Using ventilation to reduce COVID-19 exposure: CDC creates webpage

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — A new webpage published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is intended to help employers and building managers improve the ventilation system in their facilities to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

CDC recommends ventilation as part of a “layered strategy” that includes physical distancing and use of facial coverings to help reduce the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 – in indoor air.

“The lower the concentration, the less likely some of those viral particles can be inhaled into your lungs; contact your eyes, nose and mouth; or fall out of the air to accumulate on surfaces,” the webpage states. “Protective ventilation practices and interventions can reduce the airborne concentration, which reduces the overall viral dose to occupants.”

The agency’s recommendations for improved ventilation include:

  • Increasing outdoor air ventilation, but use caution if your facility is in a highly polluted area.
  • Opening windows and doors to the outside, but only when weather conditions allow and doing so doesn’t create a safety or health risk (e.g., risk of falling or triggering asthma symptoms).
  • Using fans to improve the effectiveness of open windows. However, don’t place fans in a configuration that could cause potentially contaminated air to flow from one person to another. One strategy is to use a fan that’s placed safely and securely in a window.
  • Decreasing occupancy in areas where outdoor ventilation isn’t possible.
  • Making sure restroom exhaust fans are working at full capacity when a building is occupied.
  • Using a portable high-efficiency particulate air fan/filtration system to help enhance air cleaning, especially in high-risk areas such as a nurse’s office.

Additionally, CDC advises running HVAC systems at “maximum outside airflow” for two hours before and after a building is occupied. The agency’s webpage includes a set of strategies with corresponding estimated costs, as well as answers to list of frequently asked questions about building ventilation.


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

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

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.

EPA publishes first installment of controversial risk evaluation for asbestos

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — Critics of the Environmental Protection Agency are renewing their call for a complete ban on asbestos after the agency’s release of Part 1 of a final risk evaluation that concludes that the substance – a known human carcinogen – presents an unreasonable health risk to workers under certain conditions.

Used in chlor-alkali production, consumer products, coatings and compounds, plastics, roofing products, and other applications, asbestos is among the first 10 chemicals under evaluation for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

Released Dec. 30 and announced via a notice published in the Jan. 4 Federal Register, Part 1 of the final evaluation centers on chrysotile asbestos and states the substance poses unreasonable risk to workers involved in numerous operations, including:

  • Processing and industrial use of asbestos diaphragms in the chlor-alkali industry
  • Processing and industrial use of asbestos-containing sheet gaskets in chemical production
  • Industrial use and disposal of asbestos-containing brake blocks in the oil industry
  • Commercial use and disposal of aftermarket automotive asbestos-containing brakes/lining, other vehicle friction products and other asbestos-containing gaskets

As required under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which the Lautenberg Act amended, EPA must address risks by proposing within one year regulatory actions such as training, certification, restricted access and/or ban of commercial use, and then accept public comment on any proposals.

EPA states that Part 2 of the final risk evaluation is in development, and anticipates releasing a draft scope around the middle of the year. Part 2 will focus on legacy uses and disposals of asbestos, which the agency defines as “conditions of use for which manufacture (including import), processing and distribution of commerce no longer occur, but where use and disposal are still known, intended or reasonably foreseen to occur (e.g., asbestos in older buildings).”

In a press release, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization asserts the two-part approach is incomplete, noting that the agency omits five other types of asbestos fiber beyond chrysotile in Part 1 while failing to address known health effects related to asbestos, including asbestosis and ovarian cancer. Additionally, Part 1 “is based on grossly incomplete information about current asbestos exposure and use,” the nonprofit organization contends.

“EPA’s final risk evaluation ignores the numerous recommendations of its own scientific advisors and other independent experts by claiming that these deficiencies will be addressed in a future Part 2 evaluation,” ADAO President and co-founder Linda Reinstein said in the release. “Based on this sleight-of-hand maneuver, the agency has issued a piecemeal and dangerously incomplete evaluation that overlooks numerous sources of asbestos exposure and risk, and understates the enormous toll of disease and death for which asbestos is responsible.”

