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.

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.

 

 

 

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

 

Safety Advisory Notice

To keep our clients informed and safe, we are providing information on a recent recall notice from 3M™. If you are using these products, please read this announcement and follow the steps provided.

3M™ recently issued a notice to immediately stop using TR-6510N and TR-6530N Cartridges. These cartridges are used with the 3M™ Versaflo™ TR-600 and TR-800 Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs).

The reason for the stop and return announcement was based on 3M™ internal testing which showed that they may not pass the NIOSH requirements for HEPA particulate filters of at least 99.97% filtration efficiency. The TR-6510N and TR-6530N cartridges of concern may have a filter penetration of up to approximately 2% (filter efficiency of approximately 98%), which is below the relevant NIOSH requirements. The gas and vapor portion of these cartridges continues to meet the NIOSH requirements.

3M™ asks that you please review your inventory immediately to determine if you have affected product. If you have any of the affected product in question, please visit: go.3m.com/TRcartridge for return and replacement.

Please note that this stop use and return notice applies only to the 3M™ TR-6510N and TR-6530N cartridges and does not affect any other 3M™ powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) cartridges, filters, components, or assemblies/kits.

View Frequently Asked Questions here

If you have any concerns about the safety of your equipment, please contact us.

 

Factory workers with face mask protect from outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19. Concept of protective action and quarantine to stop spreading of Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19.

Employees Sue Employers Over COVID-19 Safety

As states continue with reopening plans, Coronavirus has not subsided. In fact, in many states, the rate of infection is increasing at an alarming rate. While the CDC provides recommendations on ways to protect yourself and others, not everyone is adhering to the guidance.

In one hard-hit region, Las Vegas, casino workers sued several casinos after reports that many workers fell ill to COVID-19. The lawsuit complains that the casinos did not require workers to wear face masks.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, is against the owners of Harrah’s, MGM Grand and Bellagio casinos. It claims the companies continued operations of their food-and-beverage outlets and other areas after learning of positive cases and that it did not inform employees when co-workers tested positive and did not provide adequate contact-trace before allowing colleagues of infected employees to return to the job.

6 Ways to Protect the Health of Your Employees

1. Encourage sick employees to stay home.
Coronavirus spreads from person-to-person very easily. If an employee becomes sick, whether from COVID-19 or not, it is best to have the employee stay home. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person while close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. To avoid the risk of spreading the disease to other employees and to customers, it is best practice to have a sick employee stay home and self-quarantine.

2. Develop flexible work schedules and continue work from home, if possible.
Since the virus spreads easily person-to-person and most people who test positive may be asymptomatic (showing no signs of or very mild signs of illness), allowing for flexible work schedules and work from home policies may lessen the physical contact between employees and customers. This act may help slow the spread and keep employees safe while working.

3. Promote proper hygiene and etiquette.
It is suggested that this virus can spread through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking. Proper hygiene is key to possibly reducing the spread. All employees should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after they have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Promote proper hygiene by having soap and water available for all employees, as well as hand sanitizers and face masks.

4. Perform routine environmental cleaning.
As employees and customers begin to physically interact, proving a safe and clean work environment will be critical to stopping the virus spread. Be sure to routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, countertops, handrails, and doorknobs. Also, discourage employees from sharing of tools and equipment, if feasible.

5. Utilize Onsite Medical Services.
To help prevent on-the-job injuries, reduce workers’ compensation costs, and ensure occupational health compliance, and avoid OSHA fines, utilizing on-site health and safety services can help to treat injuries quickly can help avoid unnecessary and excessive off-site referrals, treatments, and prescriptions. Minor injuries can be resolved on-site, as well, allowing workers to return to productive work quicker. More serious cases are recognized sooner so they can receive appropriate diagnoses and treatment.

6. Provide access to training and educational material.
Keeping employees informed on the latest safety protocols is good practice. The more your employees know, the better informed they are about the risk of spread and how best to handle the work environment to help keep everyone safe. Have posters and fact sheets available for employees to easily access. Also, encourage employees to take additional training courses. There are numerous online courses available to educate employees on how to protect themselves from the virus.

There is still much we do not know about this virus; these simple steps can help. Implementing them now can help to provide a safer work environment and possibly help to reduce your risk of a business lawsuit or an insurance claim.
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.

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.

Safety Protective Work Equipment. Yellow Helmet, Glasses, Gloves and Mask. Protection Gear Closeup.

