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On July 21, 2020, OSHA announced that two Ohio nursing facilities would receive citations for failing to protect their employees against coronavirus. The healthcare company OHNH EMP LLC received a violation for failing to provide respiratory protection standards for their employees after seven employees reported coronavirus-related hospitalizations.

OSHA inspected three OHNH EMP facilities in Ohio: Pebble Creek Healthcare Center in Akron, Salem West Healthcare Center and Salem North Healthcare Center in Salem. OSHA cited each location for a serious violation of two respiratory protection standards: failing to develop a comprehensive written respiratory protection program and failing to provide medical evaluations to determine employees’ ability to use a respirator in the workplace.

OSHA also issued a Hazard Alert Letter regarding the company’s practice of allowing N95 respirator use for up to seven days and not conducting initial fit testing. The agency has proposed $40,482.

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

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


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

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

Other findings:

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

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


In a break with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Virginia became the first state to adopt an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Virginia’s COVID-19 ETS applies to every employer in the state, unlike California’s Airborne Transmissible Disease (ATD) standard, which only applies to correctional facilities, funeral homes and mortuaries, hospitals and other healthcare facilities, and public services.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 currently is widespread in most U.S. communities and considered a workplace hazard.

The ETS establishes requirements for employers to control, prevent, and mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 among employees. The ETS takes effect as soon as it is published in a Richmond, Virginia, newspaper, with the exception of the standard’s training requirements, which take effect 60 days after the rule’s effective date. The ETS expires within 6 months, upon expiration of the governor’s state of emergency rule, or when it’s repealed by the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board or superseded by a permanent standard.

Most employers in the state must develop infectious disease preparedness and response plans once the rule becomes effective.

The ETS contains provisions for exposure assessments and determinations, notification requirements, and employee access to exposure and medical records. Requirements for all employees and employers mirror some of the guidelines for businesses issued by OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For example, common areas like break rooms and lunchrooms must be closed, or their access must be tightly controlled. Employers must ensure employees observe physical distancing protocols. Frequently touched surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected at least once at the end of each shift, using disinfecting chemicals and products listed in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) List N for use against SARS-CoV-2. Employees should wear cloth face coverings in situations when physical distances of 6 feet cannot be maintained.

The ETS contains more stringent requirements of “very high,” “high,” or “medium” exposure risks. “Very high” exposure risk means potential exposure to known or suspected sources of the SARS-CoV-2 virus during aerosol-generating procedures like patient intubation, collecting or handling laboratory samples, and performing autopsies. “High” exposure risk covers a full range of healthcare facilities and services, as well as emergency medical services and medical transport, and mortuaries.

“Medium” exposure risks cover most agriculture, construction, and general industry workplaces.

Those requirements include engineering controls like adequate ventilation in compliance with American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standards and placing hospitalized patients with known or suspected cases of SARS-CoV-2 in an airborne infection isolation room.

Employers must install physical barriers like clear plastic sneeze guards to aid in mitigating the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 transmission. The standard also incorporates CDC Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) guidelines by reference.

Administrative and work practices controls include screening employees before each work shift for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

Employers must limit nonemployee access to their facilities and post signs requesting patients and family members to immediately report symptoms of respiratory illness on arrival at the healthcare facility and use disposable face coverings.

Employers must provide employees with job-specific education and training on preventing transmission of COVID-19, including initial and routine refresher training, as well as offer enhanced medical monitoring of employees during COVID-19 outbreaks.

In healthcare facilities, employers must provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.

To limit density in a facility, employers are expected to offer, if feasible, telework options and staggered work shifts. Employers should implement physical distances of at least 6 feet between employees and between employees and others at the worksite. Employers also must establish personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protection programs that include medical evaluation, fit testing, and training.

Training under the ETS must cover requirements of the standard, signs and symptoms of COVID-19, infection control measures, and the employer’s preparedness and response plan.


For our returning US workforce, recognizing employees’ personal comfort on the job has never been more significant — especially for at-risk employees.

