Jun 1, 2020

OSHA Releases Summary List of Guidance Documents Taken to Protect Workers During COVID-19

On May 28, 2020 OSHA released a comprehensive list of guidance documents, statements, and actions they've taken to help protect workers during the coronavirus pandemic.  The list is categorized into the following primary topic areas.  

They are:
  • Respirator Guidance
  • Protecting Workers in High-Risk Industries
  • Enforcing Safety in the Workplace
  • Offering Clear Direction for Employers

The list is a great way to see if you've missed anything.

 Source:

CDC - Sobering statistics on COVID among Healthcare Personnels

CDC released new statistics yesterday.  
One of the more sobering for the health care community are the number of cases and the number of fatalities within the health care community. This is made even more significant by the fact that CDC only has the mortality status for only 56.4% of the cases among health care personnel.
 
Cases & Deaths among Healthcare Personnel
Data were collected from 1,417,310 people, but healthcare personnel status was only available for 304,479 (21.5%) people. For the 66,447 cases of COVID-19 among healthcare personnel, death status was only available for 37,485 (56.4%).

CASES AMONG HCP 66,447

DEATHS AMONG HCP 318

See full from CDC :

May 26, 2020

OSHA Will Examine if Employers Determined Whether Employee COVID-19 Cases are Work Related for Purposes of Recording Workplace Injury and Illnesses

On May 19, 2019, OSHA issued another enforcement guidance memorandum
regarding recording COVID-19 cases that rescinds the prior guidance and obligates employers to make at least some work-related determinations regarding employees who contract COVID-19. The new memorandum goes into effect May 26, 2020, and will remain in effect until further notice.

By way of background, OSHA has explained that a COVID-19 case is a recordable illness if (1) an employee is positive or presumptively positive for COVID-19; (2) the case is work-related; and (3) the case results in medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work. For employers, the "million-dollar" question remains: How does an employer determine whether an employee's COVID-19 case is work-related such that it is recordable on the employer's Injury and Illness logs?

OSHA's May 19 memorandum seeks to help employers address this question.

To start, OSHA will exercise its enforcement discretion to assess employers' efforts in making work-related determinations. This means that employers, at a minimum, must undertake an investigation to determine whether the COVID-19 case is work-related.

To this end, when an employer learns of an employee's COVID-19 illness, the employer should, at a minimum:

Ask the employee how he believes he contracted the COVID-19 illness;
 
While respecting employee privacy, discuss with the employee his work and out-of-work activities that may have led to the COVID-19 illness; and
 
Review the employee's work environment for potential COVID-19 exposure.

The employer should base its work-related determination should be based on the information reasonably available it at the time; however, if the employer later learns more information related to an employee's COVID-19 illness, the employer should then take that information into account and revisit whether the illness is work-related.

The memorandum explains that after a reasonable and good faith inquiry, if the employer cannot determine whether it is more likely than not that exposure in the workplace played a causal role with respect to a particular case of COVID-19, the employer does not need to record that COVID-19 illness.

The memorandum instructs Compliance Officers to consider the questions below when determining whether an employer has complied with its recording obligation. That is, evidence and information regarding answers to these questions may weigh in favor of or against work-relatedness.

Read memorandum at:

May 21, 2020

Department of Energy Announces $67 Million to Enhance Manufacturing Competitiveness Through Innovation

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced a $67 million funding opportunity to stimulate technology innovation, improve the energy productivity of American manufacturing, and enable the manufacturing of cutting-edge products in the United States.

"As we move into the future, energy competitiveness is becoming increasingly critical to manufacturing competitiveness, and the Trump Administration is fully committed to securing U.S. leadership in manufacturing," said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. "To create and sustain American leadership in advanced manufacturing, DOE is investing in new industrial technologies, materials, and processes that will help bolster American manufacturing."

In its report, "Strategy for American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing," the White House identified advanced manufacturing as one of the vital industries of the future, stating, "Federal, State, and local governments must work together to support advanced manufacturing through collective actions that support research and development, develop the workforce, promote free and fair trade, and create a regulatory and tax system that unleashes the private sector."

Read on at

May 20, 2020

News Release from OSHA: Revised Enforcement Policies For Coronavirus

OSHA Department of Labor, United States of America  
News Release

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has adopted revised policies for enforcing OSHA's requirements with respect to coronavirus as economies reopen in states throughout the country.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, understanding about the transmission and prevention of infection has improved. The government and the private sector have taken rapid and evolving measures to slow the virus's spread, protect employees, and adapt to new ways of doing business.