June is National Safety Month

As businesses begin to reopen and employees start returning to work, now, more than ever, safety is crucial both inside and outside the workplace. In concert with the National Safety Council, we’re recognizing June as National Safety Month®. National Safety Month focuses on saving lives and preventing injuries, from the workplace to anyplace.

Share the Safety Message in June

To help spread the word about National Safety Month, we’re sharing recent information on relevant safety topics. Here are articles and a recent webinar related to safety:

Simple Guidelines for All Workers and Employers to Stay Safe from COVID-19

Why You Should Consider a Safety Professional

Prevent Construction Struck-By Fatalities by Implementing Proper Safety Techniques

The importance of Ariel Lift Safety Training

On June 11th, we hosted a webinar: What Employers Need To Know About Covid-19 Testing & Acclerating The Return To Work. Which provided tips on keeping the workplace safe for employees and customers Topics included:

  • How do employers verify employees’ health status?
  • What type of documentation is required?
  • Are thermometers and other testing protocols even available?
  • What other protocols are required, like wearing masks and conducting health screening, temperature screening and latest anti-body testing options?
  • What if employees refuse to come back claiming the workplace is unsafe?

Watch it free here

Safety Training Courses

Safety training courses can help you obtain necessary OSAH certifications, expand your skillset and knowledge, and stay current with industry safety trends and requirements. We offer online, onsite, and public classes safety training programs.

Choose the right safety course and training that fits your schedule. Enroll in our online courses during your downtime and save 20% by using code: STAYSAFE

Safety Consulting Services

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 the safety of your workplace, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect your employees and keep your business open.

 

tempature-screening2

MA / RI / CT Employers may have to cease operations COVID 19 / Coronavirus

According to a recent article in SouthCoastToday – Blue Harvest Fisheries of New Bedford, MA, was ordered to shut down and cease operations by the city’s Board of Health. This order went into effect after three employees there tested positive for COVID-19 with a 14-day period.

The order also calls for the company to have a designated COVID-19 Health and Safety officer in charge of recording staff temperatures at the beginning and end of their shifts, communicating COVID-19- related information to the city’s Health Department, ensuring all staff wear face coverings and shields and stay at least six feet apart from one another on the production line, and ensuring culturally and linguistically appropriate COVID-19 safety information is displayed in conspicuous locations throughout the facility.

Food processing companies across the country have seen cases of COVID-19

Blue Harvest Fisheries is not the only food processing company to be hit by COVID-19.

A Washington Post investigation has found three of the nation’s largest meat processors failed to provide protective gear to all workers, and some employees say they were told to continue working in crowded plants even while sick as the coronavirus spread around the country and turned the facilities into infection hot spots.

Tyson Foods, JBS USA and Smithfield Foods have closed 15 processing plants due to improper social distancing and the lack of personal protective equipment.

COVID-19 safety testing measures are the “new normal”

With the urge to start reopening our economy, many states are starting to ease the stay-at-home mandate and allowing certain businesses to reopen.

As we all feel the need to get back to work and restart our economy, we must realize that as we do this, business as usual will be anything but normal.  Many new safety measures will need to be in place and adhered to for both employees and customers to feel comfortable enough to go back to work and shop our local businesses.

After speaking with our corporate, construction, retail, educational, and sports league’s leaders, we have determined that fever screenings are becoming the “new normal” and are being built into the workforce and visitor access protocols for the long term.

As you know, employee protection, business continuity, customer service, and service excellence are at the core of what we do at OccuMed of New England. Fitting into these core values is the recent development of our newest service package which is to bring our paramedic staff and fever screening device, to our current and future customers and partners.   

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers, and public safety organizations are implementing temperature screening policies as they prepare for the re-opening of the workplace and public buildings that have been ordered to close in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Forehead thermometers have been traditionally used for this practice. We have coupled the temperature monitoring with our proven compliance auditing software to administer an efficient method which does not put our screeners at risk and does not perpetuate the possibility of cross-contamination due to close contact within the workspace.