The House on Sept. 29 was slated to vote on the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act, a bill that calls for a federal ban of asbestos. The legislation is named for Reinstein’s late husband, who died from mesothelioma in 2006.

However, the bill, which passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a 47-1 vote in November 2019, ultimately stalled and was removed from the suspension calendar without a vote, as House Democrats chastised their Republican counterparts for withdrawing their support.

According to an Oct. 1 report published in The Hill, the controversy centered on a provision that guarantees the bill wouldn’t impact ongoing litigation concerning injuries related to the use of talcum powder.

In a joint statement released Oct. 1, Committee Chair Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chair Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) said: “Everyone should be able to support a ban on this known carcinogen, which has no place in our consumer products or processes.”

The group added: “Republicans walked away from this opportunity to ban asbestos merely over language that prevents shutting the courtroom door. This raises serious questions about the sincerity of their intentions.”

Committee Ranking Member Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) offered a rebuttal in an Oct. 1 statement: “Saying we walked away is simply untrue. All Democrats have to do is drop the language added to the bill by trial lawyers and bring the bill to the floor that every one of their members voted for when it was considered by our committee. If anyone’s intentions should be questioned, we can assure you it’s not ours.”


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.

OSHA issues COVID-19 prevention guidelines for cleaning staff

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

See the source image

Washington — A new guidance document from OSHA is intended to help cleaning staff reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19.

Beyond the standard recommendations of wearing a face covering, staying home when feeling ill, washing hands frequently and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance, OSHA says cleaning staff should:

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency-approved disinfectants or cleaning chemicals.
  • Wear disposable gloves to clean, sanitize and disinfect common surfaces.
  • Wipe equipment before and after use.
  • Use the warmest water level that is safe and dry laundry completely.
  • Avoid dry sweeping, if feasible, and the use of high-pressure streams of water.
  • Wash their clothes as soon as they get home, if possible.
  • OSHA also encourages workers to report any safety and health concerns to their supervisor.

    The document is available in English and Spanish.


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

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

SAFETY FIRST! – Working in the cold

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.
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Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation

Lost-time injuries and illnesses resulting from “environmental cold” spiked nearly 142% in 2018 – soaring to 290 cases from 120 the previous year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Those cases, plus the 280 reported in 2019, are a likely indicator of a lack of employer and worker understanding about the dangers of cold stress.

What are the dangers?

Along with air temperature, wind and moisture can create issues for employees working in the cold. Water, including sweat, can displace body heat 25 times faster than dry air, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety.

Likewise, wind can blow away the body’s protective external layer of heat. This is why wind chill is an important factor to understand. So, for example, when the temperature is 25° F and the wind is blowing 25 mph, the wind chill is 9° F, resulting in more dangerous conditions.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists used air temperature and wind speed to develop three thresholds of cold stress hazards:
Little danger: Freezing of exposed skin within one hour
Danger: Freezing of exposed skin within one minute
Extreme danger: Freezing of exposed skin within 30 seconds

With no wind, the temperature can drop to -20° F and still pose little danger to workers. But if the wind speed reaches 20 mph or more, then the danger threshold moves up to 10° F.

ACGIH also developed a work/warm-up schedule for four-hour shifts (available on OSHA’s website at osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather). On this sliding scale, no noticeable wind and an air temperature between -25° and -29° F translates to a maximum work period of 75 minutes. However, if the wind reaches 20 mph or more and the temperature is between -15° and -19° F, the maximum work period is 40 minutes. At -25° F or colder and with a wind speed at the same 20 mph or greater, ACGIH recommends that all non-emergency work stop.

Martin Tirado, CEO of the Snow and Ice Management Association, said a good rule of thumb is a 15-minute break for every hour of work. When the temperature dips below zero, workers should have shorter work periods with a break that’s equal in length (i.e., work for five minutes and warm up for five minutes). Continue reading»


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

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

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First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Itasca, IL — Employers will have to continue COVID-19-related safety measures well into the new year – likely through the summer, according to Justin Rodriguez, a partner with the Boston Consulting Group.

