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Going Back to Work? Considerations for Owners and Managers to Protect Employees, Tenants and Contractors
We are not out of the woods yet, as the health risks from the COVID-19 pandemic remain. However, the phased opening of our economy and the opportunity to return to work is a measured and controlled path that appears to make sense. Though, this will put those returning workers’ health (and their family’s health) at risk.
Therefore, it is incumbent on building and business owners/managers to do what they can to make returning to the workplace as safe as possible. Planning, monitoring, and communication will be the cornerstones of creating a safe work environment to minimize the health risks associated with this virus.
Step one in restarting a commercial building water system is an assessment. It is imperative you know your water system; its piping configuration and end uses. The objective of the procedure is to flush the entire water system and the effectiveness of this flush/disinfection will be compromised if any portion of the system is not fully flushed.
This week, America’s businesses are grappling with the idea of re-opening and returning to some form of normalcy, whatever that is, following the many impacts of COVID-19 on our nation’s health and economy. This return is particularly difficult for the nation’s smaller businesses, especially those that deal with customers and members of the public.
The “new normal,” as social distancing guidelines are relaxed, will be focused on practical methods to prevent pathogen transmission and aimed at protecting public health. As the demand for our hands-on classroom certification and educational training in occupational health, safety, industrial hygiene and environmental compliance rapidly “returns to normal,” EI has developed a plan, aimed at providing a safe classroom environment to our students.
Reopening Business: “Guidelines for Minimizing Occupational COVID-19 Transmission as Social Distancing is Relaxed”
Once your community is no longer requiring significant mitigation policies in response to COVID-19, social distancing will be gradually relaxed. This prudent “step by step” approach should also be followed when re-staffing business operations.
Under normal circumstances, OSHA would require employers to determine work-relatedness in order to decide if an injury or illness should be recorded on the OSHA 300 (the Log). Making that determination was not, in most cases, very difficult.
Is your operation classified as an “essential business” during “Stay at Home” social distancing policies which have been implemented by over 40 states nationwide? Have you identified key employees necessary at the workplace to keep your business viable during the pandemic? If so, your operation is faced with the tremendous responsibility of minimizing the potential for employee-to-employee transmission of the coronavirus. Identification of workers with COVID-19 symptoms or employees who may have been exposed to known carriers is paramount in minimizing viral transmission within your workforce.
There has been a great deal of confusion and misinformation lately regarding the use of respirators as a safeguard from COVID-19. The most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that wearing some type of face mask may prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, but offers little protection from contracting the disease.
The pathogen occupying all of our thoughts at present is transmitted from person-to-person primarily via virus-impacted droplets that are generated when infected persons cough, sneeze or speak. Studies have found that the COVID-19 virus can remain viable on surfaces for several hours up to days, including up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
EI has been closely monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and documenting its progress and impact in a series of blogs beginning late January. Early in this series we addressed the importance of updating corporate business contingency plans to include key strategies which address the impact of COVID-19 on employees/business operations. EI’s third blog addressed proper personal protective equipment to minimize exposure to the pathogen, including a comparison of the effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks.
EPCRA Reporting Requirements: Is Your Company Subject to Annual Tier II and Toxic Release Inventory Reporting Basics?
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was passed in 1986 in response to concerns regarding the environmental and safety hazards posed by the storage and handling of toxic chemicals. These concerns were triggered by the 1984 disaster in Bhopal, India, caused by an accidental release of methylisocyanate. The release killed or severely injured more than 2,000 people.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), enacted in 1976, is the principal Federal law in the United States governing the proper management and disposal of hazardous waste. The law describes the waste management program mandated by Congress that gave the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to develop the RCRA program.
As the virus (newly dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization) accelerates and spreads beyond Chinese borders, businesses are deploying increasingly rigorous measures to limit the spread of the potential pandemic. Most news articles covering the spread of the virus include photos of travelers or government officials wearing surgical masks. But how effective will surgical masks for respiratory protection from the pathogen turn out to be? Is a surgical mask enough or is an N95 respirator needed?
Part II: Business Contingency Planning For the Wuhan Coronavirus Pandemic – Is Your Corporation Prepared?
Just one week ago, The EI Group updated our blog recipients on the state of the emerging coronavirus. In just one week, mortality has vastly exceeded the SARS virus (349 versus 560 coronavirus fatalities). Reported cases of the coronavirus have eclipsed 28,000, nearly a seven-fold increase in only one week! In contrast, the entire SARS outbreak resulted in only 5,327 infected.
Part I: Business Contingency Planning For the Wuhan Coronavirus Pandemic – Is Your Corporation Prepared?
News about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), commonly known as the “Wuhan Coronavirus,” has dominated the headlines for days now. Over 4,500 cases have now been confirmed in Mainland China and 106 people are dead as the death toll continues to rise. The virus has some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients have reportedly not had exposure to the animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart stops beating and without immediate assistance, the person will ultimately die where they fell. SCA is far different than a person experiencing a heart attack. A person suffering a heart attack may have chest pain, trouble breathing, and become nauseated and sweaty. If these symptoms are recognized quickly and the person is treated in a hospital, statistics show that 90% of heart attack victims will survive.
The face of occupational health and safety is changing. Many manufacturing facilities have realized that having a paramedic on-site has many benefits. Paramedics today are stepping into the occupational healthh setting by staffing on-site clinics and providing medical care to employees, completing Job Hazard Analyses (JHA’s) and finding new and innovative ways to manage a safe work environment.
A colleague recently received a pair of noise cancelling headphones as a gift during the holiday season. In an office surrounded by the buzz of phones, printers, and watercooler discussions of the latest binge-worthy shows; I decided to mask my jealousy by researching...
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of over 4,000 different man-made chemicals that include PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), GenX (trade name), and many others. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a wide variety of industries around the world since the 1940s, including carpet, furniture, water-resistant outdoor gear, firefighting foam and non-stick cookware.
As we sit around the table with friends and family this Thanksgiving listening to the stories, laughter, and maybe even the occasional groan-worthy dad joke (“What is a turkey’s favorite dessert? …… peach gobbler!”), we should be thankful for our hearing. Hearing loss can make family gatherings frustrating and anxiety provoking for all people involved.
Deep Breath: Respiratory Protection in the Growing COVID-19 Epidemic
February 13, 2020
RCRA Requirements: Does Your Facility Generate Hazardous Waste?
February 19, 2020
Minimizing Airborne Exposure to COVID-19 in Buildings
March 23, 2020
Is COVID-19 Recordable on the OSHA 300 Log?
April 15, 2020
Training Students in the Era of COVID-19
May 7, 2020