COVID-19 Safety Services to Protect Your Workers and Customers

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 / Coronavirus written administrative policy process, training solutions and inspection processes that will ensure our current and future customers and partners are not at risk of jeopardizing their employee’s health and wellbeing or their ability to continue to operate in a safe and profitable manner

The following is included in our service package individually or bundled:

  1. COVID-19 written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.
  2. Daily On-site medical monitoring briefing at the start of each shift on current COVID-19 concerns.
  3. Daily administration of a COVID-19 acknowledgment form to each employee verifying their understanding of the requirements of the COVID-19 guidelines; this process also includes the individual monitoring of employee’s body temperatures along with a verification that the employee has not had any symptoms of COVID-19 or has come in contact with any individuals that have tested positive for COVID-19. (Testing is completed with FDA approved equipment and under FDA testing periodicals).
  4. Sitewide COVID-19 compliance audit to assure each the contractor on-site is meeting the requirements.
  5. COVID-19 audit summary report for an audit conducted at the project site.
  6. Incident Reporting: If in any case in an employee is found to be showing the signs or symptoms of COVID-19 our on-site representative will follow through with a full investigation which includes an incident report.
  7. Training Services: As part of the services we offer our clients training on infectious control for site supervisors, that will be responsible for monitoring for COVID-19 compliance and conditions outside of OccuMed’s daily audit/inspection.
  8. Record Retention: OccuMed will maintain all records of the services including the daily reports, individual acknowledgment forms (which include the temperatures), and any investigation reports are conducted.

If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, learn more about our custom COVID-19 Safety Consulting Services and contact us directly to talk with our team today.

OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
Ten Steps All Workplaces Can Take to Reduce Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus
Coronavirus Fact Sheet
Coronavirus Symptoms
Help Stop the Spread
Public Health Management Decision-Making

woman worker with mask

Simple Guidelines for All Workers and Employers to Stay Safe from COVID-19

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

As the numbers of people affected with COVID-19 seem to be leveling off in some areas, now is not the time to become complacent. In time, we all hope, the economy will rebound, and people will resume their “normal” daily lives.

However, for those workers whose job are considered essential and are unable to adhere to the shelter in place guidance, the risk of infection is still a major concern.

Below we’ve compiled a quick list of simple steps to take while on the jobsite to remain safe.

Before we discuss these steps, let’s recap about what we’re all dealing with…

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in humans and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people, such as with MERS and SARS. COVID-19 is spreading person-to-person in China and some limited person-to-person transmission has been reported in countries outside China, including the United States. However, respiratory illnesses like seasonal influenza, are currently widespread in many US communities.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 Infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can cause illness ranging from mild to severe and, in some cases, can be fatal. Symptoms typically include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Some people infected with the virus have reported experiencing other non-respiratory symptoms. Other people, referred to as asymptomatic cases, have experienced no symptoms at all. According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

General Guidance for All Workers and Employers

According to OSHA, employers should adopt infection control strategies based on a thorough hazard assessment, using appropriate combinations of engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent worker exposures.

For all workers, regardless of specific exposure risks, it is always a good practice to:

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands that are visibly soiled.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Practice good respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if sick.
  • Recognize personal risk factors. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain people, including older adults and those with underlying conditions such as heart or lung disease or diabetes, are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19.

Simple Steps to Take to Stay Safe

  1. Identify and Isolate Suspected Cases

Prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical first step in protecting workers, visitors, and others at the worksite.

2. Clean and Decontaminate the Work Environment

Carefully evaluate whether or not work areas occupied by people suspected to have the virus may have been contaminated and whether or not they need to be decontaminated in response.

3. Properly Train Workers

Teach them about the sources of exposure to the virus, the hazards associated with that exposure, and appropriate workplace protocols in place to prevent or reduce the likelihood of exposure.

4. Initiate Professional Safety Training Programs

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.

Download Further Information:

OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
Ten Steps All Workplaces Can Take to Reduce Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus
Coronavirus Fact Sheet
Coronavirus Symptoms
Help Stop the Spread
Public Health Management Decision-Making

checklistv2

Coronavirus Checklist to Protect Your Company

As the Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the World economy, business owners are struggling to keep the lights on. If your business has been impacted, here are steps you can take to protect your business and keep it running.