As the economy continues to reopen and companies across the country return to work during the ever-pressing COVID-19 pandemic, employers and employees alike are looking for more methods to deal with working in a “new normal.” For workers who require proper safety apparel — e.g. those in manufacturing, healthcare, food services, production, construction and machinery operation industries — this will include new ways to comfortably endure standing on one’s feet for long periods of time, while still practicing safe social distancing.

Health concerns

For employees who have returned or are soon returning to work, health concerns are especially high for those who fall into the older age brackets or are immunocompromised. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, about 41 million Americans ages 18 to 64 are at risk for serious complications from COVID-19 due to underlying conditions such as diabetes, uncontrolled asthma and heart disease. Also, on the high-risk list are Americans ages 65 and older – who currently represent the highest percentage of COVID-19 related deaths, and make up about 10.4 million people in the US workforce.

During the pandemic, the manufacturing and labour industry has unfortunately seen a growing number of COVID-19 cases erupting across various states, in particular outbreaks in facilities like meat packing plants and fulfillment centers. As businesses continue to reopen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still maintains strict guidelines for workers to “stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people” and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) whenever possible, in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

OSHA implores that businesses should “develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan that can help guide protective actions against COVID-19,” and for industries that require close in-person work, to “move or reposition workstations to create more distance” and “rearrange seating in common break areas to maintain physical distance between workers.”

Workers’ comfort

Foot comfort and protection are always top of mind for the companies across the manufacturing, construction and warehousing-based industries. But as the workforce returns with CDC and OSHA safety guidelines in place, extra attention must be given to immunocompromised and senior employees, who may have a significant increased risk of contracting the virus on the job. Considering the millions of Americans who’ve been laid off or furloughed as a result of COVID-19, this also means that many vulnerable members of the aging population who’ve returned to work (or plan to do so soon) are doing so out of sheer monetary necessity.

Moreover, for this industry, the typical safety practices like standing on rubber floor mats that ease fatigue — which were previously standard practice across various facilities — are no longer relevant to immunocompromised employees who may fear standing too close to each other. An alternative solution is the shoe/boot insole.

Although far from new to the manufacturing industry, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the request for insoles as PPE has substantially increased by frontline healthcare and essential workers who are prone to standing for long periods of time. A properly cushioned heel and arch support insole should keep employees feeling comfortable all day, reduce pain, and overall offer more flexibility on and off site.

This type of foot comfort is imperative to keep the aging workforce moving. Without ergonomically efficient foot support, foot pain and fatigue can have lasting effects on the body and create harmful musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) — a disorder that older employees are at a particular high risk for. As feet hold humans’ entire bodyweight, damage done to the foot on the job can leave permanent lifelong impacts.

Aging workforce

As the economy reopens, finding the right foot-safety support for immunocompromised and senior employees is based on both lasting comfort, as well as their personal freedom to safely socially distance at work.

A recent study from SmartAsset showed that 45 percent of respondents ages 55-64 have had their retirement planning negatively impacted due to COVID-19. With no clear end date yet for the pandemic, many working Americans — who are working past age 65 at a larger rate than ever — have had to further push out their retirement plans in effort to make up lost finances from the pandemic. With a quickly aging workforce, it’s imperative that employers keep a close eye on the health and safety standards of their more vulnerable employees now more than ever, making sure that they have the tools to succeed comfortably on the job.


THURSDAY, July 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Lockdown measures helped reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in countries around the world, a new study finds.

Moreover, earlier stay-in-place restrictions such as closing schools and workplaces were tied to a greater reduction in cases, according to British researchers.

The findings, published July 15 in the BMJ, were based on data from 149 countries and regions.

"These findings might support policy decisions as countries prepare to impose or lift physical distancing measures in current or future epidemic waves," study co-author Nazrul Islam said in a journal news release.

Islam is a research fellow and medical statistician at the University of Oxford.

