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WORKPLACE SAFETY

FDA reverses course on healthcare worker re-use of N95 masks

For decades, the N95 filtered mask has been a vital piece of personal protective equipment for frontline medical workers. But for months, shortages of that precious item which was previously taken for granted left countless health care workers defenseless from exposure to the coronavirus. The good news is that the N95 shortages have finally abated, with surplus stockpiles enough to last three to 12 months. As a result, federal regulators are beginning to unwind some of the health and safety shortcuts they authorized labs to take to deal with the lack of adequate N95 supplies. The FDA calls for ending N95 recycling & sharing National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standards dictate that N95 masks be used once and then thrown away. But as an emergency response to… . . . read more.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Protect healthcare staff from violence and virus post-pandemic

 By Shawn Paul & Joe Anderson If the nation has learned anything from the COVID-19 crisis, it’s that advance planning in safety preparedness is vital to our ability to respond to emergencies, whether they’re viral, violent, or otherwise. Healthcare organizations in particular need procedures and sufficient up-to-date equipment to quickly respond to potentially confusing and fluid circumstances. The coronavirus crisis has also illuminated the dangerous problem of workplace violence against medical caregivers, an issue that healthcare organizations now have a unique opportunity to address. 7 out of 10  Of all professions, healthcare workers are the number one victims of workplace violence across the country. OSHA reports that 70% of claims for injuries from violence occur in a healthcare setting. Until relatively recently, many nursing veterans (and the administrators responsible for their… . . . read more.

QUIZ

Who Has OSHA responsibility for the health & safety of a temp?

What are your OSHA duties to temporary workers (“temps”) whom you hire from a temp agency to work at your medical office? Stated differently, are you or the temp agency responsible for the temp’s health and safety? Here’s a set of scenario quizzes that illustrate how the rules work. SCENARIO 1: RESPONSIBILITY FOR HAZCOM TRAINING The Temps R’Us Agency (Agency) assigns an employee to temporary work at XYZ Medical Office (Office). Agency is aware that Office’s workers handle and use hazardous chemicals for testing operations. But the temp has no Hazcom training whatsoever. As a result, he suffers an injury as a result of exposure to a toxic chemical while working for Office. QUESTION Who’s responsible for providing the temp the required Hazcom training? Agency Office Both Neither ANSWER Both… . . . read more.

MANAGING STAFF

Dare we ask our coworkers: Are you safe?

By Lynne Curry bio Question: We have a small eight-person medical admin office. We don’t interact with the patients. Although we’ve worked remotely for the past year, we’ll be moving back into the office in the next few weeks. We’re generally looking forward to it, Most of my coworkers have been vaccinated. We talk on Zoom about how happy we are to have gotten vaccinated and compare side-effect stories. Two of our coworkers don’t participate in these discussions. I suspect they haven’t been vaccinated and don’t intend to get vaccinated. Am I allowed to ask? Is it necessary or appropriate to have different rules regarding masks for different employees; for example, “masks aren’t required unless a meeting includes person “x”? Can we forgo masks all the time and figure any… . . . read more.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Pandemic fatigue feels like it’s starting over

By Dan Scungio bio In discussions with healthcare safety professionals across the country this year, some of the same safety issues seemed to crop up over and over. Lab staff are tired, they’re fatigued about dealing with COVID-19, and they just don’t seem to be focused on lab safety anymore. They aren’t following good safety practices, they aren’t wearing gloves, lab coats, masks, or even eye protection. Of course, this is a problem that needs attention. The hazards faced in the workplace are not limited to coronaviruses, and these unhealthy practices can lead to some bad outcomes. Despite the pandemic, this issue with staff is not a new one. Those who have worked in lab settings for years can easily become complacent about safety. They begin to notice over time… . . . read more.

TOOL

Model Medical Office Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection Policy

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other public health organizations mandate that employers take additional cleaning and hygiene measures during the pandemic. Here’s a Model Policy you can adapt for your own use based on your specific circumstances and applicable local and specialty rules.

Tool: Voluntary COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

It is important to ensure that your medical office staff get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect not only themselves but also co-workers, patients and others at your facility. But what if workers neglect or just plain refuse to be vaccinated? There are two basic options: Option 1: Require staff to be vaccinated Option 2: Encourage staff to be vaccinated voluntarily Here’s a Model Policy you can use to implement Option 2.

TOOL

Model Social Distancing Policy

As the pandemic drags on, medical offices and other essential businesses that remain open must be scrupulous to ensure employees maintain social distancing both at and away from the workplace. Here’s a Model Policy you can adapt to accomplish that objective in accordance with your specific circumstances and the terms of the latest public health guidelines in effect in your state or city.

TOOL

Medical Office Worker’s Acknowledgement of Decision to Decline COVID-19 Vaccination

It behooves you to ensure that medical office staff get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect not only themselves but also co-workers, patients and others at your facility. But what if workers neglect or just plain refuse to be vaccinated? There are two basic options: Option 1: Require medical office workers to be vaccinated Option 2: Encourage medical office workers to be vaccinated voluntarily If you select Option 2, require workers to sign a form acknowledging that they were offered the vaccine and voluntarily declined to accept it and list the reasons for doing so. Here’s a Model Policy you can adapt.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Mandatory COVID vaccination: new guidance & update

By Lynne Curry bio Can employers require their employees to receive COVID-vaccinations? While vaccination is one of an employer’s best tools for preventing COVID-19 outbreaks at their worksites, requiring employees to be vaccinated and disciplining them if they refuse comes with legal risks. Although the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s December 2020 guidelines stated that employers could implement and enforce mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for certain jobs and with certain exceptions1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that recipients of vaccines under an “emergency use authorization” (which includes the current COVID vaccines) must be informed that they have the option to accept or refuse the vaccination. For more detail on this federal agency contradiction, see https://workplacecoachblog.com/2021/01/covid-vaccination-update-in-light-of-the-vaccines-emergency-use-authorization-status/ “The current problem,” says Perkins Coie Senior Counsel Michael O’Brien, “is that many… . . . read more.


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