Almost 25% of workers say their employers don’t offer COVID-19 safety training: survey

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Image result for social distance and mask trainingBannockburn, IL — Nearly 1 out of 4 workers don’t receive training on COVID-19 safety guidelines, according to a recent survey commissioned by compliance company Stericycle.

Researchers in September surveyed 1,000 U.S. adult workers who physically go to work at companies with at least 100 employees and 450 U.S. business leaders of organizations with 100-plus employees. Results show that 58% of the business leaders and 38% of the employees are concerned about contracting COVID-19 at work.

Nearly half of the business leaders (41%) don’t believe they can enforce COVID-19 safety guidelines, and 44% of the employees are concerned about co-workers not following safety protocol. Other results:

  • 79% of workers said they’d look for a new job if their employer didn’t offer training on COVID-19 safety guidelines.
  • 34% of workers would look for a new job if their employer didn’t take specific safety measures, such as providing personal protective equipment or ensuring physical distancing.
  • 45% of business leaders don’t think their safety measures are sufficiently proactive.
  • 27% of employees have been asked to provide their own PPE.

When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, 24% of the employees said they wouldn’t feel safe working near a colleague who wasn’t vaccinated, and almost half of the business leaders (48%) plan to offer a COVID-19 vaccine. In December, the National Safety Council released a statement urging employers to develop a COVID-19 vaccination plan.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Are remote workers ready to return to the workplace? Survey explores

ready to return to workplaceFirst published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

New York — Fewer than 3 out of 10 employees who are working remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic say they expect to return to their physical workplace by the end of the year, and some groups feel more pressure than others to do so, results of a recent survey suggest.

From Sept. 16 to 25, nonprofit think tank The Conference Board conducted an online survey of more than 1,100 U.S. workers across numerous industries to gain an understanding of employee readiness to return to the workplace during the pandemic. More than a quarter (28%) of the respondents indicated they expect to return to their workplace by Jan. 1, while 38% expect to do so in the new year or beyond. Only 7% expect to return after a vaccine is made widely available.

Most of the workers feel “moderately comfortable” (39%) or “very comfortable” (17%) about returning to the workplace, while 31% aren’t comfortable with the prospect of returning.

When it comes to feeling pressure to return to the workplace, more women (17%) responded affirmatively than men (10%). Women were also more likely to express concern over contracting COVID-19 (67% vs. 61%). Meanwhile, 20% of “individual contributors” and 21% of frontline managers feel pressure to return – much higher percentages than C-suite executives (4%).

Other findings:

  • 29% of respondents have “little faith” in their co-workers to follow proper health and safety protocols when returning to work.
  • The top three concerns about returning to the workplace: risk of contracting COVID-19 (51%); risk of exposing family members (49%); and lack of a safe, effective, available vaccine (40%).
  • 37% said they don’t know if their organization has a plan for safely returning employees to the workplace.

“These survey results reinforce the need for employers to hear concerns about the pressure that individual contributors and frontline managers, especially, feel to return to the workplace to keep their jobs,” Rebecca Ray, executive vice president of human capital at The Conference Board, said in an Oct. 8 press release. “These cohorts are less likely to be involved with planning the return. Without a continuous dialogue, and in many cases, the lack of a detailed plan about returning to the workplace, it comes as no surprise that these workers are more apprehensive.”


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Feeling blue? Take a walk by the water, researchers say

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Photo: Peter Berglund/iStockphoto

Barcelona, Spain — Walking along bodies of water might boost your overall health and mood, results of a recent study led by researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health suggest.

Over a period of three weeks, the researchers studied 59 healthy adult office workers before, during and after each spent 20 minutes a day in different environments, measuring their blood pressure and heart rate while assessing their mood via a questionnaire. For one week, the participants walked along a beach in Barcelona. For another week, they walked in an urban environment. For the next, they spent 20 minutes at rest indoors.

The results show that walking along “blue spaces” – areas such as beaches, lakes, rivers and fountains – immediately triggered “significantly improved well-being and mood responses.” They found no cardiovascular benefit, but point out that they assessed only short-term effects.

