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.

 

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.

Nurse wearing respirator mask holding a positive blood test result for the new rapidly spreading Coronavirus, originating in Wuhan, China

OSHA Issues New COVID-19 Guidance on Recording Cases

With construction sites and many businesses reopening in all states, OSHA has issued new guidance for employers for recording COVID-19 cases.

Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness. Employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19:
• If the case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
• The case is work-related, and
• If it involves one or more of the general recording criteria – death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness.

According to OSHA, when determining whether an employer has complied with this obligation and made a reasonable determination of work-relatedness, CSHOs should apply the following considerations:

1. The reasonableness of the employer’s investigation into work-relatedness.
Since most employers lack the resources to initiate extensive medical inquiries, and the concern for privacy issues, OSHA states it is sufficient in most circumstances for the employer, when it learns of an employee’s COVID-19 illness, (1) to ask the employee how he believes he contracted the COVID-19 illness; (2) while respecting employee privacy, discuss with the employee his work and out-of-work activities that may have led to the COVID-19 illness; and (3) review the employee’s work environment for potential SARS-CoV-2 exposure. The review in (3) should be informed by any other instances of workers in that environment contracting COVID-19 illness.

2. The evidence available to the employer.
Trying to determine if a COVID-19 illness was work-related is no easy task. To ease some concern, OSHA suggests employers rely on the information reasonably available at the time it made its work-relatedness determination. Any additional information learned later, then that information should be considered as well

3. The evidence that a COVID-19 illness was contracted at work.
All reasonably available evidence should be reviewed to determine whether an employer has complied with its recording obligation. Certain types of evidence may weigh in favor of or against work-relatedness.

To help determine this, there are a number of factors to consider, such as the number of cases among workers, the length and close exposure to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, the job duties that may have frequent, close exposure to the general public in a location with known cases, the work done in an area with confirmed community spread, and if there is close proximity and frequency with family members who has COVID-19, are all factors to when trying to determine if COVID-19 was work-related or not.

If the employer cannot determine whether it is more likely than not that exposure in the workplace played a causal role with respect to a case of COVID-19, the employer does not need to record that COVID-19 illness.

Stay on the Safe Side
The recording requirements can be a bit murky. Failure to comply can lead to penalties and fines. We offer two Safety Service Options to help you manage the potential exposure:
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.

worker with mask and hardhat-min

6 Ways Construction Sites Will Change Due to COVID-19

As America starts to reopen and people begin to return to work, business owners and workers will return to a different environment. Though it appears that the number of COVID-19 related illness and deaths are flattening, now is not the time to stop being vigilant.

In fact, businesses across the country will now need to adhere to an increased level of safety measures, social distancing, and personal hygiene protocols. Many states and counties have outlined an overwhelming list of items that need to be met to help minimize the risk and keep the level of infections down. 

Construction sites are no different.

United Alliance is committed to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers and workplaces during these unprecedented times. To that end, we are providing up to date information from multiple sources to give you the information you need to ensure a safer workplace.

Here are six ways that COVID-19 has altered the construction job sites:

  1. Jobsites will be cleaner and safer

As jobsites begin to reopen, workers will be subject to temperature checks when entering the jobsite. Social distancing will need to be adhered to and large group gatherings will need to be minimized.

Steps will be taken to sanitize common areas and direct work places. This includes all on-site bathrooms facilities, any break facilities, and any other common areas on the job site that may have been in close contact with the infected worker. Handwashing stations will be added so workers can adhere to the worksite guideline.

2. Heightened enforcement and oversight of safety

A site-specific COVID-19 Officer will need to be designated for every site. Large projects will need to develop and submit to city or town officials, a site-specific risk analysis and enhanced COVID-19 safety plan.

In some states, cities and towns will be able to enforce safety and distance protocols. Failure to comply may result in a pause of construction activities until a corrective action plan is prepared, submitted and approved by the city or town.

