COVID-19

World Day for Safety and Health at Work

World Day for Safety and Health at Work (World Day) will take place on April 28, 2021. The International Labour Organization (ILO) began observing World Day in 2003 to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally.

World Day is an awareness-raising campaign intended to focus international attention on the magnitude of work-related injuries, diseases, and fatalities worldwide and to highlight the importance of creating and promoting a strong occupational safety and health culture in the workplace.

What is the magnitude of the problem?

  • The ILO estimates that there are 2.3 million fatalities worldwide each year from work-related accidents or diseases; this corresponds to over 6000 deaths every day.
  • Diseases related to workplace exposures cause the most deaths among workers; hazardous substances alone are estimated to cause over 650,000 deaths a year.
  • Worldwide, there are an estimated 340 million occupational accidents and 160 million workers who develop work-related illnesses annually.

What is the focus of […]

OSHA Launches a COVID-19 National Emphasis Program

On March 12, 2021, OSHA announced that it has launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) focusing enforcement efforts at companies where there is the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting COVID-19. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.

 

Why was the NEP Established and What is its Goal?

The NEP is in response to the January 21, 2021 Presidential Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety, which directs OSHA to focus its enforcement efforts related to COVID-19 on violations that put the largest number of workers at increased risk for acquiring COVID-19 in the workplace, and on employers that engage in retaliation against employees who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions related to SARS-CoV-2 exposure.

Per the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick, “This program seeks to substantially […]

From Ph.D. to Safety: Brown BioCon Recap

This past October, Safety Partners had the opportunity to speak at Brown University’s BioCon Seminar.

The BioCon Seminar series is focused on bringing in speakers, with higher degrees in the life sciences, to speak with post-docs, graduate students, and med students about diverse career paths outside of academia.

Each seminar features speakers that discuss their career path, their day-to-day work, and their advice for students and post-docs. This session featured two Safety Partners’ speakers, Dina Lloyd, Consulting Safety Officer (CSO), and Dana Zafiropoulos, Quality, Research, and Training (QRT) Specialist.

Dina graduated from Tufts’ Ph.D. program and Dana graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Ph.D. program before joining Safety Partners. Since both Dina and Dana have successfully made this career transition from academia to environmental, health, and safety (EHS), they shared their experience with Brown students and post-docs and answered questions.

The discussion focused on how to find a career outside of academia and what careers in EHS look like, including […]

Coronavirus Regulatory Enforcement- Are You Ready?

In an October 23rd news release, OSHA announced that since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic through October 15th, they have cited 112 establishments for violations related to Coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $1,603,544. Approximately half of these violations occurred in the month of October!

Coronavirus-related violations cited by OSHA have included failures to:

  • Comply with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard including not implementing a written program, and not providing medical evaluation, fit testing, and training
  • Record injuries or illnesses on OSHA recordkeeping forms
  • Report an injury, illness, or fatality
  • Comply with the General Duty Clause which states that each employer shall furnish to each of his employees, employment, and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.

Of the 112 establishments with violations, five were located in Massachusetts. These included four nursing homes […]

MassDEP Hazardous Waste Management Guidance During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) recently amended its April 8, 2020 Hazardous Waste Management Guidance During the State of Emergency for the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Effective August 26, 2020, MassDEP is implementing the following amended guidance resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic for the items noted below related to hazardous waste management. Learn what you need to do in order to comply with the new regulation:

  • Compliance with hazardous waste container and tank inspection requirements for Small Quantity Generator (SQG) and Large Quantity Generator (LQG) facilities (described at 310 CMR 30.686 and 30.696, respectively) if the facility is closed during the State of Emergency- A facility that is normally subject to container and tank inspection requirements but is closed during the State of Emergency, should make every reasonable effort to do applicable daily/weekly inspections. If employers have concerns about having their employees onsite to do the inspections, then they should contact the DEP at […]

Ventilation in the Time of COVID-19

In our last Industrial Hygiene blog, Airflow in the Laboratory, we discussed the importance of evaluating the airflow of a lab as a whole, and that there’s no one magic ACH (Air Change per Hour) number that automatically makes the lab safer.