“Our results show that the psychological benefits of physical activity vary according to the type of environment where it is carried out, and that blue spaces are better than urban spaces in this regard,” Cristina Vert, lead study author and a researcher at the institute, said in a July 6 press release.

Short walks in blue spaces can benefit both well-being and mood. However, we did not observe a positive effect of blue spaces for any of the cardiovascular outcomes assessed in this study.

The study was published online June 19 in the journal Environmental Research.

 

How healthy is your home workstation? Researchers identify key ergo issues

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Cincinnati — Millions of people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic may be sitting at improperly arranged workstations that increase their risk of eye, head, neck, back, shoulder, wrist and forearm stress and strain injuries, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by University of Cincinnati researchers.

The researchers conducted an ergonomic assessment of 843 university faculty and staff members’ home workstations via an email survey. In addition, 41 employees submitted photos of their workstations for review. Identified as the top ergonomic issues concerning chairs were lack of lumbar support (73%), back support not being used (69%), seat was too hard (63%), and seat was too low or too high (43%).

Sitting in a chair that is the wrong height can result in elevated arms, leaning on the front edge of a desk and poor head position, the researchers noted. They added that back supports and softer seats help assist with proper posture, while not using armrests adds stress to the forearms and upper back.

Other ergonomics issues identified included poor lighting; work surfaces that had hard, sharp edges; and monitors positioned too high, too low or off to the side.

Among the biggest takeaways for Kermit Davis, lead study author and associate professor in the UC College of Medicine, is that those working at home should take a break about every 30 minutes to minimize the risk of injury.

“The body doesn’t like static postures continually,” Davis said in a July 28 press release. “You don’t want to do all sitting or all standing all the time. You want to alter your position and change it up throughout the day.”

Other recommendations:

  • Place a pillow on your seat if you need more height.
  • Use a rolled-up pillow or towel behind your back to provide lumbar/back support.
  • Move your chair closer to the desk or table to ensure your back is against the back of the chair.
  • Use books or a box to raise a laptop monitor to eye level.
  • Standing workstations should include a monitor at eye level, keyboard placed so your forearms are parallel to the ground, and a soft or rounded front edge to the working surface.

The study was published online July 3 in the journal Ergonomics in Design.

COVID-19 pandemic: OSHA answers FAQs on wearing masks at work

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Washington — New guidance from OSHA answers six frequently asked questions regarding the use of masks in the workplace during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the agency’s answers is an explanation of the key differences between cloth facial coverings, surgical masks and respirators. Other topics include whether employers are required to provide masks, the continued need to follow physical distancing guidelines when wearing masks and how workers can keep cloth masks clean.

“As our economy reopens for business, millions of Americans will be wearing masks in their workplace for the first time,” acting OSHA administrator Loren Sweatt said in a June 10 press release. “OSHA is ready to help workers and employers understand how to properly use masks so they can stay safe and healthy in the workplace.”

The agency reminds employers not to use surgical masks or cloth facial coverings for work that requires a respirator.

Cellphones may be ‘Trojan horses’ of coronavirus spread, researchers say

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Photo: filadendron/iStockphoto
Our cellphones carry more than we think – including infectious germs – and likely serve as “Trojan horses” for the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers from Bond University say.

The researchers reviewed 56 studies from 24 countries in which cellphones were examined for bacteria, fungi and/or viruses. The studies were conducted from January 2005 to December 2019. Results showed that strains of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus are among the most common contaminants on cellphones, which, once touched, can spread to users.

This helped frame the researchers’ hypothesis that cellphones “are most likely contributing to the spread of SARS-CoV-2” – the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 – “within different professional settings, including hospitals, and may play a significant role in viral propagation within the community,” despite the fact the review didn’t directly address SARS-CoV-2.

“The extraordinarily fast contagion that has scientists puzzled might reside within these mobile phones, spreading COVID-19 everywhere at ultraspeed,” Lotti Tajouri, the study’s lead researcher and an associate professor of biomedical sciences at the university, said in a press release. “After all, they’re everywhere, traveling the world in planes, cruise ships and trains.”

The researchers call on everyone to clean their cellphone each day, with Tajouri advising them to think of their device as a “third hand” to be shielded from bacteria.