3. Worker health will be monitored

Along with temperature checks, workers may need to self-certify to their supervisor that they have no signs of a fever, a cough or trouble breathing within the past 24 hours and have not had “close contact” with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19.

4. Infection protocols will be enforced

Many states have guidelines and protocols Any worker showing even mild symptoms of respiratory infection (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) or fever should stay off the jobsite. Construction owners should enforce this rule. Employees exhibiting symptoms or unable to self-certify should be directed to leave the work site and seek medical attention

and applicable testing by their health care provider. They are not to return to the worksite until cleared by a medical professional

5. Projects will take longer

As noted in a recent article from Construction Drive, many of the major safety changes on construction sites will add to the time it takes to complete projects. While crucial to keeping workers healthy, techniques such suiting up with PPE, only allowing one trade on a site at a time and staggering work shifts will slow down progress.

6. Some workers may continue teleworking

While skilled construction workers were limited by the impact of COVID-19, back-office management was able to utilize technology tools such as web conferencing for meetings, emails and text messages, to keep many projects afloat.

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.

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.

Builder in safety equipment at construction site

OSHA Provides Seven Steps to Correctly Wear a Respirator at Work

OSHA recently provided a simple step-by-step process overview of the proper way to wear a respirator. Below is the overview. You can find more information on how to keep your workplace safe at OSHA.gov

Following these simple steps will help you properly put on and take off your respirator and keep you and everyone else safe.

  1. Wash Your Hands – with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol
  2. Inspect the Respirator – If it appears damaged or damp, do not use it.
  3. Put on the Respirator – Cup the respirator in your hand with the nosepiece at your fingertips and the straps hanging below your hand.  Cover your mouth and nose with the respirator and make sure there are no gaps (e.g., facial hair, hair, and glasses) between your face and the respirator. Place the strap over your head and rest at the top back of your head. If you have a second strap, place the bottom strap around your neck and below your ears. Do not crisscross straps.  If your respirator has a metal nose clip, use your fingertips from both hands to mold the nose area to the shape of your nose.
  4. Adjust the Respirator – Place both hands over the respirator. Inhale quickly and then exhale. If you feel leakage from the nose, readjust the nosepiece; if leakage from the respirator edges, readjust the straps. Repeat until you get a proper seal. If you can’t get a proper seal, try another respirator.
  5. Wear the Respirator – Avoid touching the respirator while wearing
  6. Remove the Respirator – Wash your hands and remove from the back without touching the front
  7. Dispose of the Respirator – If the respirator does not need to be reused because of supply shortages, discard it in a closed-bin waste receptacle. Wash your hands

Download the Seven Steps to Correctly Wear a Respirator at Work poster here

OSHA has also provided an instructional video:

workers

Rhode Island Provides Guidelines to Reopen – Is Your Business Ready?

COVID-19 continues to have a major negative impact on the nation’s economy. Many businesses continue to struggle. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the U.S. economy lost over 20 million jobs in April with the unemployment rate spiking to 14.7 percent, the worst since the Great Depression.

The New York Times provides an interactive guide showing each state’s stage of opening and reported more than half the states have started to reopen their economies in some meaningful way or have plans to do so soon, raising concerns among public health experts about a possible surge in new infections and deaths.

The guide reveals that businesses in many states are reopening but under restrictions, such as allowing fewer customers, adding social distancing measures, and requiring workers and customers to wear masks.

Rhode Island’s 3 Phase Plan to Reopen

Many states are currently working on guidelines to assist businessowners and residents safely open their business and begin to return to some form of normalcy.

Rhode Island recently released its comprehensive plan – REOPENING RI: CHARTING THE COURSE

The plan consists of three phases to weather the storm and begin to reopen the economy. Here are some highlights from the plan:

Phase 1: Testing the Water

The stay at home order is lifted, but social gatherings are limited to 10 people. Older adults (65+) and those with underlying health conditions can go to work and go out for food or medicine. But in accordance with federal public health guidance, vulnerable individuals are strongly encouraged to otherwise stay home.