He and his team compared new cases of COVID-19 before and up to 30 days after the introduction of physical-distancing measures, such as restricting large gatherings and closing schools, workplaces and public transit.

On average, such measures were implemented nine days after the first reported case of COVID-19. However, some countries took longer to implement measures, including Thailand (58 days), Australia (51 days), Canada (46 days), and Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom (45 days). Finland and Malaysia issued orders after 42 days, while Cambodia, Sweden and the United States did so after 40 days.

Implementation of any physical distancing measure was associated with an overall 13% average reduction in COVID-19 incidence, the study found.

In combination, restrictions on mass gatherings and closures of schools and workplaces appeared to play a significant role in the reduction of COVID-19 cases. But shutting down public transit when the other measures were in place wasn't associated with an additional decline in COVID-19 cases, likely because fewer people were using public transportation, according to the authors.

The study provides important early evidence for the effectiveness of lockdown measures in controlling the new coronavirus pandemic, Thomas May, of Washington State University, wrote in an accompanying editorial.

However, the study can't prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship. And, May said, the findings need to be interpreted with caution due to shortfalls in testing practices and data collection in many countries.

"We must be careful not to mislead or overplay politically convenient findings and risk violating the public trust necessary for an effective pandemic response," May wrote.




A substantial number of face masks, claiming to be of KN95 standards, provide an inadequate level of protection and are likely to be poor quality products accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork. These face masks may also be known as filtering facepiece respirators.

KN95 is a performance rating under the Chinese standard GB2626:2006, the requirements of which are broadly the same as the European standard BSEN149:2001+A1:2009 for FFP2 facemasks. However, there is no independent certification or assurance of their quality and products manufactured to KN95 rating are declared as compliant by the manufacturer.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) cannot be sold or supplied as PPE unless it is CE marked. The only exception is for PPE that is organised by the UK Government for use by NHS or other healthcare workers where assessments have been undertaken by HSE as the Market Surveillance Authority.

Action required

KN95 must not be used as PPE at work unless their supply has been agreed by HSE as the Market Surveillance Authority.

Masks that are not CE marked and cannot be shown to be compliant must be removed from supply immediately. If these masks have not been through the necessary safety assessments, their effectiveness in controlling risks to health cannot be assured for anyone buying or using them. They are unlikely to provide the protection expected or required.

For those that are CE marked, suppliers must be able to demonstrate how they know the documentation and CE marking is genuine, supported by Notified Body documentation showing compliance with the essential health and safety requirements as required by the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (EU) 2016/425.

Relevant legal documents

● Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (EU) 2016/425
● Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018


A recent article by the New York Times gives readers an understanding how events have unfolded since the doctors first detected the coronavirus in Wuhan, China. For many, this pandemic has felt like it has lasted much longer than six months, but you might be surprised at the notable events (good or bad) that have happened in a short amount of time.

The Times’ coronavirus timeline walks you through the pandemic’s notable events, starting with Chinese authorities treating dozens of cases of an unknown pneumonia in December 2019 until current day, when Brazil’s president tests positive for the virus in July of 2020.

The coronavirus has covered all corners of the globe and affected nearly every facet of life including the global economies, politics, education, workplace culture, pandemic planning, retail, the healthcare industry and much more. The world has gone from one confirmed, official death in China on January 11 to nearly 544,200 in less than a year.

Since then, the World Health Organization declared the situation a global health emergency and global pandemic, international travel halted and the U.S. became one of the leading hotspots for the virus with over 3 million cases to date. There is still no approved vaccine for the public.

The Times’ coronavirus timeline helps readers have a more tangible understanding of just how much has happened over the last few months, and how much a pandemic can affect. And as much as this crisis took the world by surprise, experts, scientists and even Bill Gates has been warning of an outbreak like this for years.

The gravity of the situation is much bigger than a “flu” with a “low death rate.” With thousands already dead, economies tanking and the world struggling to breathe, the coronavirus pandemic has shown us just how much is at stake in our interconnected world.