Speaking during the State of COVID-19 Response and Future World of Work Summit, presented by the National Safety Council on Dec. 9 as part of its SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns initiative, Rodriguez said many measures put in place at the beginning of the pandemic to reduce worker exposure to the coronavirus – such as wearing masks or facial coverings, physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and avoiding of large gatherings of people – remain best practices.

He urged employers to consider strong testing, reporting, tracking and contact tracing programs – if they aren’t already in place – as well as pay special attention to at-risk workers and remain mindful of employees’ mental health.

That’s because the pandemic likely won’t end until the fall, under the best-case scenario and even in light of the recent rollout and limited availability of multiple COVID-19 vaccines, noted Dan Kahn, principal at the Boston Consulting Group.

In this scenario, “several highly effective” vaccines receive emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Kahn said additional factors include a well-coordinated supply chain and clear public communication with help from business leaders, leading to greater public acceptance of the vaccines. Without all of this, however, the worst-case scenario, he projected, is perhaps an end to the pandemic one year later – in the fall of 2022.

“The path in front of us remains quite complex and with a great number of unknowns,” Kahn said, “and there’s a long way to go before we can defeat this virus. Much of 2021 will not be the full return to normal that we all want.”

Encourage, not mandate

During a subsequent summit panel discussion, a trio of safety executives said they would encourage their employees to get vaccinated. However, they’d likely stop short of making vaccination a requirement.

“We’re going to err on the side of making it readily available whenever we can,” said David O’Connor, vice president for global security/real estate at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “As we get through the vaccine and as it’s proven safer and safer, hopefully, I think there will be less reluctance.”

Plenty of hurdles lie ahead, according to Michelle Garner-Janna, executive director of corporate health, safety and environment at Cummins Inc. Among them: privacy issues, along with how employees will receive the vaccine and ensuring they get both required doses, when applicable.

“It’s something that’s very high on the priority list,” Garner-Janna said. “We obviously would like for as many of our employees to become vaccinated as they can once it’s available, but there are a lot of ins and outs.”

Speaking during a separate panel discussion, NIOSH Director John Howard cautioned attendees about another emerging dilemma related to vaccines in workplaces: “As we increase the number of workers that have been vaccinated, they are going to be in a workplace with unvaccinated workers, so employers are going to have hybrid workforces, and there’s a lot of issues that are going to arise from managing a hybrid, vaccinated-unvaccinated workforce that we do not yet know exactly how to do.”

Lessons learned from COVID-19

Acknowledging the work of safety pros in protecting workers throughout the pandemic, epidemiologist Abdul El-Sayed posed the basic question: “How do we actually do the work of preventing illness?”

“In the work that you all do, you’re thinking about this every single day,” the former public health commissioner of Detroit, author and host of the “American Dissected” podcast told attendees during the summit’s initial session. “How do we keep people safe?”

Safety professionals, he said, take on a role akin to public health experts, in which “all of us come together to promote the well-being of all of us in the population.”

The need for large groups of people to act collectively for the good of everyone often can be difficult, El-Sayed acknowledged, and it’s even harder to sustain over time, especially during weeks-long stay-at-home orders in certain parts of the country.

He also shared lessons learned that can provide a path forward. One example: some health care workers wearing trash bags to protect themselves when proper personal protective equipment was unavailable in the early days of the pandemic. El-Sayed said preparation is critical before a crisis situation arises.

“‘Just in time’ means you won’t have time,” he said. “Some things need to be stockpiled, and you need to be thoughtful about how you do that.”

‘Mental health is strongly tied to safety’

Will today’s workers one day laugh with future grandchildren about the way they once commuted to a physical workplace? If geography gradually becomes less critical in a world where work is mostly done virtually, might more employees relocate closer to family support systems, allowing for an improved work-life balance?

As panelists offered these and other thoughts for contemplation during a discussion exploring the future of work, many ideas still returned to a current reality: Employers have and will continue to play a significant role in supporting workers’ mental health and well-being.

