What Employees Should Know About COVID-19 Protections in the Workplace
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads mostly among unvaccinated people who are in close proximity to each other. The virus spreads particularly indoors and especially in poorly ventilated areas.
Vaccination is an essential element in a multifaceted approach to protect workers. If your employer offers opportunities to take time off in order to get vaccinated, take advantage of the time offered. Vaccines authorized by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are effective at protecting those vaccinated against symptomatic and severe cases of COVID-19 and death. A growing body of evidence suggests that those fully vaccinated are less likely to have symptomatic infection or transmit the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Many employers have created COVID-19 prevention programs that include precautions to keep unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk employees safe. Created prevention programs might include:
Enhanced cleaning programs, focusing on high-touch surfaces
The recommended precautions and policies of your workplace should be followed. These multi-layered controls are specific to your workplace and are particularly important to unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk employees.
In addition to these guidelines, the CDC now recommends those that are fully vaccinated wear a mask in public indoor settings where there is a potential of substantial or high transmission. Still, those fully vaccinated might choose to mask, regardless the level of transmission. This choice might depend on if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at an increased risk of severe disease, or if others in their household are unvaccinated.
Ask your employer about prevention policies and plans for your workplace. Additionally, employees with disabilities who are at risk may request reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
If your employer does not have a COVID-19 prevention plan and you are unvaccinated or otherwise at risk, you can help protect yourself and others by following the steps below:
Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can. Check with your employer about paid leave opportunities, if necessary, to get vaccinated and for recovery time from any side effects.
Wear a face covering. When properly worn, face coverings are simple barriers worn over the mouth, nose, and chin. These coverings help prevent your respiratory droplets or large particles from reaching others. Higher quality masks are encouraged, as they provide a greater measure of protection. When working outdoors, you may opt to not wear a face covering; however, should you choose to, your employer should support you in safely wearing a face covering continuously, especially if you work closely with others.
Social Distance. Unless fully vaccinated or not otherwise at-risk, stay far enough away from others that you are not breathing in respiratory particles produced by them. This distance is generally 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths). Please note that this is not a guarantee that you will avoid infection, especially if you are in enclosed or poorly ventilated areas.
Take advantage of telework or flexible schedule policies, if offered by your employer.
Perform work tasks, hold meetings, and take breaks outdoors when possible.
Participate in any training offered by your employer to learn how rooms in your workplace are ventilated effectively, if offered. Encourage your employer to provide such training if it does not already exist. If you see any vents that are clogged, dirty, or blocked by furniture or equipment, notify your building manager.
Practice good personal hygiene and wash your hands often. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Do not spit. Monitor your health daily and check for COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.)
Get tested regularly, especially if you live in areas of substantial or high community transmission.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing you from getting COVID-19. If you are not yet fully vaccinated or otherwise at-risk, these multi-layered controls provide optimum protections that prevent exposure and infection.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential for those working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In general, PPE protects wearers from environmental hazards that could cause injury or illness. These hazards include physical, chemical, radiological, electrical, mechanical, and biological damage. During the current coronavirus pandemic, wearing PPE significantly reduces the chance of being exposed to or spreading germs by creating a barrier between yourself and possible infectious diseases. We offer complete PPE Training Kits here at National Safety Compliance.
2020 has Seen an Unprecedented Increase in PPE Usage
While the use of PPE in all workplaces across the world is certainly spiking, PPE is nothing new for most health care workers. In the past, all hospital staff members and visitors have been required to use PPE in instances where there is potential for contact with blood or bodily fluids. Now, PPE is required around the clock in hospitals as well as other businesses and facilities across the nation to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
For PPE to work effectively, employers must properly train their workers on how to use PPE efficiently. If PPE is something only used rarely, employees should still practice regularly putting on, properly wearing, and taking off their personal protective equipment. This proper training is a must, and employees should be refreshed on these topics on a regular basis.
With the addition of new businesses needing to implement requirements for PPE, there are also many different types of PPE to meet the needs of each industry. These can range depending on your line of business. For example, the PPE that a hospital utilizes will be much different than the PPE used in a restaurant. The different forms of PPE can include;
Masks and Respirators: These should always cover both your mouth and nose to prevent the inhalation of germs, chemicals, and physical contaminants. Masks also play an important part in stopping asymptomatic employees from spreading disease.
Eye protection: Some masks come with a clear plastic piece to cover your eyes, other forms of eye protection can include face shields and goggles. These are important in some settings because of how easily germs and other particles can enter through or damage one’s eyes.
Gloves: Wearing gloves protects your hands by creating a physical barrier. It’s important to avoid touching the body or face while wearing protective gloves, and regularly change them after any possible contamination.
Clothing: This includes much of what you would picture a surgeon wearing; gowns, aprons, head covering, and shoe covers and while they are often used during surgeries, they can also be used to visit someone who is in isolation or to keep dangerous liquids from touching your skin. Clothing can also be used in other industries outside of the medical field like chemical protective suits for cleaning, reflective vests for outdoor night workers, and lead aprons for radiological workers.