Now, as states begin reopening their economies, OSHA has issued two revised enforcement policies to ensure employers are taking action to protect their employees.

First, OSHA is increasing in-person inspections at all types of workplaces. The new enforcement guidance reflects changing circumstances in which many non-critical businesses have begun to reopen in areas of lower community spread. The risk of transmission is lower in specific categories of workplaces, and personal protective equipment potentially needed for inspections is more widely available. OSHA staff will continue to prioritize COVID-19 inspections, and will utilize all enforcement tools as OSHA has historically done.

Second, OSHA is revising its previous enforcement policy for recording cases of coronavirus. Under OSHA's recordkeeping requirements, coronavirus is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of the coronavirus, if the case:

- Is confirmed as a coronavirus illness;
- Is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
- Involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.

Under the new policy issued today, OSHA will enforce the recordkeeping requirements of 29 CFR 1904 for employee coronavirus illnesses for all employers. Given the nature of the disease and community spread, however, in many instances it remains difficult to determine whether a coronavirus illness is work-related, especially when an employee has experienced potential exposure both in and out of the workplace. OSHA's guidance emphasizes that employers must make reasonable efforts, based on the evidence available to the employer, to ascertain whether a particular case of coronavirus is work-related.

Recording a coronavirus illness does not mean that the employer has violated any OSHA standard. Following existing regulations, employers with 10 or fewer employees and certain employers in low hazard industries have no recording obligations; they need only report work-related coronavirus illnesses that result in a fatality or an employee's in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.[1]

For further information and resources about the coronavirus disease, please visit OSHA's coronavirus webpage.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

[1] See 29 C.F.R. §§ 1904.1(a)(1), 1904.2.

###

May 15, 2020

Wisconsin Washington/Ozaukee Public Health Department “Blueprint for Reopening Washington and Ozaukee Counties”

The Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department (WOPHD) released the "Blueprint for Reopening Washington and Ozaukee Counties"

The Blueprint provides broad guidance for reopening the economy safely and incrementally after Governor Evers' Safer at Home order is lifted.

May 11, 2020

New Chemical Accident Reporting Requirements

This Operating Experience Level 3 (OE-3) document provides information on a new requirement imposed by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) to report certain accidental releases of chemicals. The CSB requires reporting of any accidental release into the ambient air that results in a fatality, serious injury, or substantial property damage. This new reporting requirement is distinct and separate from other release reporting requirements from other governmental agencies. This OE-3 document includes the applicability criteria for reporting an accidental release, steps to report the release, and a recommendation to update protocols and procedures.

New Chemical Accident Reporting Requirements here;

May 8, 2020

Complimentary Webinar Employer Workplace Prevention of COVID-19 Airborne Transmission

Employer Workplace Prevention of COVID-19 Airborne Transmission:
Applying OSHA's Hierarchy of Controls

Maintain a safe work environment by learning about personal protection for infectious diseases, COVID-19 airborne prevention and recommendations for engineering work-practice. Provide a safe and healthful work environment to your employees as required by OSHA's General Duty Clause law.

Complimentary Webinar presented by Waubonsee Community College

Presenter: Michael Serpe, CSP, BSEM
Tuesday, May 12,  9 - 11 a.m. CT

RSVP for Webinar
https://www.waubonsee.edu/education-and-workforce-development-webinar-sign

35 years later, Bhopal gas leak failures resurface in Vizag

In Vizag, the 11 deaths so far and hundreds of affected people in hospital indicate that styrene must have escaped in extremely high concentrations and affected the nearby population.


Thirty six years after the Bhopal disaster, it is distressing to see accidents from hazardous industries. The fields of occupational and environmental medicine, toxicology, and epidemiology which study and prevent industrial accidents have still not been developed adequately to cater for the amount of industrial development that has occurred in India. After the Bhopal disaster, I was frustrated that this field was not available in India and I had to go overseas to study these subjects. In 2020, I'm not sure very much has changed.

Please read on from source
https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/35-years-later-bhopal-gas-leak-failures-resurface-in-vizag/story-blOMncph2Az8RJO4yKTvUO.html

May 4, 2020

Solar and Wind Cheapest Sources of Power in Most of the World

(BloomBerg) A decade ago, solar was more than $300 a megawatt-hour and onshore wind exceeded $100 per megawatt-hour. Today, onshore wind is $37 in the U.S. and $30 in Brazil, while solar is $38 in China, the cheapest sources of new electricity in those countries.

Battery storage is also getting more competitive. The levelized cost of electricity for batteries has fallen to $150 a megawatt-hour, about half of what it was two years ago. That's made it the cheapest new peaking-power technology in places that import gas, including Europe, China and Japan.

