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OSHA COVID-19 Guidance Advises Wearing Masks in Workplace

As cases of COVID-19 continue to spike across the country and many jurisdictions have begun to require the use of face coverings in public, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has unveiled and updated its Frequently Asked Questions discussing masks in the workplace.
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According to OSHA wearing a surgical mask/face covering is safe for most people.

Medical masks, including surgical masks, are routinely worn by healthcare workers throughout the day as part of their personal protective equipment (PPE) ensembles and do not compromise their oxygen levels or cause carbon dioxide buildup. They are designed to be breathed through and can protect against respiratory droplets, which are typically much larger than tiny carbon dioxide particles. Consequently, most carbon dioxide particles will either go through the mask or escape along the mask’s loose-fitting perimeter. Some carbon dioxide might collect between the mask and the wearer’s face, but not at unsafe levels.

Like medical masks, cloth face coverings are loose-fitting with no seal and are designed to be breathed through. In addition, workers may easily remove their medical masks or cloth face coverings periodically (and when not in close proximity with others) to eliminate any negligible build-up of carbon dioxide that might occur. Cloth face coverings and medical masks can help prevent the spread of potentially infectious respiratory droplets from the wearer to their co-workers, including when the wearer has COVID-19 and does not know it.

However OSHA reminds us that surgical masks and cloth face coverings are not effective respiratory protection in the construction industry.

Employers must not use surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed.

In general, employers should always rely on a hierarchy of controls that first includes efforts to eliminate or substitute out workplace hazards and then uses engineering controls (e.g., ventilation, wet methods), administrative controls (e.g., written procedures, modification of task duration), and safe work practices to prevent worker exposures to respiratory hazards, before relying on personal protective equipment, such as respirators. When respirators are needed, OSHA’s guidance describes enforcement discretion around use of respirators, including in situations in which it may be necessary to extend the use of or reuse certain respiratorsuse respirators beyond their manufacturer’s recommended shelf life, and/or use respirators certified under the standards of other countries or jurisdictions.

McCraren Compliance can help. We offer Respiratory Protection Training and Fit Testing required by OSHA.

Study links physical stress on the job to cognitive decline, memory loss later in life

Study links physical stress on the job to cognitive decline, memory loss later in life

Photo: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStockphoto

 Physically demanding work may lead to poor memory and faster aging of the brain among older adults, results of a recent study led by researchers from Colorado State University show.

The research team studied 99 adults between the ages of 60 and 79 who were cognitively healthy – clear of psychiatric and neurologic illness, plus no history of stroke; transient ischemic attack, also known as a “mini-stroke”; or head trauma. By using brain images of the participants and an occupational survey about their most recent job, the researchers found that those who reported high levels of physical stress on the job had a smaller hippocampus – the region of the brain associated with memory – and performed worse on memory-related tasks. Examples of physically demanding work included excessive reaching or lifting of boxes onto shelves.

“We know that stress can accelerate physical aging and is the risk factor for many chronic illnesses,” lead researcher Aga Burzynska, an assistant professor in the department of human development and family studies at CSU, said in a July 16 press release. “But this is the first evidence that occupational stress can accelerate brain and cognitive aging.”

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average full-time worker spends nearly 8.6 hours a day on the job and around 40 years in the workforce. Therefore, occupational experiences are likely to play a role in cognitive health and brain aging because they occur long term, the researchers noted.

“By pure volume, occupational exposures outweigh the time we spend on leisure social, cognitive and physical activities, which protect our aging minds and brains,” Burzynska said.

The study was published online July 15 in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

U.S. Department of Labor cites Ohio nursing homes for failing to fully protect residents from COVID-19

The DOL says that several Ohio care facilities, failed to provide the proper respirator programs.

The DOL says that several Ohio care facilities, failed to provide the proper respirator programs.

OSHA has cited healthcare company OHNH EMP LLC for violating respiratory protection standards following an inspection initiated after the company reported the coronavirus-related hospitalization of seven employees.