Depending on your local and state mandates, you as an employer can control how often employees are required to wear PPE in certain situations. This can depend on your risk of being severely impacted by COVID-19, but regardless of these requirements, healthcare workers always need PPE when caring for others in isolation. PPE is also essential for confirmed patients to prevent the spread of the disease to others and for healthcare workers to avoid getting the disease themselves. Informational posters can help improve PPE compliance among employees.
Properly Using PPE
Simply wearing PPE is not enough. In order to properly protect yourself and those around you, you must also put on, remove and dispose of PPE safely. Different facilities and industries will have different procedures for properly completing each of these steps so follow these simple guidelines and practice your workplace guidelines.
Sanitize and Inspect: To properly don PPE, you will want to sanitize your hands before touching any of the equipment and then ensure that the size is correct. If your mask, gown, or gloves do not fit they will not work effectively.
Put Your PPE on in the Proper Order: You can then put on your mask by hooking them appropriately to your ears so that it covers both your nose and mouth. Following this, you can tie your gown, put on a face shield or goggles and then your gloves. Once you have all of your PPE properly in place you can then enter into the infected area.
Remove Some PPE Before Leaving the Contaminated Area: Before leaving you should remove the PPE by first starting with your gloves. These should be carefully removed to avoid contaminating your hands by placing one glove in the other one. Then remove your gown by carefully untying it and avoiding any forceful movements. Place these items in the proper disinfection or disposal area.
Remove Remaining PPE and Sanitize After Leaving: you can then leave the area, use hand sanitizer immediately and then remove your face shield or goggles by gently pulling them away from your face without touching your eyes. To remove your mask, you should carefully untie it and avoid touching the front before using hand sanitizer once more.
Disinfect or Dispose of Remaining PPE: If you are reusing any of these materials it is important that you clean and disinfect them, as well as any other materials they touched, before using them again. If not, you should place them directly in the trash bin.
Regulations on Supply
The need for PPE has greatly increased due to the pandemic and has caused many shortages. This has created a surge capacity that is challenging the U.S. healthcare system’s ability to identify alternative methods of patient care.
In response, the CDC is working to optimize the use of PPE by helping facilities understand their PPE inventory, supply chain, and utilization rate. It is also vital that facilities communicate with local healthcare to identify supplies and implement conventional capacity measures.
This communication should take place across the nation between state and local departments and partners to develop how to implement strategies that can extend PPE supplies and to properly train on PPE use and optimization strategies so that all communities are educated on the use of PPE.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is impacting every industry and business across the world. As a result, many workplaces are being forced to change policies and searching for the best methods to keep their business running smoothly during COVID-19 outbreaks. National Safety Compliance has formatted the Occupational Safety and Health Associations recommendations into a handy booklet titled OSHA: Preparing Workplaces For COVID-19 for easy use by business owners and trainers.
Some businesses are affected by the interruption of supplies and deliveries from other geographic areas, while others are experiencing absenteeism as many workers are home sick, caring for loved ones, or unable to work due to being at-risk or fearful of potential exposure. Most are seeing a change in patterns of commerce as consumer interest increases in items used for infection prevention and shopping habits change to reduce person-to-person contact.
While it is not possible to entirely stop these consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers can reduce the effect it has on their business, workers, customers, and the public by planning and preparing for traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. They can do so by implementing engineering, administration, personal protective equipment (PPE), and work practice controls. Giving employees COVID-19 safety training and implementing COVID safe work practices can significantly reduce the impact and spread of COVID in your workplace.
These methods may change as new information becomes available. COVID-19 outbreak conditions change and evolve, making it vital that employers keep up with new information on the transmission and impacts of the virus. They should consistently be mindful of potential risks in the workplace and any new control measures to enforce.
Employers should continually remind themselves and others to stay home from work if symptoms of COVID-19 appear. These symptoms include cough, fever, and shortness of breath and they will appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure. Employers cannot rely on symptoms alone, as many people are asymptomatic, meaning they experience no symptoms at all.
People are most contagious when their symptoms are at their worst, but it is possible for the virus to spread before any symptoms show. It is thought to spread mainly from people in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets that are inhaled or land in another’s mouth or nose.
How Employers Can Reduce Workers’ Risk of Exposure
To reduce the risk of exposure, follow these basic steps:
Develop an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan:
Develop a guide on protective actions against COVID-19 that incorporates recommendations from state and local health agencies. This should address the need for social distancing, exposure-reducing measures, and controls necessary to address those risks.
Prepare to Implement Basic Infection Prevention Measures:
This should place an emphasis on employers enforcing basic infection prevention and implementing good hygiene and infection control practices. This includes encouraging workers to stay home when sick, practicing frequent disinfection, respiratory etiquette, and not using others’ workspaces.