A recent Bloomberg article; The Coronavirus Checklist: Nine Steps to Protect Your Company, provides insight into creating a crisis management plan. The spoke with a dozen crisis planning and supply chain experts about how to prepare for continued complications from the coronavirus, as well as future disruptions. Here are the recommended steps:

  1. Have a Plan in Place (or craft one quickly) – this will help to keep your business running. The Bloomberg article suggests the following:

    Emergency response and safety. This is making sure people and facilities are safe.
    Crisis management and communications. Analyzing the situation and informing staff, media, suppliers, and customers of the crisis and the plan.
    IT recovery. The tech department protects corporate information, hardware, and software.
    Business continuity. Keeping essential operations running.
  2. Establish workplace redundancy – consider off-site and online options as backups for your business files and products
  3. Update your HR guidelines – include remote work rules, family medical leave allowances, and a communicable illness policy
  4. Identify critical operations – figure out your critical needs, such as raw materials or subcontractors, and plan for how you would maintain those supplies and relationships.
  5. Assemble skeleton staffs – in the event if critical personnel are unable to work, have others ready to step in
  6. Work those connections with companies you rely on – communicate with key customers and suppliers to build on your personal relationships, and leverage when/if needed
  7. Defuse your supply chain time bomb – start building up backups to supplies needed, then start building backups to those backups. Supply chains are strained enough, now is the time to build a buffer.
  8. Think creatively – If your inventory is held up, do you have alternative markets to sell in? If not, start thinking about alternatives

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.

Download Further Information:

Coronavirus Fact Sheet
Coronavirus Symptoms
Help Stop the Spread
Public Health Management Decision-Making

coughing construction worker-min

Recording Workplace Exposures to COVID-19

If your employee contracts Covid-19 at work, is it recordable on your OSHA log?

Here is what OSHA is saying:

Recording workplace exposures to COVID-19

OSHA recordkeeping requirements at 29 CFR Part 1904 mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log.

COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following are met:

  1. The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see CDC information on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19);
  2. The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
  3. The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g. medical treatment beyond first-aid, days away from work).

Visit OSHA’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements page for more information. 

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.

Download Further Information:

Coronavirus Fact Sheet
Coronavirus Symptoms
Help Stop the Spread
Public Health Management Decision-Making

COVID-19-handwashing

COVID-19 Outbreak in the US – Steps To Take To Stay Safe

As the coronavirus continues to spread, not only abroad but also here in the United States, and treatment has not yet been identified, the CDC recommends the following steps to remain vigilant.

Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

The public health guidelines from the CDC’s risk assessment guidelines for workplaces recommend that people with low-risk exposures to SARS-CoV-2 do not need to be restricted from public places, including workplaces, as long as they remain asymptomatic.

Asymptomatic people with low-risk exposures are advised to self-observe until 14 days after their last potential exposure. Employers may choose to recommend that employees with low-risk exposures check their temperature to ensure they are still asymptomatic before arriving at the workplace.

People with confirmed COVID-19 should remain in isolation, either at home or in a healthcare facility as determined by clinical status, until they are determined by state or local public health authorities in coordination with CDC to be no longer infectious.

The location of isolation will be determined by public health authorities and isolation may be compelled by public health order, if necessary.

Asymptomatic people with medium-risk exposures are recommended to avoid congregate settings, limit public activities, and practice social distancing.

Employers may consider on a case-by-case basis, after consultation with state or local public health authorities, whether asymptomatic employees with medium-risk exposures may be able to work onsite. These decisions should take into account whether individual employees’ work responsibilities and locations allow them to remain separate from others during the entire workday.

Asymptomatic employees with medium-risk exposures who are permitted to work onsite should not enter crowded workplace locations such as meeting spaces or cafeterias.

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

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.

Now that COVID-19 has reached the U.S., employers need to plan to be able to respond in a flexible way to varying levels of severity and be prepared to refine their business response plans as needed. 

For the general American public, such as workers in non-healthcare settings and where it is unlikely that work tasks create an increased risk of exposures to COVID-19, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low. 

The CDC and its partners continue to monitor national and international data on the severity of illness caused by COVID-19 and will disseminate the results of these ongoing surveillance assessments, while making additional recommendations as needed.

Planning Considerations 

All employers need to consider how best to decrease the spread of acute respiratory illness and lower the impact of COVID-19 in their workplace. They should identify and communicate their objectives, which may include one or more of the following: 

(a) reducing transmission among staff, 

(b) protecting people who are at higher risk for adverse health complications, 

(c) maintaining business operations, and 

(d) minimizing adverse effects on other entities in their supply chains. 