“The mental health distress and illness stemming from the pandemic will not disappear as the country recovers and people regain a new sense of normalcy,” said Rachael Cooper, senior program manager, substance use and harm prevention safety, at NSC. “It can be expected that the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to manifest in the coming weeks, months and years. Recognizing this and being proactive in addressing it in the workplace is critical as we explore the future of work.”

Experts encouraged employers to adopt several best practices to accommodate workers, including:

  • Providing thorough mental health training and education
  • Increasing workplace focus on mental health and stress
  • Prioritizing social connectedness
  • Increasing frequency of employee check-ins
  • Establishing and/or maintaining flexible work arrangements

“We do know that mental health is strongly tied to safety, and people who are under a great deal of stress tend to be more prone to have accidents,” said Catherine West, director of global safety and health at Jacobs Engineering. “So, for those that do have to go back to the workplace, how do we maintain those stress levels at a healthy level and not let them become too overwhelmed where they start creating safety issues?

“And it’s so easy for safety professionals to say, ‘Well, somebody was hurt because they weren’t paying attention,’ when a lot of times, it comes down to those mental health aspects. So, we really have to be very keenly in tune with those people going back into the workplaces and the stresses that they may be facing to ensure that we do everything that we can possibly do to keep them safe when they’re back.”


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

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

DOL OIG recommends MSHA lower exposure limit for silica

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Department of Labor Office of Inspector General is advising the Mine Safety and Health Administration to lower its legal exposure limit for silica, among other recommendations, in a report released Nov. 16.

MSHA’s silica exposure limit of 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air was established more than 50 years ago and is out of date, the report states. OSHA has since lowered its silica exposure limit to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, but “both OSHA and NIOSH warned that 50 μg/m³ is the lowest feasible limit, not the safest.”

A recent increase in progressive massive fibrosis – the most severe form of black lung disease – has been linked to “high-volume mechanized mining of decreasing deposits of coal, which releases more silica dust,” the report notes. More than three times as many coal miners were identified as having black lung disease from 2010 to 2014, compared with 1995 to 1999.

“The evidence indicates respirable crystalline silica may be responsible for this increase,” DOL OIG says.

DOL OIG also recommends that MSHA establish a separate standard to allow the agency to issue citations and monetary penalties for silica exposure limit violations. Further, it advises MSHA to increase the frequency of inspector samples “where needed” to enhance its sampling program. One example is by implementing a risk-based approach.

In a response dated Oct. 27, MSHA administrator David Zatezalo wrote that his agency does not agree with the recommendations of lowering the silica exposure limit or penalizing operators solely for exposure violations. He added that MSHA plans to issue a proposed rule on exposure to respirable quartz – one of the most common types of respirable crystalline silica.

Zatezalo said the agency will study DOL OIG’s final recommendation, including the risk-based approach, to see if sampling needs to increase under certain mining conditions.


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.

U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Announces $2,856,533 In Coronavirus Violations

First published by OSHA.

WASHINGTON, DC – Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Nov. 5, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued 204 citations arising from inspections for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $2,856,533.

OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:

OSHA has withdrawn a citation issued on Oct. 23, 2020, to Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, New York, (Inspection #1473958 with proposed penalty of $9,639) after the employer provided evidence of a good faith attempt at complying with the standard in question.

OSHA has already announced citations relating to the coronavirus arising out of 178 inspections, which can be found at dol.gov/newsroom. In addition to those inspections, the 26 inspections below have resulted in coronavirus-related citations totaling $369,404 from OSHA relating to one or more of the above violations from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5, 2020. OSHA provides more information about individual citations at its Establishment Search website, which it updates periodically.