Develop Policies and Procedures for Prompt Identification and Isolation of Sick:
Employers should inform on symptoms and develop policies for employees to self-monitor for symptoms. Any confirmed cases of the virus should be isolated from the worksite and their workspace should be marked off with a temporary barrier.
Develop, Implement, and Communicate about Workplace Flexibilities and Protections:
Encourage employees to stay home when sick by allowing leave policies to be flexible, developing non-punitive leave policies, and not requiring a note from a healthcare provider. This also includes being understanding about workers taking care of sick family members, being aware of their health and safety concerns, and working with insurance companies on providing information about medical care in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Implement Workplace Controls:
To eliminate the hazards a combination of control measures including engineering controls, administrative controls, and safe work practices is necessary to effectively protect workers from exposure.
Different Forms of Control:
Engineering Controls: Isolate employees from work-related hazards where appropriate to avoid relying on worker behavior. These can include high-efficiency air filters, ventilation rates, and physical barriers.
Administrative Controls: This includes any changes in workplace policy and procedures that reduce exposure to a hazard like minimizing contact, establishing alternating shifts, and providing workers with up-to-date training and education on COVID-19.
Safe Work Practices: Administrative control that include procedures for safe and proper work to reduce the duration and frequency of exposure to a hazard by providing resources on personal hygiene, requiring regular handwashing, and supplying disinfectants. This can also be done with Coronavirus awareness training and awareness classes to further educate your employees on COVID-19 safety.
Personal Protective Equipment: PPE like gloves, goggles, face shields, and masks should be used in addition to, rather than in place of, the above workplace controls to prevent certain exposures. Make sure to provide PPE Safety Training if needed.
Classifications of Exposure
Worker risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19 is classified into very high, high, medium, or lower (caution) risk. The risk level is determined by the industries’ need for workers to be within 6 feet of someone suspected of being infected.
This helps employers determine the appropriate precautions for their workplace depending on which category they fall into.
Very High Exposure Risk:
These employees have the highest potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19. This can include healthcare workers performing procedures on COVID-19 patients, laboratory personnel collecting specimens from patients, or morgue workers performing autopsies on the bodies of those known to have COVID-19 at the time of their death. Employers for very high exposure risk jobs should require all forms of engineering controls, administrative controls, and all safe work practices available, as well as all PPE including respirators.
High Exposure Risk:
These employees are at a high risk of exposure because they are in direct contact with suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19. This includes those working with COVID-19 patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and emergency response facilities. Employers of high exposure risk workers should follow the same guidelines as those given to very high exposure risk, though this is only a recommendation instead of a requirement.
Medium Exposure Risk:
These are people in a workforce who are required to be in close contact with other people who may be exposed including their co-workers. This includes places with ongoing community transmission, travel, and contact with the public in settings like schools, food processing, and high-volume retail centers. Employers for medium risk exposure workers should install physical barriers like sneeze guards, offer face masks to employees and customers, keep informed on symptoms of COVID-19 and not allow anyone experiencing those symptoms in the workplace, limit public access to only certain places, minimize face-to-face contact and select a combination of PPE to protect workers specific to their workplace.
Low Risk (Caution):
The majority of American’s make up this category with jobs that don’t require any contact with the public or any suspected of being infected, in addition, this means minimal contact with coworkers and the public. Employers for workers within this category should follow safety protocols and basic steps to reduce the risk of exposure and they are not recommended to require any additional engineering control or PPE other than what is required by the CDC and state and local laws.
Employees Living or Travelling Abroad
Businesses with employees traveling internationally or living abroad take on a different set of risks not associated with any one level. To combat these risks, employers should communicate to workers abroad that travel into or out of a country may not be possible or medically advisable due to COVID-19 outbreak conditions.
Employees abroad also need to be aware that the U.S. Department of State (DOS) cannot provide Americans traveling or living abroad with medications or supplies. It is likely that governments will respond to an outbreak by imposing public health measures that restrict domestic and international movement, meaning that the U.S. government’s ability to assist Americans in these countries would be even more limited.
For more information to further educate yourself on international travel during an outbreak, consult the section of OSHA’s website on “Business Travelers”, consult CDC travel warnings, and DOS travel advisories.
Assistance and Services
Staying informed on the latest developments and recommendations is critical for employees because specific guidance may change based on new information that arises. Follow federal, state, and local government agencies for communication on guidelines that apply to you in your area.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers have the responsibility to provide safe work environments for their employees. OSHA helps ensure that health and safety standards are enforced for all of America’s working men and women by setting proper guidelines and providing training, education, and assistance.
Additional OSHA Services:
Compliance Assistance Specialists: They work to provide information to employers on OSHA standards with educational programs and information on compliance assistance resources.
No-Cost On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Services for Small Business: Offer confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses with priority to high-hazard worksites.
Cooperative Programs: Allows businesses and labor groups to work cooperatively with OSHA.
Strategic Partnerships and Alliances: Provides a chance for OSHA to partner with employers, associations, labor organizations, and others to develop tools and resources to share with workers to educate on their rights and responsibilities.