With the recent discussion around the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the role that airborne transmission may play, this subject has now reached mainstream media. So should indoor spaces such as labs and offices increase their air changes? And can we treat the air to make it safer?

Everyone is looking for a way back to “normal” and assessment of the ventilation in a space is one key factor to consider.

Case Study: The First Evidence of Airborne Transmission

The first evidence of airborne transmission was from a restaurant in Guangzhou, China. One patron was positive for COVID-19, and became the index case-patient, infecting 9 other customers. These customers were not necessarily closer in proximity to the […]

OSHA Safe + Sound Week

The fourth annual OSHA Safe + Sound Week is being held August 10-16, 2020. This national event is intended to promote the value of workplace health and safety programs. Employers are encouraged to hold events and activities that highlight the elements of their health and safety program during this week. It has been a huge success at Safety Partners’ clients who have participated in previous years!

Why participate?
Participating in the program is a great way to recognize your safety successes and show your commitment to safety! During the COVID-19 pandemic, occupational safety and health programs have never been more important, and this is a perfect time to reinforce yours.

It’s also a great opportunity to raise awareness of your safety program in a fun and engaging way. Participating in Safe + Sound Week can help get your program started, energize an existing one, and provide a chance to recognize your safety successes.

Remember- safe workplaces are sound businesses. […]

Work from Home Ergonomics

Where are you working nowadays? If you said “the dining room table” or “the couch”, you’re not alone and this blog post is for you.

Ergonomics is about optimizing human performance, not just “sitting up straight”. Let’s face it: we could all use a little more ergonomics in our lives. It’s important to ensure good ergonomics to prevent injuries and promote wellness.

Here are some tips that can help improve your ergonomic setup without a lot of fancy (and expensive) equipment:

  • Choose your work area. Working from the couch may seem great until you start experiencing back issues from straining to look at your laptop down on your lap. It’s better to choose a work surface you can fit comfortably under and which is the right height for you.
  • Support your body. Don’t sit on the edge of your chair – allow the back of your chair to support your back. This will help prevent fatigue and […]

New OSHA Guidance on Returning to Work

On June 18th, OSHA issued Guidance on Returning to Work to assist employers reopening non-essential businesses and their employees returning to work during the Coronavirus pandemic. The guidance supplements OSHA’s previously published Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. The guidelines are consistent with the requirements outlined in the Massachusetts Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplaces and recommend that employers continue to focus on strategies for basic hygiene, social distancing, identification and isolation of sick employees, workplace controls and flexibilities, and employee training.

OSHA’s Guidance on Returning to Work includes a section on Employer Frequently Asked Questions. Some of the questions asked have been coming up at our clients, so I thought it would be helpful to share a few. The responses below are summaries, and the OSHA guidance document should be referred to for the full responses.

Can employers conduct work site SARS‑CoV-2 testing?

Yes. Employers may consider implementing strategies to reduce risks to the safety and […]

Massachusetts Safety Standards for Office Spaces During the COVID-19 Reopening Period

On May 18, Governor Baker announced the State’s Plan to safely reopen the Massachusetts economy, while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19. The guidance includes mandatory sector-specific standards and recommended best practices for sectors that are eligible to open in Phase 1. In my May 20th blog, I discussed the Safety Standards for Laboratories. Since that blog was posted, the State has clarified that offices associated with laboratories must comply with The Safety Standards for Office Spaces. Like the Safety Standards for Laboratories, these standards are organized around four categories: social distancing, hygiene protocols, cleaning and disinfecting, and staffing and operations.

Social Distancing

Social distancing requirements for offices include limiting occupancy within the office space to no more than 25% of the maximum occupancy limit specified in the certificate of occupancy, or the typical occupancy as of March 1, 2020. Any business or other organization that has been operating as a “COVID-19 Essential […]