OSHA inspected three OHNH EMP facilities in Ohio: Pebble Creek Healthcare Center in Akron, and Salem West Healthcare Center and Salem North Healthcare Center in Salem. OSHA cited each location for a serious violation of two respiratory protection standards: failing to develop a comprehensive written respiratory protection program and failing to provide medical evaluations to determine employees’ ability to use a respirator in the workplace. OSHA also issued a Hazard Alert Letter regarding the company’s practice of allowing N95 respirator use for up to seven days and not conducting initial fit testing. The agency has proposed $40,482 in penalties.

“It is critically important that employers take action to protect their employees during the pandemic, including by implementing effective respiratory protection programs,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “OSHA has and will continue to vigorously enforce the respiratory protection standard and all standards that apply to the coronavirus. As Secretary Scalia has said, ‘the cop is on the beat.'” Read More»

 

 

FDA updates on hand sanitizers consumers should not use

Food and Drug Administration has again updated its list of hand sanitizers that it says that the consumers not use.
FDA has again updated its list of hand sanitizers that it says that the consumers not use.

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Food and Drug Administration has again updated its list of hand sanitizers that it says consumers should not use.

FDA test results show certain hand sanitizers have concerningly low levels of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, which are active ingredients in hand sanitizer products. The agency urges consumers not to use these subpotent products and has expanded its list to include subpotent hand sanitizers, in addition to hand sanitizers that are or may be contaminated with methanol

The agency continues to add certain hand sanitizers to import alert to stop these products from legally entering the U.S. market.

FDA reminds consumers to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose. If soap and water are not readily available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol (also referred to as ethyl alcohol).

FDA reminds consumers to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose. If soap and water are not readily available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol (also referred to as ethyl alcohol).

Additionally, FDA reminds consumers that no drugs, including hand sanitizers, are approved to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

OSHA Memorandum on when COVID is considered recordable for OSHA

This memorandum provides updated interim guidance to Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) for enforcing the requirements of 29 CFR Part 1904 with respect to the recording of occupational illnesses, specifically cases of COVID-19. On May 26, 2020, the previous memorandum on this topic[1] will be rescinded, and this new memorandum will go into and remain in effect until further notice. This guidance is intended to be time-limited to the current COVID-19 public health crisis. Please frequently check OSHA’s webpage at www.osha.gov/coronavirus for updates.

Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and thus employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19, if:

  1. The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);[2]
  2. The case is work-related as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5;[3] and
  3. The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR § 1904.7.[4]

Read More» 

Here is a link to a checklist for reporting occupational illness created by Dinsmore.

Recognize Safe + Sound Week, August 10-16, 2020

Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide event held each August that recognizes the successes of workplace health and safety programs and offers information and ideas on how to keep America’s workers safe.

Why Participate?
Successful safety and health programs can proactively identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury or illness, improving sustainability and the bottom line. Participating in Safe + Sound Week can help get your program started, energize an existing one, or provide a chance to recognize your safety successes.

Who Participates?
All organizations looking for an opportunity to recognize their commitment to safety are welcome to participate. Last year, more than 3,300 businesses helped to raise awareness about workers’ health and safety!

Safe + Sound Week August 10-16, 2020 - Management Leadership - Worker Participation - Find and Fix Hazards

Your team needs an empathetic leader during a crisis

Empathic is an important trade for leaders and especially during crisis. Following is an article of posted on SmartBrief.com

In these challenging times, many of my coaching clients are feeling deeply concerned about how to motivate and inspire their people. “How can I motivate someone who is immersed in fear and uncertainty?” they ask. In my coaching sessions, I’m working to help them effectively guide their people when they need a strong leader most.

During times of crisis, showing empathy for your staff and the broader world will help you pull together as a team and feel capable of moving through this challenging time together. Empathy helps you relate to one another on a personal level, showing you care deeply about each other as human beings. Thus, successfully navigating a crisis together can dramatically enhance trust and unity.