“Let’s take that hypothesis seriously,” Tajouri said. “If we clean our phones daily and this makes a difference, then we might with this little action curve down the COVID-19 [pandemic] and save lives.”

The study was published online April 28 in the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease.

Study finds cluster headaches can ‘dramatically interfere with people’s work capacity’

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Photo: Pornpak Khunatorn/iStockphoto

Stockholm — Employees who experience short, severe and frequent headaches – known as cluster headaches – average nearly twice as many missed workdays as their colleagues, according to a study recently published by the American Academy of Neurology.

“Cluster headaches are short but extremely painful headaches that can occur many days, or even weeks, in a row,” AAN says. They may last 15 minutes to three hours, and frequently occur above or around the eye. In the United States, about 1 out of 1,000 people experience cluster headaches.

For the study, a group of Sweden-based researchers analyzed data for 3,240 Swedes of working age who were treated for cluster headaches in hospitals or by specialists from 2001 to 2010, and compared it with data for 16,200 members of the general population. They then examined a registry to determine how many sick and disability days each study participant used in 2010. The average number of sick and disability days for workers with cluster headaches totaled 63, compared with 34 for those without the headaches.

Other findings:

  • Female workers with cluster headaches used an average of 84 sick and disability days, compared with 53 days for male workers.
  • Workers with cluster headaches who completed only elementary school used an average of 86 sick and disability days, compared with 65 days for those who completed high school and 41 days for those with a college education.

“This study shows that cluster headaches dramatically interfere with people’s work capacity,” study author Christina Sjöstrand, of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, said in a press release. “More research is needed on how to best treat and manage this form of headache so people who experience them have fewer days in pain and miss fewer days of work.”

The study was published online Feb. 5 in the AAN journal Neurology.

Study links printer toner exposure to genetic changes

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Morgantown, WV — Nanoparticles from printer toner emissions can cause “very significant” changes to workers’ genetic and metabolic profiles, results of a recent study led by a researcher from West Virginia University show.

Nancy Lan Guo, a WVU assistant professor of community medicine, and her colleagues placed rats into a chamber with a common laser printer for five hours a day over a 21-day period while the printer ran nonstop – “equivalent to an occupational setting.” The rats were assessed every four days for changes to cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic function.

A single day of toner-particle exposure was enough to disturb the activity of genes associated with metabolism, immune response and other essential biological processes in the rats. Additionally, the rats showed adverse effects in the lungs and blood at every observed time point.

“The changes are very significant from Day One,” Guo said in a Feb. 27 press release.

In work areas where laser printers are heavily used, Guo recommends implementing special ventilation and exposure controls to protect workers, particularly pregnant women, from exposure. “Because once a lot of these genes are changed, they get passed on through the generations,” Guo said. “It’s not just you.”

The study was published online Dec. 16 in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

COVID-19 pandemic: CDC issues interim cleaning, disinfection recommendations after exposure

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Washington — In light of emerging data on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released interim environmental cleaning and disinfection recommendations for community facilities with suspected or confirmed cases of the potentially deadly respiratory illness.

The guidelines – aimed at limiting the spread of the disease – are focused on community, non-health care facilities such as schools, institutions of higher education, offices, day care facilities, businesses, and community centers that “do, and do not, house persons overnight.”

SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 – can be stable for several hours to even days on various surfaces, results of a study that involved CDC researchers and was published online March 17 in the New England Journal of Medicine show.

“Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces, followed by disinfection, is the best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in community settings,” CDC states on its Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities webpage, which the agency intends to update as more data is made available.

Cleaning should entail using a detergent or soap and water before disinfecting. Diluted household bleach solutions, solutions with at least 70% alcohol or other Environmental Protection Agency-registered household disinfectants are recommended.

CDC also provides information on how to clean soft or porous surfaces. In addition, personal protective equipment, such as disposable gloves and gowns, should be worn by cleaning staff, who are encouraged to wash their hands frequently.

Employers should provide education on COVID-19 to workers performing duties such as cleaning, laundry and garbage pickup.

“These guidelines are not meant for cleaning staff in health care facilities or repatriation sites, households, or for others for whom specific guidance already exists,” CDC states.