Voluntary Protection Programs: The VPP recognizes those who have effectively implemented safety and health programs in the private sector and federal agencies.
Occupational Safety and Health Training: Delivers courses on OSHA standards and health and safety topics to students.
OSHA Educational Materials: OSHA has many materials to assist workers in finding and preventing any hazards including QuickTakes, newsletters, and publications.
Order our booklet Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 for a complete outline of everything you need to know about keeping your employees and workplace safe, efficient, and compliant according to current OSHA guidelines. These low-cost booklets will receive an automatic bulk discount in your cart when you buy 10 or more.
As mentioned earlier, we also have an Infectious Disease Training Program to help employers train for COVID-19 and future pandemics, which was newly created for Summer 2020. This program is available on DVD, USB, or via Instant Digital Access. It includes a trainer’s guide, compliance manual, PowerPoint presentation, employees quizzes, answer keys, supplemental documents, completion certificates, and wallet cards. These documents are all in digital form, so employers can print them for as many employees as they need at no additional costs.
National Safety Compliance is dedicated to helping employers identify and amend any job hazards to improve their safety and health programs. Our safety training programs are designed to help employers comply with their responsibilities under OSHA regulations and substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace illnesses. If you have any questions, please call us a 877-992-7233, reach us by e-mail at email@example.com, or comment below.
With COVID-19 still on the forefront, many businesses continue to search for the best methods of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting in order to keep their doors open to customers and employees. As more chemical cleaning products are used, it continues to be important to train employees on chemical safety and potential hazards involved with their use.
Disinfectant use is soaring across the country, but many businesses have not provided training for employees to safely use these chemicals. Disinfectants can react with incompatible chemicals and even possibly cause health problems for employees. It is important to properly train employees to avoid creating additional safety risks. Proper training should meet or exceed current OSHA guidelines for using cleaners, sanitizers, and disinfectants.
Identifying health hazards and implementing training and resources for employees is a big responsibility. As you train current employees or new hires, it is easier to stay compliant by not placing all the burden on one individual. The use of HAZCOM safety training kits, safety data sheets informational posters, and signage can ease the process while training multiple employees with just one kit.
Proper Methods for Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting
While cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting sound like they are all synonyms for one another, they are different terms that serve different purposes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines these things as the following: Cleaning simply removes dirt, in general these products are less hazardous. Sanitizers work to remove specific microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. Disinfectants then destroy or inactivate microorganisms that cause these infections.
It is important to keep these purposes in mind to properly complete each of these tasks. For example, just cleaning in a hospital wouldn’t do much good to eliminate the spread of diseases which makes disinfectants critical for the control of infectious diseases in hospitals and healthcare settings.
Different environments require different methods for cleaning and disinfecting depending on public health codes. Some codes may require the use of all these methods. For instance, some restaurants will require toilets and food preparation areas be cleaned and sanitized.
While cleaning doesn’t disinfect, this is a step that cannot be skipped. Cleaning should still be utilized by all businesses, especially frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches and tables. To practice proper cleaning, simply clean all surfaces with soap and water. This reduces the number of germs, dirt and contaminations on the surface. This should be done before disinfecting to make it more effective.
While cleaning does eliminate some of the germs and infections, it does not remove enough to be solely used. It must be accompanied by proper disinfection. Disinfectants can be more dangerous, especially if you fail to follow the directions on the label of the particular cleaning supplies you are using. You should also be mindful of protecting your skin and eyes from any potential splashes, ensure adequate ventilation in the area you are using it, and label the products.
Using Different Methods for Different Materials and Areas
Just like the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, there are also big differences in the methods for different materials. This is especially important in businesses like hotels, nursing homes, restaurants, banks and a variety of other institutions where there is heavy foot traffic and a variety of things to clean. Everything from the sheets on beds to cloth napkins on the tables to flooring and devices. Each of these items needs to be cleaned and disinfected according to their specific directions in order for it to be sanitized effectively. This includes;
Laundry: Do not shake out any infected linens, towels or sheets. Simply place them in washing machine on the warmest setting. Then disinfect any hampers or baskets they may have come in contact with.
Soft surfaces: Rugs, carpets, drapes and other fabric materials can be cleaned with soap and water or laundered according to the manufacturer’s instructions and then be disinfected with an EPA-registered disinfectant.
Electronic devices: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to clean and disinfect any tablet, touch screen, keyboard or any other electronic device. Or simply use 70% alcohol-based wipes or spray.
Before cleaning any of these potentially infected items, be sure to put on the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). This should include a mask and gloves so that you remain safe from infection and chemical hazards.
Safety Precautions to Take While Cleaning
While cleaning seems like a harmless task, there are many potential health problems that can be caused by cleaning chemicals when they are not properly used. This can include irritation of the skin and eyes, trouble breathing that can trigger asthma attacks and in extreme cases, even severe lung damage and death.