Hopefully, the Times’ coronavirus timeline helps readers understand the crisis in relative terms of time, expanse and internationality. This fight, many say, is only beginning.


Response Initiative is an online platform that serves as an intermediary between buyers and sellers of PPE and other medical supplies, allowing companies to register at no cost.

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched Response Initiative (RRI) to help ease the growing demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) among businesses and healthcare providers as they continue to deal with the impact of COVID-19.

RRI is an online platform that serves as an intermediary between buyers and sellers of PPE and other medical supplies. Companies that buy and sell PPE and medical equipment can register at no cost.

The platform was initially launched with 15 approved suppliers from the UAE providing a wide range of products, including surgical and reusable facemasks and shields, safety goggles, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, medical gowns and coveralls, ventilators and thermometers.

“This first-of-its-kind initiative supports Dubai Chamber’s efforts to enhance ease of doing business in Dubai and facilitate trade, while it also positions the emirate as a global smart city leveraging digital tools to help fight the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Belaid Rettab, Senior Director, Economic Research and Sustainable Business Development Sector, Dubai Chamber.

“Businesses using the marketplace can benefit by reducing costs when buying PPE, generating new leads, building long-term partnerships with reliable suppliers. We encourage companies operating in this field to leverage the platform to capitalise on new business opportunities and boost their online exposure,” he added.


The government have announced a relaxation of the guidelines around working on site for many industries. So, we've complied some handy information to help you keep your facility clean and hygienic during the Coronavirus crisis.

Given how infectious the COVID-19 virus is, there is now an even greater focus on keeping workplaces clean. The government’s recent announcement of a phased relaxation of social distancing rules means that people are gradually returning to work. Therefore, it is more important than ever that we, as employers, do all we can to ensure our facilities comply with guidelines around hygiene and cleaning. There is a wealth of information out there, so to help you protect your workforce quickly and effectively, we have we have compiled a selection of the measures that we think are most relevant. We have also given a few examples of things we are doing here at A-SAFE to keep our essential workers safe at this time.

In this guide we will explore:

● How cleaning your facility can help in the fight against COVID-19
● The appropriate cleaning products and equipment
● How to implement enhanced cleaning measures
● Areas in a busy work environment that require additional attention

How effective cleaning can help limit the spread of COVID-19

Coronavirus spreads easily between individuals through close contact and airborne particles from coughs or sneezes. It can also be contracted through contact with surfaces that are contaminated with the virus. As these government guidelines suggest, cleaning your work areas and surfaces can help to reduce the chance of infection.

At A-SAFE, we have performed a series of risk assessments to highlight priority areas and touchpoints around our factory, warehouse and offices. These are the surfaces and areas with which our employees are most likely to come into physical contact. Therefore, they need to be cleaned and disinfected more frequently.

The current situation poses a lot of unknowns and variables, so it is important to be reactive. As our Health and Safety Advisor, Jaroslaw Borek, explains, “Aside from the government guidelines, there is little research or evidence available to inform the risks we should be aware of, meaning we have to implement suitable and sufficient assessments to the best of our ability. However, as the guidelines change and adapt, so too will our risk assessments.”

How long does the virus remain on surfaces and objects?

The government states that “…in most circumstances, the risk is likely to be reduced significantly after 72 hours.” Therefore, if you believe the virus has been introduced to an area or part of your facility, it is crucial that you isolate this area for the suggested time and then perform a deep clean.

Are there any areas of my workplace that require more frequent cleaning?

Areas that will require more cleaning are those with high levels of contact, such as bathrooms, guide handrails, tables, door handles and office equipment such as telephones and keyboards. This is known as touch-point cleaning.

Government guidelines state: “Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time, such as corridors, but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids can be cleaned thoroughly as normal.”

Are strict cleaning routines only important if areas have come into contact with someone carrying the virus?