Some of the key considerations when making decisions on appropriate responses are:

1. Disease severity (i.e., number of people who are sick, hospitalization and death rates) in the community where the business is located;

2. Impact of disease on employees that are vulnerable and may be at higher risk for COVID-19 adverse health complications. Inform employees that some people may be at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. 

3. Prepare for possible increased numbers of employee absences due to illness in employees and their family members, dismissals of early childhood programs and K-12 schools due to high levels of absenteeism or illness:

  • Employers should plan to monitor and respond to absenteeism at the workplace. Implement plans to continue your essential business functions in case you experience higher than usual absenteeism.
  • Cross-train personnel to perform essential functions so that the workplace is able to operate even if key staff members are absent.
  • Assess your essential functions and the reliance that others and the community have on your services or products.
  • Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize customers, or temporarily suspend some of your operations if needed).

4. Employers with more than one business location are encouraged to provide local managers with the authority to take appropriate actions outlined in their business infectious disease outbreak response plan based on the condition in each locality.  

5. Coordination with state external and local external health officials is strongly encouraged for all businesses so that timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each location where their operations reside. 

Since the intensity of an outbreak may differ according to geographic location, local health officials will be issuing guidance specific to their communities.

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.

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.

All employers should be ready to implement strategies to protect their workforce from COVID-19 while ensuring continuity of operations.

During a COVID-19 outbreak, all sick employees should stay home and away from the workplace, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene should be encouraged, and routine cleaning of commonly touched surfaces should be performed regularly.

Employers should:

  1. Ensure your Infectious Disease Outbreak Response plan is flexible and involve your employees in developing and reviewing your plan.
  2. Conduct a focused discussion or exercise using your plan, to find out ahead of time whether the plan has gaps or problems that need to be corrected.
  3. Share your plan with employees and explain what human resources policies, workplace and leave flexibilities, and pay and benefits will be available to them.
  4. Share best practices with other businesses in your communities (especially those in your supply chain), chambers of commerce, and associations to improve community response efforts.

Recommendations for an Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan

Identify possible work-related exposure and health risks to your employees. OSHA has more information on how to protect workers from potential exposures external to COVID-19 at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/.

Review human resources policies to make sure that policies and practices are consistent with public health recommendations and are consistent with existing state and federal workplace laws (for more information on employer responsibilities, visit the Department of Labor’s and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s websites).

Explore whether you can establish policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), to increase the physical distance among employees and between employees and others if state and local health authorities recommend the use of social distancing strategies. For employees who are able to telework, supervisors should encourage employees to telework instead of coming into the workplace until symptoms are completely resolved. Ensure that you have the information technology and infrastructure needed to support multiple employees who may be able to work from home.

Identify essential business functions, essential jobs or roles, and critical elements within your supply chains (e.g., raw materials, suppliers, subcontractor services/products, and logistics) required to maintain business operations. Plan for how your business will operate if there is increasing absenteeism or these supply chains are interrupted.

Set up authorities, triggers, and procedures for activating and terminating the company’s infectious disease outbreak response plan, altering business operations (e.g., possibly changing or closing operations in affected areas), and transferring business knowledge to key employees. Work closely with your local health officials to identify these triggers.

Plan to minimize exposure between employees and also between employees and the public, if public health officials call for social distancing.

Establish a process to communicate information to employees and business partners on your infectious disease outbreak response plans and latest COVID-19 information. Anticipate employee fear, anxiety, rumors, and misinformation, and plan communications accordingly.

In some communities, early childhood programs and K-12 schools may be dismissed, particularly if COVID-19 worsens. Determine how you will operate if absenteeism spikes from increases in sick employees, those who stay home to care for sick family members, and those who must stay home to watch their children if dismissed from school. Businesses and other employers should prepare to institute flexible workplace and leave policies for these employees. Local conditions will influence the decisions that public health officials make regarding community-level strategies; employers should take the time now to learn about plans in place in each community where they have a business.

Now that the COVID-19 outbreak has reached the US, consider canceling non-essential business travel to additional countries per travel guidance on the CDC website. Travel restrictions may be enacted by other countries which may limit the ability of employees to return home if they become sick while on travel status.

Consider cancelling large work-related meetings or events.

Engage state external and local external health departments to confirm channels of communication and methods for dissemination of local outbreak information.

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.

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.

Download Further Information:

Coronavirus Fact Sheet
Coronavirus Symptoms
Help Stop the Spread
Public Health Management Decision-Making