To avoid this, employees should be mindful of the ingredients of the cleaning products, how to properly store the product, ventilating the area the product is being used to clean, and avoiding any splashes or mists so not to come into contact with skin.
Employers must also provide worker training on the health and safety hazards that come with using chemical products. This training should be completed by each employee before they ever interact with any chemicals in order to ensure that they understand all of the standards on the proper handling, use, storage, and proper procedures for using chemicals and the required PPE.
All employees should also have a clear understanding they are expected to use cleaning chemicals only for their intended use, never mix them together and always wash their hands while working with the products.
In addition to the basics of the use of PPE, your employees need to be trained on how to properly put their PPE on and take it off. Safe removal and cleaning of the PPE can be the difference between remaining healthy and catching an infectious disease.
Detailed training is necessary for employers to maintain a healthy work environment. If employees miss one lesson in their training, it can put the health of all your employees and customers at risk. To minimize this risk, National Safety Compliance offers a variety of training kits to simplify the process for you.
The impact of COVID-19 has left no aspect of daily life untouched. Everything from going to the airport or showing up to work every day has been completely altered as COVID-19 shows its effects on all financial markets and industries. This pandemic has revealed the need for specialized training, so National Safety Compliance has developed a complete infectious disease control training program to help protect your business, employees, and clients from further danger or disruption.
Businesses have been constantly working towards reducing the impact of COVID-19 by planning and preparing as far in advance as possible for the safety of employers, workers and customers.
Many are concerned about the potential risk for exposure, how to control sources of exposure and slow down the transmission of the disease. If employers move forward without proper planning and training employees, these concerns may become a reality.
Lack of continually planning and preparing will result in the consistent failure of employers’ attempts to address the challenges of the pandemic. In order to succeed in your efforts to keep your employees safe, you must have both sufficient resources and adequate training for your employees to perform their jobs under pandemic conditions.
Proper pandemic planning should be based on infection prevention, industrial hygiene practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) use. Moving forward, employers and employees should be mindful of this training guidance to identify any risks in workplace settings, determine the appropriate measures to implement and take the necessary steps to ensure a safe workplace for all.
Having an In-Depth Understanding of COVID-19
In order to understand how to prevent the spread of the disease, you have to first have a better understanding of the disease itself. There is a constant flow of new information as researchers discover more about the disease.
Here is what we currently know about the disease. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person when they are in close contact with one another or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
While infected surfaces and objects are not the primary way of acquiring the disease, it is possible to procure the virus by touching an infected surface or object and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
It is believed that those who are infected are most contagious when they are most symptomatic. Meaning, the more symptoms you show, the more contagious you are. But people can also carry and spread the disease while they are asymptomatic.
Symptoms often appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and include a cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell and many other potential symptoms.
It is important to stay up to date with current conditions during the pandemic. Many assume once they know the basic methods of prevention and symptoms to watch out for they are educated enough, but new information about the virus may require changes in how you operate your workplace.
Looking ahead, new information is still being sought about the virus to help understand the disease. It is vital that employers continue to stay up to date on all aspects of COVID-19 to better understand how to protect against infection, treat cases and provide safe workplaces as the economy continues to open back up.
Utilize valuable resources like the CDC, OSHA and local and state governmental agencies in order to stay up to date on new information.
Implementing Pandemic Preparedness Plan
The first step to safety for your employers during this outbreak is to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan. While making this you should be mindful of current regulations and recommendations from local agencies to incorporate into your plan.
Your plan should prepare your business for increased worker absenteeism, change in commerce patterns, delivery and supply disruptions, the need for social distancing and conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce and cross-training.
You should also consider the level of risk associated with various job tasks and which controls may be necessary to address them. For instance, it is important to determine how and where your employees can be exposed, as well as each individuals risk factors.
These risk factors will be different for each employee. Protection and PPE should be provided for customers who come in close contact with others.
You should also gauge the health of your employees consistently and encourage them to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of disease. This can be done by putting policies into place that ensure employees report if they are experiencing any symptoms and designating a room to close off so they can be isolated until medical help can arrive.
Workplace Controls and OSHA Standards
The best way to control hazards is to systematically remove them from the workplace. A combination of control measures is necessary to reduce exposure.
One form of this is engineering controls. This can include installing high-efficiency air filters, ventilation rates, physical barriers like sneeze guards and pressure ventilation.
Another form is administrative controls which should be included within any workplace plan. Consider including policies like encouraging sick employees to stay home, minimizing contact between any people within the building, establishing flexible worksites, discontinuing non-essential work travel and providing employees with up to date education and training on pandemic risk factors.
You should also be mindful of safe work practices which is a form of control measures that emphasizes good hygiene and infection control practices. This includes frequent hand washing, respiratory etiquette and routine housekeeping procedures to clean and disinfect.
And the final form of control measures is to provide proper PPE. This can include gloves, masks, face shields and goggles. Beyond simply providing PPE, employers should also provide training on proper use of PPE by having them properly fitted, regularly inspected and properly removed, cleaned and stored.