Establishment Name Inspection
Number
City State Initial
Penalty
The Cleaning Company Inc. 1483403 East Haven Connecticut $6,940
Lawrence + Memorial Hospital Inc. 1476231 New London Connecticut $15,422
Butterfield Health Care VIII LLC 1474191 Bolingbrook Illinois $12,145
Geneva Nursing and Rehabilitation Center LLC 1474458 Geneva Illinois $13,494
The Edgar P. Benjamin Healthcare Center Inc. 1488985 Boston Massachusetts $16,193
South Shore Medical Investors LLC 1478069 Scituate Massachusetts $13,494
Grand Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center 1474377 Saint Louis Missouri $12,145
Hamilton Operator LLC 1488528 Hamilton Square New Jersey $13,494
Hazlet Garden Group 1486252 Hazlet New Jersey $13,359
Mystic Meadows Rehabilitation & Nursing Center 1486441 Little Egg Harbor Twp. New Jersey $32,965
Elmwood Evesham Associates LLC 1487353 Marlton New Jersey $12,145
Montclair Hospital LLC 1473011 Montclair New Jersey $13,494
Prime Healthcare Services-St. Michael’s LLC 1479171 Newark New Jersey $25,061
Optimize Manpower Solutions Inc. 1470599 South Plainfield New Jersey $5,000
Family of Caring LLC 1473777 Woodcliff Lake New Jersey $12,145
Boro Park Operating Co. LLC 1488796 Brooklyn New York $26,989
Boro Park Operating Co. LLC 1488814 Brooklyn New York $11,567
Buffalo General Medical Center 1474063 Buffalo New York $1,928
Rego Park NHLTD 1488595 Flushing New York $13,494
Forest Manor Inc. 1487472 Glen Cove New York $13,494
Amsterdam Nursing Home Corp. 1475704 New York New York $13,494
Bayada Home Health Care Inc. 1480129 New York New York $8,675
Schnur Operations Associates LLC 1488554 White Plains New York $12,145
Cold Spring Hill Acquisition LLC 1487532 Woodbury New York $25,061
Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital 1474193 Warren Ohio $13,494
Athena Health Care Systems 1487891 Woonsocket Rhode Island 11567

A full list of what standards were cited for each establishment – and the inspection number – are available here. An OSHA standards database can be found here.

Resources are available on the agency’s COVID-19 webpage to help employers comply with these standards.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.


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

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Former OSHA head expects an emergency temporary standard ‘very early’ in Biden administration

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First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Aurora, CO — Protecting the health and safety of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic will be a high priority for President-elect Joe Biden as he prepares to take office in January, according to former OSHA chief David Michaels.

That starts with OSHA issuing an emergency temporary standard on infectious diseases – something worker advocacy groups and some lawmakers have called for in recent months.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Biden will issue an emergency temporary standard very early in his tenure,” Michaels said during a Nov. 11 webinar on the post-election future of worker safety and health, hosted by the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and Humanities. “I think you have to do that immediately. The importance of that is employers need to know what the rules are.”

During his presidential campaign, Biden released a 4-Point Plan for Our Essential Workers that called on the Trump administration to immediately release and enforce an ETS to give employers and frontline employees “specific, enforceable guidance” on reducing on-the-job exposure to COVID-19.

Michaels – who led OSHA for seven years under the Obama administration – said he expects an ETS from the Biden administration to include language on physical distancing, mask requirements and workplace ventilation.

“And if [employers] don’t do those things, they have to explain why,” he said. “It will have a huge impact, because standards are a wholesale way to deal with issues that inspections just do on a regional basis. Standards are powerful because many employers want to be law-abiding. They will follow a standard.”

Despite being pushed to issue an ETS on infectious diseases by lawmakers from both parties as well as via multiple petitions and lawsuits from labor unions, federal OSHA officials have consistently reiterated the agency’s position to use existing rules – including its General Duty Clause – to protect workers during the pandemic.

The agency also has relied on dozens of industry-specific guidance documents, which serve only as recommendations to employers. MichiganOregon and Virginia recently have issued ETSs in absence of one from federal OSHA.

Webinar co-presenter Matthew Wynia, a professor and bioethicist at CU, said OSHA guidance leaves open the opportunity for some employers to not follow it.

“The reason for standards is to establish a level playing field,” Wynia said. “You’ve laid a floor and said, ‘You cannot go below this.’”


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

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

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.