The government and the World Health Organisation have stated, it is important to maintain enhanced cleaning processes regardless of whether cases have been found on site or not. As customers who have visited our site will already know, at A-SAFE we have always maintained a very high standard of hygiene at all times.

Some of our standard cleaning processes include:

● A daytime cleaner focusing on offices, kitchens, toilets and corridors
● A team of evening cleaners who perform a deep clean across our offices
● Shift cleaners on the production line and in the warehouse who clean machines and equipment regularly
● Informational areas encouraging all staff to clean up after themselves, load dishwashers, etc.
● Rigorous implementation of 5S for an organised, clean and productive workplace

How has A-SAFE increased cleaning processes on site?

Since the Coronavirus crisis took hold, we have done all we can to enhance our cleaning processes even further. This includes:

Regular cleaning rotas
Our cleaning staff continue to thoroughly clean our offices, toilets, shower rooms and communal areas such as canteens and kitchens. This includes cleaning and disinfecting all areas and mopping floors. In addition to this, we have introduced a series of cleaning rotas for each office that focuses specifically on any touchpoints identified in the risk assessments.

These rotas have a regular cleaning cycle of every hour, so staff can share the responsibility of maintaining hygiene in their office throughout the day. Each time someone cleans down these touchpoints, they add their name along with a timestamp to the rota, so we can be sure they are being maintained.

Handwash and sanitiser stations

We have converted existing toilets, washrooms and drink-making facilities into dedicated hand wash stations that are clearly signposted around our offices, warehouse and shop floor. We have also installed hand sanitiser stations at each entrance and exit with visual reminders to staff. A member of management also reminds staff to wash their hands at regular intervals during their shift.


OSHA has issued Frequently Asked Questions that explain the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks and respirators.

The resource is extensive, but some highlights include:

Cloth face coverings do not constitute personal protective equipment. Surgical masks are not considered to be PPE if they are being used solely to contain the respiratory droplets of the person wearing them (referred to by OSHA as “source control”). Although employers are not required to provide their employees with cloth face coverings or surgical masks, the use of such face coverings and/or surgical masks would constitute part of “a control plan designed to address hazards from SARS-CoV-2” under the General Duty Clause.

OSHA suggests following CDC guidance on washing face coverings. OSHA explains, “Employers may choose to use cloth face coverings as a means of source control . . . [where] transmission risk cannot be controlled through engineering or administrative controls, including social distancing.”

OSHA also reiterates guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that cloth face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing.

OSHA also emphasizes that surgical masks and cloth face coverings, including in the construction industry, are not acceptable substitutes where respirators are required due to exposures to contaminants such as asbestos or silica.

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

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and OSHA have described crisis strategies intended for use in healthcare in which surgical masks or cloth face coverings may offer more protection than no mask at all when respirators are needed but are not available. Such information is not intended to suggest that surgical masks or cloth face coverings provide adequate protection against exposure to airborne contaminants for which respirators would ordinarily be needed. Although OSHA's enforcement guidance describes equipment prioritization that includes surgical masks, employers must still comply with the provisions of any standards that apply to the types of exposures their workers may face. For example, the permissible exposure limits of all substance-specific standards, such as asbestos and silica, remain in place, and surgical masks are not an acceptable means of protection when respirators would otherwise be required (e.g., when engineering, administrative, and work practice controls do not sufficiently control exposures).

If respirators are needed but not available (including as described in the OSHA enforcement guidance noted above), and hazards cannot otherwise be adequately controlled through other elements of the hierarchy of controls (i.e., elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and/or safe work practices), avoid worker exposure to the hazard. Whenever a hazard presents an imminent danger, and in additional situations whenever feasible, the task should be delayed until feasible control measures are available to prevent exposures or reduce them to acceptable levels (i.e., at or below applicable OSHA permissible exposure limits)."

According to this latest OSHA guidance, if respirators are not available where a Permissible Exposure Limit is exceeded, worker exposure should be avoided by delaying the task until feasible control measures are available to reduce the exposures below the Permissible Exposure Limit.


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