A combination of all of these forms is the perfect method for eliminating any risks to your employees. Businesses must also be mindful of OSHA guidelines on PPE, the General Duty Clause and Bloodborne Pathogens.
OSHA has divided job tasks into four risk exposure levels in the shape of a pyramid to represent probable risk. This ranges from very high exposure risk which would include healthcare or morgue workers to lower exposure risk which includes jobs that don’t require any contact with people suspected of being infected and minimal contact with the public.
Overall, the best workplace control to put into place is to communicate openly with your employees about the current situation of the workplace, provide training as needed and ensure employees are informed of safety precautions being taken.
At National Safety Compliance, we offer a number of different ways to train your employees on infectious disease training and planning. Here on OSHA-Safety-Training.net we offer complete infectious disease training programs with videos, trainers guides, PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, printable completion certificates, wallet cards, and more on DVD, USB, or Digital Access. We also offer complete online training modules on our OSHA Online Training site. Also, make sure to purchase posters in our series of informational COVID-19 safety posters.
If you have any further questions, please comment below, reach out to us via e-mail, or call us at 877-922-7233.
As your workforce returns from the coronavirus closures, it’s a good time to be proactive about your training needs for the remainder of 2020. Proper training ensures that your team will be safe and ready to resume working at peak efficiency. If you haven’t already read it, you may also want to read our guide on How to Prepare Your Office to Reopen.
National Safety Compliance has a variety of training resources that can be tailored precisely to your needs: online courses, booklets, posters, signage and much more.
Here are some of the many ways that employee training helps your business succeed:
Higher productivity – When employees are well-trained, both the quantity and quality of their work improves.
Greater job satisfaction – Employees who receive excellent training have higher morale and greater loyalty to your organization.
Less supervision required – Well-trained workers spend far less time asking their supervisors for instruction and clarification.
Fewer accidents – Highly trained employees are less likely to experience accidents at work.
More opportunities for promotion – Well-trained workers are better candidates for promotion and are less likely to leave.
Here are 4 easy steps for jump-starting your employee training efforts:
#1 – Determine Which Training Method Works Best For Your Budget and Schedule
Online training – This option lets employees learn at their own pace on their own schedule, either at home or on the job site. Explore some of the many online courses we offer on our Online OSHA Training LMS site.
Employer-led training using a National Safety Compliance training kit – This option lets you train all your employees for one low price. Each kit includes a video, trainer’s manual, PowerPoint presentation, compliance guide, employee quizzes, printable certificates, wallet cards, and more. These kits are available on DVD, USB, or instantly online via our Digital Access offering. Here is an example of our popular forklift training kit.
On-site instructor – This is the most expensive solution, where an instructor conducts training in-person at your facility.
#2 – Identify Your Industry And The Specialized Training Required
This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have a question about the training kits most applicable to your industry, please contact us.
#3 – Schedule Your Training Sessions
Online training is easy to schedule because all the work is done by computer. Employees can study either at home or in one of your offices. This is a popular option for employees currently working from home who are preparing to return to the workplace or on-boarding for a new position.
Employer-led training can take place at your convenience. Make sure to practice safe social distancing when conducting on-site training. It’s a good idea to offer separate 1-hour sessions so employees can retain the material better.
#4 – Verify And File Test Completion Certificates
Most federal and state regulatory organizations require you to keep test results on file for each employee.
According to the Association for Talent Development, companies that offer comprehensive training programs enjoy 218% higher income per employee than companies without formal training programs. These companies also have a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training.
As your company gradually resumes normal operations, now is the perfect time to proactively explore training opportunities for both new and returning employees. Call us today at 877-922-7233, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the chat function to learn more about our productivity-boosting training kits and online training courses.
In many states, non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen starting May 1 – The White House and the CDC have partnered to offer general guidelines for employers. But reopening your business after the coronavirus quarantine isn’t like turning on a light switch. It’s a multi-step process, and many companies will need help from workplace safety experts like National Safety Compliance.
Your rebooted workplace will look a lot different than it did in the days before COVID-19. Some of the safety precautions will be temporary, but many will become permanent policies. For example, one study estimates that one-third of all U.S. jobs can be performed remotely. Thousands of businesses that were reluctant to let workers telecommute or participate in online training are now enthusiastically jumping on board.
Here are some ways you can prepare your workplace for a safe reopening:
Reconfigure the workplace
Ensure that all employees are separated by the recommended 6-ft. distance. You may need to stagger employee hours to make that possible.
For the remainder of this year, you should remove all shared water coolers where germs can easily spread. Instead, encourage employees to bring their own bottled water from home.
The crowded, boisterous lunch room will disappear for a while. Make sure the tables in your lunch or break rooms are spaced six feet apart, with just one chair per table.
Determine whether you need additional filters for the HVAC system.
Install no-touch trash cans and consider installing sliding doors to eliminate virus transmission on doorknobs.
