes covered

Summer Sun Safety

Use sunscreen of an appropriate SPF and reapply often, especially if you are swimming or sweating. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Wear a hat and sunglasses.

Memorial Day Travel Safety

As many states begin to reopen, parks and beaches may be available in your area. Keep in mind, Memorial Day is a major travel day, so it is especially important to include driving safety into your weekend travel plans.

  1. Make sure your car is in top working condition; check your tire pressure and fill your tank before heading out on your trip, and make sure you are equipped with emergency essentials.
  2. Plan your drive ahead of time 
  3. Keep an eye on weather forecasts
  4. Never drive after drinking, travel with anyone who has been drinking, or allow anyone who has been drinking to drive.
  5. Always wear your safety belt!
black friday-min

Black Friday Shopping Safety Tips!

The night of Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday is a popular time to shop. It’s an exciting time for deals but it’s also a great opportunity for scammers and thieves.  So, whether you’ll be spending your hard-earned cash in Boston, Providence, Hartford, New York City or elsewhere, there are a few safety tips that you should keep in mind:

It’s a busy time of year and distractions can put us at greater risk of problems. Fortunately, taking a few proactive steps can go a long way to keep you and your family safe” – Valerie Wakefield, President/CEO

Shopping Safety Tips

Where ever you go shopping, there are a few safety tips that you should keep in mind:

• Don’t be carrying large amounts of cash and flashing it around.
• Shopping in numbers, this will help deter any thieves from mugging you while you’re carrying your purchases out of the store.
• Ladies, don’t leave your purse in your shopping car, and, if you wear in on your shoulder, don’t leave it open.
• Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before leaving and keep in close by at all times.
• Beware of strangers approach you for any reason. At this time of year, con artist may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
• Do not carry multiple packages at once. Use will call and curbside package pickup service instead.
• Lastly, make sure your family/friends know exactly what your plans are, write down the stores and keep in touch throughout that day.

Safely Transporting Purchases

While carrying your purchases to the car, you may want to remember these tips:

• Park in well-lit areas, and report and suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately.
• Reduce distractions, such as using cell phones, while walking to your car, especially at night.
• Try not to carry a large number of packages with you. Keep a hand open and prepare to enter your vehicle.
• Do not load packages in the trunk right before leaving your vehicle. Somebody could be watching.
• Never leave personal items or packages in plain sight in your vehicle. This includes money (even loose change), credit cards, cell phones, laptops, tablets, purses, and GPS units.
• Store valuables in the trunk of your vehicle

For more information on our occupational health and safety consulting or training services please visit us at www.UnitedAllianceServices.com or you can e-mail us at safetysolutions@UnitedAllianceServices.com or give us a call at 877-399-1698.

2019 written in sparklers

New Year’s Eve Safety Tips

New Year’s celebrations are exciting & fun, but it is important to stay safe. These actions can help save your life or someone else’s!

Drive Safe

Responsibility – It is estimated that 10,000 lives are claimed each year from drunk driving crashes.

  • If you will be drinking, plan on not driving. Plan an UBER/LYFT or find a designated driver ahead of time. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
  • If someone you know has been drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys and arrange a sober ride home.
  • Contact local law enforcement if you should see an impaired driver on the road

Winter Weather – be prepared for New England Winters!

See Something, Say Something

Report anything suspicious by dialing 9-1-1 or contact the local police department.

  • Suspicious activity such as questioning security measures of buildings or operations beyond curiosity
  • Unusual items or situations, unattended bags, or vehicles parked in odd locations

Firework Safety

Fireworks are illegal in MA without a license. Leave the fireworks to the professionals. This includes sparklers!

Click here to find local firework displays where you can enjoy these safely!

Man in a hardhat standing inside a warehouse

UASC @ The MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show

To conclude our series of blogs, we are excited to announce our attendance to The MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show 1/18/19 – 1/19/19!

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Updated MGL with OSHA compliance

In correspondence to the updated MGL Chapter 149, section 6 1/2 we are here to answer any questions.

