OSHA’s Guidance As Non-Essential Businesses Reopen and Employees Return to Work

On Thursday, June 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidance to assist employers reopening non-essential businesses and their employees returning to work during the evolving coronavirus pandemic. Click here to read the press release.

The guidance supplements the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ previously developed Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and the White House’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. The guidelines provide general principles for updating restrictions originally put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. During each phase of the reopening process, employers should continue to focus on strategies for basic hygiene, social distancing, identification and isolation of sick employees, workplace controls and flexibilities, and employee training.

Non-essential businesses should reopen as state and local governments lift stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders and follow public health recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal requirements or guidelines. Employers should continue to consider ways to use workplace flexibilities, such as remote work and alternative business operations, to provide goods and services to customers.

CDC Revises Cleaning and Disinfection for Households

Interim Recommendations for U.S. Households with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)Other LanguagesPrint PageSummary of Recent Changes

Revisions were made on 3/26/2020 to reflect the following:

  • Updated links to EPA-registered disinfectant list
  • Added guidance for disinfection of electronics
  • Updated core disinfection/cleaning guidance

To read the update in its entirety click here.

Temporal Artery Thermometer Readings

Our Industrial Hygienists are conducting temporal artery thermometer readings for servaral of our clients to enter the workplace. The studies below support it and the FDA recommends this as a practice for nonmedical use.

CIH and Industrial Hygienists are considered “Essential Workers”

CISA’s Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers

CISA Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers Graph

“Workers required for effective clinical, command, infrastructure, support service, administrative, security, and intelligence operations across the direct patient care and full healthcare and public health spectrum. Personnel examples may include, but are not limited, to accounting, administrative, admitting and discharge, engineering, accrediting, certification, licensing, credentialing, epidemiological, source plasma and blood donation, food service, environmental services, housekeeping, medical records, information technology and operational technology, nutritionists, sanitarians, respiratory therapists, etc…”

Indoor Environment Plays Role in Virus Transmission

Recently, the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration (ACHR) News published an article titled, “Indoor Environment Plays Role in Virus Transmission” where they cite researchers from two universities reporting that high temperature and humidity levels may reduce the transmission of COVID-19.  To read the full article go to ACHRNews.

AIHA: Recovering from Building COVID Closures

AIHA has provided a guidance document for when buildings reopen from COVID-19 closures. If a building was not properly cleaned for COVID-19 or maintained during the shutdown, opening the building can pose a health hazard to their occupants. These health hazards can be:

  • Mold growth can occur if temperature and humidity levels are not maintained.
  • Legionella is a concern if water systems in buildings are idle.
  • Ensuring COVID-19 is not present prior to reoccupancy by cleaning and disinfecting interior occupied spaces, furnishings, and mechanical per the CDC guidelines.

PHASE Associates can help with the above. We are an AIHA listed consultant with Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs) that have the expertise to review the following:

  • Toxicity and efficacy of disinfectant chemicals
  • Identify safe remediation practices
  • Assess the risk of COVID-19
  • Develop management plans to control other building-related hazards such as Legionella and mold.

Please contact Gary Schwartz at gary@phasessociate.com to find out how we can help you manage building maintenance during the COVID-19 shutdown and how we can help to reopen buildings.

Skin Sensitization

For more information on sensitizers, contact Gary Schwartz at (973) 597-0750.

A recent article in AIHA’s November 2019 Synergist highlighted the topic of skin sensitization. Skin sensitizers are a common hazard encountered in many industries including pharmaceuticals, chemical manufacturing, and food and beverage. Common sensitizers include formaldehyde and various fragrances. Reactions differ amongst exposed individuals due to intensity and duration of exposure, as well as chemical properties and individual sensitivities. Oftentimes, sensitizers do not elicit a reaction upon first exposure. Because of this variability and lack of data, only qualitative assessments can be performed as there is currently no method to quantify workplace exposure to skin sensitization. PHASE Associates has extensive experience in exposure assessment services including recent evaluations of sensitizers during sterilization and foam filling processes. 

National Emphasis Program

For more information on training to properly safeguard machinery or equipment, contact Gary Schwartz at (973) 597-0750.

OSHA published an update to the 2015 National Emphasis Program (NEP) on employee injuries in manufacturing industries. The NEP targets industrial and manufacturing workplaces where amputations are caused by  improperly guarded machinery and equipment. The changes to the NEP include revisions to target method and coding requirements, and new appendices for reporting amputation data from inspections. The program will run until March 10, 2020. OSHA reminds employers that under OSHA Act of 1970 employers are responsible for providing their employees a workplace free of injuries or illnesses.