New daily routines
Designate a workplace safety coordinator to oversee COVID-19 policies and procedures
Check employees’ temperature before allowing them to enter the workplace
Disinfect the workplace throughout the day. Make sure every employee has been trained in cleaning/disinfecting procedures for door knobs, desk surfaces, phones, computers, etc.
Instruct employees not to touch each other’s phones or desk surfaces.
Make sure that you’re adequately stocked with the proper cleaning supplies.
Training new hires
It’s important to make sure that new employees are promptly trained in your company’s infectious disease practices and policies.
Here are some key points to communicate to new hires:
What to do if you’re feeling sick (don’t report to work, self-quarantine, etc.)
Your company’s policies on telework, staggered hours and sick leave
Here are some highlights of the CDC recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting your facility:
Wear disposable gloves and gowns for all cleaning/disinfecting tasks, including trash emptying
Clean first with soap and water
Concentrate on high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, faucets, countertops, desk surfaces, keyboards, toilets, sinks, etc.
After cleaning with soap and water, disinfect these surfaces with an EPA-registered household disinfectant or diluted household bleach (1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water) (source)
Use appropriate cleaners on soft surfaces like carpets, rugs and drapes
Consider putting wipeable covers on electronic devices
Wash hands thoroughly after each cleaning/disinfecting task
Check State and CDC Guidelines
Before returning to work, carefully review your state’s guidelines for reopening. In many cases, businesses that serve the public must operate at reduced occupancy for a period of time – and numerous businesses will require employees to wear face masks and gloves on the job.
Small business owners can also get guidance from the CDC about how to safely resume operation. But you’re still likely to have many questions. For more than 21 years, our company has been helping businesses operate safely. If you have questions or concerns, call us toll-free today at 1-877-922-7233, use the chat link, or e-mail us.
National Safety Compliance is here and ready to help your company stay safe as America gradually gets back to business.
Are you taking these precautions to help workers stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic?
There are thousands of workplaces still operating – many at peak capacity – during the coronavirus pandemic. These include food production facilities, warehouses, shipping companies, hospitals, physician offices and factories producing much-needed medical equipment like ventilators and protective masks. Many others are looking at what practices to implement when they return to work from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Here are some COVID-19 best practices and training tips that will help mitigate risk factors in your workplace. If you already have a robust pandemic safety and training program, these recommendations can make it even stronger.
What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As of April 14th, it has already infected more than 588,300 people in the U.S., causing nearly 25,000 deaths.
Some business owners already have pandemic safety training plans in place for influenza outbreaks, but this crisis requires additional COVID-19 safety training in accordance with labor law best practices for coronavirus safety.
Symptoms of COVID-19
The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. But an estimated 25% (perhaps even more) of infected people may not exhibit any symptoms at all. These people can nonetheless still spread the disease.
According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
How COVID-19 Spreads
People can get COVID-19 by being in close proximity to an active carrier or by touching a surface that has the virus on it, then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.
Impact On The Workplace
The potential for workplace coronavirus is already having these effects on businesses across America:
Greater absenteeism – Some workers can’t report because they have the illness, while others are caregivers for children in locations where schools and daycare centers have been closed.
Reduced or altered hours – Some businesses (like grocery stores) are reducing hours of operation so that facilities can be sanitized overnight.
The Importance Of Communication
American workers are both frightened and confused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Company-wide communication can bring calm and clarity. For example, The Department of Labor has created a fact sheet about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that gives all federal workers greater paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave during the COVID-19 crisis.
Establishing A Response Plan
If your organization doesn’t currently have an infectious disease preparedness plan, now is the time to implement one. Pandemic training can help business owners and managers deal with the current outbreak and any future ones.
Key considerations include:
Determining where and how workers might get exposed to COVID-19 at your site
Assessing your workers’ risk factors (e.g., age, chronic health conditions, pregnancy, etc.)
Discovering whether coronavirus handwashing best practices are being followed
Developing a plan for higher rates of worker absenteeism
Determining which employees have the ability to work remotely
Implementing multiple shifts or staggered hours to reduce the number of employees working at any given time
Cross-training employees to cover the duties of those who are ill or providing childcare
Preventive Measures To Minimize Infection
These recommendations can greatly reduce the rate of infection:
Advise employees to stay home if they’re feeling ill
Provide all employees with places to wash their hands with soap and hot water
Train workers in cough and sneeze etiquette (covering a cough or sneeze to prevent airborne transmission)
Distribute hand sanitizers at numerous locations in the workplace
Reorganize workflow to allow for social distancing of six feet between workers
Use disinfectant products to frequently clean desktops, work areas, computer keyboards, etc.
Discourage employees for using other workers’ computers or tools
Encourage employees to wear gloves, protective face masks or bandanas if appropriate
Modifying The Workplace
Infection rates can also be reduced by augmenting the workplace with:
High-efficiency air filters
Drive-through windows for customer service
Additional ResourcesOn COVID-19 Exposure In The Workplace
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the latest information about COVID-19: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.