1. Practice emotional attunement

Frequently consider how your employees, coworkers and leaders are handling the current situation. How are they feeling? Take note of their body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. Make yourself more available to them by using open body language and eye contact. You’ll soon have a stronger grasp of how others feel at any given time, strengthening your relationships and enhancing your ability to lead your people.  Read More»

COVID-19 pandemic won’t stop some people from going to work sick, survey shows

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Photo: nito100/iStockphoto

London — Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 1 out of 14 workers say they’d go to work even if they feel sick and regardless of how severe their symptoms are, results of a recent survey show.

Commissioned by Thermalcheck, a manufacturer of no-contact temperature check stations, marketing research company One Poll surveyed 2,000 U.S. workers to learn how they’d handle their health when returning to the workplace during and after the pandemic. Nearly half said they feel pressure from their boss to go to work when sick. Feeling guilty was the leading motivator to work while sick.

Other findings:

  • 33% of the respondents said they’d keep working with cold or flu symptoms because they’d miss their colleagues, along with office banter and gossip.
  • More than one-third said they don’t usually consider their co-workers’ health when deciding to go to work when feeling ill.
  • A stomachache wouldn’t stop 52% of the respondents from reporting to work, while 40% said the same about a bad cough. Thirty-three percent said chest tightness wouldn’t keep them home.
  • 40% believe they’ve passed an illness to a co-worker as a consequence of trying to be viewed as a hard worker.

“Despite the pandemic and the advice to avoid others if you feel unwell, there are still a large number of workers who will feel they need to go into the workplace,” a Thermalcheck spokesman said in a statement. “This approach to working while unwell needs to change and employers need to ensure the safety of their workforce.”

Protecting construction, surface mining workers from silica dust: CPWR publishes new resources

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Photo: CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training

Silver Spring, MD — Three new resources from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training are intended to help prevent silica exposure among construction and surface mining workers who operate mobile equipment in enclosed cabs.

The hazard alert card, toolbox talk, and dealer/rental fact sheet are available in English and Spanish.

In the hazard alert, CPWR advises that, before work begins, cabs of mobile equipment be examined for issues with:
The air filtration system: Inspect filters for damage or airflow bypass.
The cab structure: Inspect daily for any holes, gaps or cracks around doors, windows, joints, controls and power-line entries. Silicone caulk or rubber gaskets can be used to repair and seal damaged areas.
Air pressure: Check the pressure gauge daily to ensure it’s working properly, and monitor the pressure throughout the workday to ensure positive air pressure is maintained and dusty air is kept out.

Enclosed cabs should have a communication system that allows operators to speak with other workers without having to open a door or window. Cabs should be cleaned and properly maintained to ensure proper working order of closing mechanisms, gaskets and all seals.

The toolbox talk tells the story of Grace and the result of her exposure to silica dust at work, and the fact sheet is designed to help businesses that rent or sell equipment understand the requirements of OSHA and Mine Safety and Health Administration standards on silica dust.

McCraren Compliance can help. We offer Silica training and Protection Plans required by OSHA.

Annual truck and bus brake inspection blitz to take place Aug. 23-29

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Photo: Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance

Greenbelt, MD — Commercial motor vehicle inspectors throughout North America will conduct both announced and unannounced brake system inspections Aug. 23-29 during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Brake Safety Week.

Inspectors are expected to place special emphasis on brake hoses and tubing during this year’s outreach and enforcement campaign.

Last year’s event resulted in 34,320 inspections and identified 4,626 vehicles (13.5%) with out-of-service conditions.

In a July 8 press release, CVSA President John Samis said vehicle and driver safety remain the “top priority” of the alliance, and conducting inspections is an especially vital task amid the COVID-19 pandemic as drivers transport essential goods.

“We need to do everything we can to ensure that the vehicles truck drivers are driving are as safe as possible,” Samis said. “Brakes are one of the most important systems in a vehicle. Failure of any component of a brake system could be catastrophic. Routine brake system inspections and component replacement are vital to the safety of commercial motor vehicles.”

The event, scheduled during Brake Safety Awareness Month, is part of CVSA’s Operation Airbrake campaign conducted in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.