On March 9, 2018, Massachusetts rolled out an updated MGL Chapter 149, section 6 1/2 to include reference to OSHA regulations, updating the law written before OSHA’s inception. It has left public sector employers scrambling to figure out exactly how they are affected and how to quickly get into compliance within the short time frame provided. The updated law helps clarify the responsibilities of public sector employers, which is enforced by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS), while giving everyone less than a year to become in compliance.

The MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show

This the largest regular gathering of Massachusetts local government officials. This show features educational workshops, nationally recognized speakers, awards programs, a large trade show, and an opportunity to network with municipal officials from across the state.

Shortly after this, the new Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards’ safety training mandates on the public sector will be enforceable and United Alliance Services Corporation is ready to connect with you. We have already secured our booth at the tradeshow to answer questions you may have about the new mandate and how your department will be affected. Our consultants have decades of experience with OSHA safety standards and can easily apply them to various departments to ensure the best training is delivered.

Our safety consultants and training department have weeded through the requirements and have pulled together a blog series to shed some light on the changes, help you determine the training you need, and bring your department into compliance.

We have created custom packages for municipalities and schools that are budget-friendly, easy to deliver, and satisfies the requirements:

OSHA Safety Training for MA Schools

OSHA Safety Training for Municipalities

Please stop by our booth #712 to learn more!

 

architect in a building construction site

Updated MGL with OSHA compliance

The law has been updated to contain phrases of OSHA compliance since it was written prior to OSHA inception. OSHA will continue to oversee federal and private entities.

The Mass DLS will oversee the Massachusetts Public Sector while following the general duty clause and practices outlined by OSHA. Neither supersede each other.

Mass Department of Labor Standards

DLS administers health and safety inspections of public sector workplaces. The update clarifies the obligations of public sector employers.

Hefty fines are issued if corrective orders for infractions are not addressed within a specific time frame.

All DLS inspections are scheduled except for higher-risk sites labeled as “imminent” inspection sites where active trenches, aerial lifts operations, and roofing are active.

Defining Public Sector

The public sector workplace is anyone overseen by the Commonwealth: courts, municipalities, state agencies, counties, towns, commissions, and educators from public & private schools and colleges.

The requirements are to ensure workers are able to perform jobs safely and in compliance with OSHA regulations.

A checklist has been issued by the commonwealth to provide guidance.

Injury Reporting

If you have a public sector workplace injury that causes a death, amputation, loss of an eye, loss of consciousness, or inpatient hospitalization, call 508-616-0461 within 24 hours to report the injury.

Keep an updated OSHA 300 log.

Call us at 877-399-1698 if you need training on record keeping or check out our public training schedule or online courses.

Be sure to keep an eye on our upcoming blog that dives a bit deeper into injury reporting.

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Small Business Saturday Discounts

Support your local small business by shopping small this Saturday, November 24th. After you’ve filled your belly with Thanksgiving turkey on Thursday, skip the Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness, and do your holiday shopping Saturday locally and support small businesses in your community.

Why is Shopping Small Important?

  • Small businesses improve local economies by creating jobs.
  • Shopping locally means less of a carbon footprint. Both you and your purchases have traveled less distance to make it home.
  • It saves you time! Forget about giant box stores where you have to navigate through an acre of aisles and long lines, dodging other shoppers’ carts and children amped up on sugary bribes.
  • When small, local businesses thrive, that means more taxes collected in your community that can go to things like schools, parks and community programs.
  • Small entrepreneurs dream big! Be a part of someone’s dream come true.
  • You get great deals!

Support our Small Business

In support of Small Business Saturday United Alliance Services and OccuMed of New England is offering a 10% discount for all open enrollment classes booked on Saturday, November 24th. To register, visit our open enrollment calendar. We’ll also discount any requests for proposals for private training classes received that day. To make a request, chat us on our website, email healthsolutions@occumedne.com or leave us a message by calling 833-OCCUMED.

Small Businesses Near Me

Shopping small is one of the easiest ways you can simplify your life and support your local community this holiday season. Check out the American Express Small Business Saturday Map for a list of small businesses in your area. Happy shopping and happy Thanksgiving!