The Federal Government is taking unprecedented measures to provide financial help to businesses affected by the Covid-19 virus. At this point it appears that almost every business is being affected. Here at National Safety Compliance we find ourselves is uncharted territory as well. Due to a 30-day Shelter-In-Place order and a sharp decline in daily sales, we have reduced our working staff to the bare minimum. Therefore, some of our normal production activities have been put on hold. As a result of this, we are not currently able to update our labor law posters to reflect the changes being made to the federal posting requirements.
A new federal poster has been released called “The Families First Coronavirus Response Act Poster.” This poster provides information regarding employee rights concerning Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The poster takes effect April 1, 2020 and goes through December 31, 2020. Since we cannot at this time update our poster, we have attached a pdf file of the poster for you to print and display along with your current Labor Law poster. It is an 8.5” x 11” size posting which means you do not need special sized paper to print it. Once this emergency situation has passed and we are able to get back to work, we will update our posters and provide those of you on our poster protection plan with a new poster. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope that you understand.
If you have any other training needs, please note that we are still shipping all of our other products. If some of your employees are currently remote, we also have online training programs that you can send directly to them to complete on online from anywhere.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We will be happy to assist you as best we can. Stay safe, wash your hands, and hold on tight to hope.
On March 14, 2020 OSHA issued a temporary fit guidance for respiratory protection for Health Care Providers (HCP) in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic crisis. The guidance was in response to a memorandum by the President and was done to ensure HCP have proper and adequate access to N95 or greater respiratory protection.
On March 11, 2020 President Trump authorized the Memorandum
on Making General Use Respirators Available. In the memorandum President Trump
stated “It is the policy of the United States to take proactive measures
to prepare for and respond to public health threats, including the public
health emergency involving Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which was
declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services on February 4,
2020.” He further stated “We must ensure that our healthcare providers have
full access to the products they need. …Unfortunately, at present, public
health experts anticipate shortages in the supply of personal respiratory
devices (respirators) available for use by healthcare workers in mitigating
further transmission of COVID-19.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Secretary
of Health and Human Services shall take all appropriate and necessary
steps with respect to general use respirators to facilitate their emergency use
by healthcare personnel in healthcare facilities and elsewhere… Additionally,
the Secretary of Labor shall consider all appropriate and necessary steps to
increase the availability of respirators.”
OSHA has provided temporary guidance for 29 CFR § 1910.134,
regarding required annual fit-testing which took effect March 14th and
remains in effect until further notice.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
currently recommends that Health Care Providers (HCP), who are providing direct
care of patients with known or suspected COVID-19, practice infection control
procedures. These include engineering controls (e.g., airborne infection
isolation rooms), administrative controls (e.g., cohorting patients, designated
HCP), work practices (e.g., handwashing, disinfecting surfaces), and
appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, face
shields or other eye protection, and gowns. Appropriate respiratory
protection is required for all healthcare personnel providing direct care of
these patients. (For additional guidance, see COVID-19 Hospital
Preparedness Assessment Tool, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/hcp-hospital-checklist.html.)
OSHA recommends HCP employers follow existing CDC
guidelines, including taking measures to conserve supplies of these respirators
while safeguarding HCP. One such measure is that healthcare employers may
provide HCP with another respirator of equal or higher protection, such as N99
or N100 filtering facepieces, reusable elastomeric respirators with appropriate
filters or cartridges, or powered air purifying respirators. They may also change
the method of fit testing from a destructive method (i.e., quantitative) to a
non-destructive method (i.e., qualitative).
Workers should visually inspect the N95 respirator to
determine if the structural and functional integrity of the respirator has been
compromised. Over time, components such as the straps, nose bridge, and nose
foam material may degrade, which can affect the quality of the fit and seal. If
the structural and functional integrity of any part of the respirator is
compromised, or if a successful user seal check cannot be performed, discard
the respirator and try another respirator.
OSHA field offices should use their own discretion regarding
enforcement of the annual fit testing requirement as long as employers:
Make a good-faith effort to comply with 29 CFR § 1910.134;
Use only NIOSH-certified respirators;
Implement CDC and OSHA strategies for optimizing the supply of N95 filtering facepiece respirators and prioritizing their use;
Perform initial fit tests for each HCP with the same model, style, and size respirator that the worker will be required to wear for protection against COVID-19;
Inform workers that the employer is temporarily suspending the annual fit testing of N95 filtering facepiece respirators to preserve and prioritize the supply of respirators for use in situations where they are required to be worn;
Explain to workers the importance of performing a fit check each time they put it on to make sure they are getting an adequate seal from their respirator;
Conduct a fit test if they observe visual changes in the employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit and explain to workers that, if their face shape has changed since their last fit test, they may no longer be getting a good facial seal with the respirator and, thus, are not being adequately protected; and,
Remind workers they must inform their supervisor or their respirator program administrator if the integrity and/or fit of their N95 filtering facepiece respirator is compromised.