Phase 2: Navigating Our Way

In the second phase, more businesses are reopening, and restrictions are further relaxed. Expanded childcare options will be available under strict public health guidelines. More restaurants, retail and close-contact businesses like hair and nail salons may open. Additional recreational options will likely return including more parks and beaches, but restrictions remain. Social gathering limits increase to 15 people.

Phase 3: Picking Up Speed

Schools begin reopening with restrictions. Offices, restaurants, retail and other businesses will lift some of the tightest restrictions to allow more people in at one time but will need to operate under long-term safety guidelines. Social gatherings are limited to 50 people. Older adults (65+) and those with underlying health conditions are no longer strongly encouraged to stay home.

In all phases, masks, vigilant hand-washing and increased cleaning must remain in place. And everyone who can work from home should still work from home. All activities must account for strong social distancing guidelines of remaining 6-feet apart.

Phase I: General Business Guideline Highlights

New measures are being put into place for businesses to reopen in Rhode Island. They are asking businesses to develop a plan to keep their workers, customers, and visitors safe, which includes:

COVID-19 Control Plan
All businesses, including those that are currently operating, develop a written COVID-19 Control Plan outlining how their workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. Businesses may obtain a template for the COVID-19 Control Plan here

Access Screening
Businesses must screen all entrants for self-reported symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and other COVID-19 risk factors upon entering the building. Screenings can be conducted verbally, by app, by phone, or by another method of the employer’s choosing.

Additional Information and Guidelines

Below are important links on guidelines for businesses and organizations to begin reopening in Rhode Island:

General Workplace Guidelines

General business highlights and explanations

General business guidelines

COVID-19 control plan template

Compliance attestation poster

Employer visual poster

Employee poster

Retail Stores

Non-critical retail checklist and sign

Non-critical retail guidance

Garden center guidance

Critical retail and grocers guidelines

We Can Help You Reopen Safely

Our bundled COVID 19 /Coronavirus services system allows for quickly screening and detecting individuals with an elevated temperature. Utilizing a thermal thermometer in conjunction with our mobile app, we provide a solution that will alert employers and the workforce when a scanned person’s temperature exceeds a predetermined threshold, allowing for immediate intervention and protective measures.

We have furthered our efforts by creating a COVID 19 Training Webinars. We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.

If you need assistance in your plan to reopen your business, please contact us today to learn more.

workers wearing mask

Face Masks are the new Frontline Protective Measure

As some states begin to relax their shelter-in-place orders and re-open businesses to spark the economy, more and more people will be out of their homes mingling for the first time in months. As pharmaceutical companies work to find a vaccine to prevent this disease – keep in mind, there currently is no cure – people are clamoring to return to work.

As we all know, the work environment has changed. A quick visit to the grocery store will solidify the fact that people are concerned not only about staying safe but spreading a disease they may or may not have.

Face masks, once a covering mostly seen while visiting a hospital, have become the new go-to preventative safety tool.

The CDC reports that; a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.  This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. 

Many States Now Require Wearing Face Coverings in Public

On April 18th Rhode Island made it mandatory for all employees of construction businesses, and manufacturers to wear cloth face masks while at work. And these businesses are mandated to provide face coverings for their employees. Face coverings can include scarves, bandanas, and other homemade and non-factory-made masks. Rhode Island also provides guidance on wearing face masks at work.

While many states do require wearing face coverings in pubic, some states do not. This can cause confusion among people as to what is expected as the proper way to navigate in public settings.

CDC Provides Guidance on Wearing Masks

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. And while wearing a mask does not protect you, it can help protect others. They also still recommend you stay at least 6 feet away from other people (social distancing), frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing.

Safety Measures for Your Workplace

Face masks are becoming the new normal for all work environments. And while masks can help stop the spread of the virus, many more safety measures will need to be initiated to ensure your working environment provides the level of safety for workers and customers expect.

We’ve developed two Safety Service programs to help you stay current with state and local government safety mandates:

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.