Apr 29, 2020

Dr Michael Osterholm, head of CIDRAP, weekly podcasts on covid-19

In case you haven't heard these, Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of CIDRAP (Univ of MN Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy), has spent his life working with epidemics and he's been giving weekly podcasts on covid-19 for 5 weeks. They are listed here:
  •         Episode 1: How We Got Here (March 24, 2020)
  •         Episode 2: The Global Coronavirus Response (March 31, 2020)
  •         Episode 3: Preparing For What's To Come (April 8, 2020)
  •         Episode 4: The Reality of Testing (April 14, 2020)
  •         Episode 5: Living with the Virus (April 22, 2020)

And you can find them here https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19/podcasts-webinars They are very interesting and informative.

Apr 24, 2020

WEBINAR | COVID-19 and Your Workplace: Getting Back to Work Safely

COVID-19 and Your Workplace: Getting Back to Work Safely

Here are three simple questions:
  1. Does your organization have an updated infectious disease control program?
  2. Does your organization have training modules for supervisors and employees to understand COVID-19 exposures and best practices?
  3. Do you know the recordkeeping requirements for COVID-19?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, join us next Wednesday April 29th at 1pm CST for a live webinar. Attendees will leave with:

  • Knowledge from a front-line occupational medicine doctor
  • Insights on supply chain constraints for PPE
  • Action steps for implementing an exposure control plan
  • Opportunity to purchase COVID-19 program documents and training modules

Register for the Webinar Today
https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1938373435447790351

Apr 22, 2020

EPA Publishes Scope Documents for 20 Risk Evaluation Chemicals

(PAINT.ORG) This month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published 20 draft scope documents for high-priority chemicals undergoing Risk Evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). These are the 20 high priority chemicals that EPA designated for TSCA Risk Evaluation in December 2019.

EPA is accepting comments on the first 13 scoping documents, made available on April 6, through May 26. By statute, EPA must finalize scoping documents by June 20, 2020. Stakeholders must submit comment on the second batch of seven chemicals within 45 days of publication in the Federal Register. At this writing, EPA had not published in the Federal Register.

The scope documents include the proposed conditions of use, hazards, exposures, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations that EPA expects to consider in the TSCA risk evaluations. The documents also include: a description of the reasonably available information and the science approaches that EPA plans to use, a conceptual model that outlines the potential hazards and exposures throughout the life cycle of the chemical, an analysis plan to identify the approaches and methods EPA plans to use to assess health and environmental factors, and a potential plan for peer review.

Notably, EPA has not proposed exclusions for de minimis amounts. EPA may consider exclusions for de minimis amounts on a case-by-case basis, with supporting data. Information related to amounts in products or used in processes, exposures or controls/personal protective equipment (PPE) may be useful in seeking such an exemption.

EPA also generally includes disposal as a condition of use where it did not in the first 10 chemicals it evaluated. This is likely due to the 9th Circuit's opinion in Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, et. al. v. EPA (No. 17-72260), where the 9th Circuit evaluated scope of EPA risk evaluations as required by EPA's risk evaluation framework rule.

The 20 Scoping Documents are as follows:

Apr 17, 2020

New class action launched over Pfas toxic firefighting chemicals used by defense

Lawyers have launched a new class action on behalf of tens of thousands of residents over the defense department's use of toxic firefighting chemicals.

The case will allege defence's use of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (Pfas) had "cataclysmic consequences" for residents in Wodonga, Darwin, Townsville, Wagga Wagga, Edinburgh and Bullsbrook.

The highly persistent and probable carcinogens were used for decades in firefighting foam on defence bases, leaching into nearby land and water supplies, contaminating food and accumulating in humans.

Residents near two other military bases – in Oakey, Queensland and Katherine, Northern Territory – reached a $212.5m settlement with the federal government over Pfas contamination in February.

Apr 14, 2020

U.S. Department of Labor Announces OSHA Interim Enforcement Response Plan to Protect Workers during the Coronavirus Pandemic

OSHA – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced an interim enforcement response plan for the coronavirus pandemic. The response plan provides instructions and guidance to OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports.

During the coronavirus outbreak, OSHA Area Offices will utilize their inspection resources to fulfill mission essential functions and protect workers exposed to the disease. The response plan contains interim procedures that allow flexibility and discretion for field offices to maximize OSHA's impact in securing safe workplaces in this evolving environment.

"OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America's workers during this challenging time in our nation's history," Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt said. "Today's guidance outlines commonsense procedures for investigating complaints related to the coronavirus, while also ensuring the safety of workers, employers, and inspectors."

The response plan outlines procedures for addressing reports of workplace hazards related to the coronavirus. Fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to the coronavirus will be prioritized for on-site inspections. The response plan contains procedures and sample documentation for CSHOs to use during coronavirus-related inspections. Workers requesting inspections, complaining of coronavirus exposure, or reporting illnesses may be protected under one or more whistleblower statutes and will be informed of their protections from retaliation.

This memorandum will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice. It is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis. Check OSHA's webpage at http://www.osha.gov/coronavirus frequently for updates.

Apr 9, 2020

Free CDC webinar on Elastomeric Respirators for U.S. Healthcare Delivery

Here is a link to details about reusable elastomeric respirator use in healthcare. This includes findings and recommendations from a compilation of ongoing studies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wd5Bx2fVDI

This webinar provides an overview of respiratory protection and guidance surrounding supply shortages. This webinar also provides information on infection prevention measures, strategies for optimizing the supply of N95 respirators, and a broad overview of the use of elastomeric respirators in healthcare. Guidance on Elastomeric Respirators is currently in development.

This video can also be viewed at
https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/videos/low-res/coronavirus/Elastomeric_Respirators_Webinar.mp4

Apr 8, 2020

Risk based chart on when to use masks or respirators for Covid-19

When to use masks or respirators for Covid-19 is confusing.
Chart below suggests general concepts for selecting based on risk and protection effectiveness for worker using it. 

From University of Arizona Occupational Medicine.


OSHA Issues Guidance for Respirators Certified under Other Countries' Standards During COVID-19 Pandemic

On Friday 4/3/2020, OSHA issued guidance that allows for use of some alternative respirators – see news release here:

and Enforcement Guidance here: 

Several Free ASSP podcasts on Covid19

Listen to the latest podcast to learn how to assess your workers'
COVID19 risk level and discover steps you can take to protect them.

https://www.assp.org/standards/safety-standards-and-tech-pubs-podcast

Apr 7, 2020

Department of Energy Announces New Funding to Train Emergency Response and Building Professionals

The U.S. Department of Energy announced $4.5 million in funding for training programs for professionals who interact with distributed energy resources, including solar energy systems, storage systems, "smart" building technologies, and electric vehicles. These professionals include those that lead the nation's emergency response and resilience planning, including firefighters, first responders, and safety officials.

Read more

https://www.energy.gov/eere/articles/department-energy-announces-new-funding-train-emergency-response-and-building

Chernobyl in Ukraine: Firefighters battling radioactive forest

Emergency units are trying to contain fires in radiation-contaminated forest near the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear plant. The fires have caused a spike in radioactivity in the area.

The fires have raised fears that radiation from the area could be dispersed farther afield, but authorities said while radiation in the fire zone was far above normal levels, levels in the capital, Kyiv, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south, were within norms.

CPAPs can be repurposed into ventilators.

To my friends here in the health and medical fields
please share that CPAPs can be repurposed into ventilators.

A life line to many.

Thank you,
Christopher Haase

Apr 2, 2020

Toxnet Occupational Health relational database information moved to Haz-Map.

With the National Library of Medicine's decision to shutdown Toxnet much of its content moved to other NLM website, independent of NLM at
http://haz-map.com/

The content of the Haz-Map data tables is the same but the user interface has been improved. Improvements include adding chemical structures, adding popup tips to some agent fields, adding new agent and disease fields, alphabetizing chemical lists on base names of chemicals (without prefixes), and improvements in the user interface for both the computer and mobile devices.

On November 2019, Dr. Jay Brown completed the review of the first 1250 chemicals entered into the database. Review of the second 1250 chemicals added was started on March 5. He is busy checking spelling, hyperlinks, IARC classifications, TLVs, IDLHs, vapor pressures, and disease links.

If you have been a previous user of Haz-Map, I encourage you to view the new website and bookmark this new location in your Internet browser application.


Cancer risk among career firefighters are at increased risk for five cancers with typically stronger associations in those diagnosed younger than the age of 50

Conclusion
Male career firefighters in Florida are at increased risk for five cancers with typically stronger associations in those diagnosed younger than the age of 50, while there was evidence for increased thyroid and brain cancer, and possibly melanoma risk in female firefighters. Larger cohorts with adequate female representation, along with the collection of well‐characterized exposure histories, are needed to more precisely examine cancer risk in this occupational group.

Full study at:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajim.23086

Good webinar from Duke about their massive program to decontaminate N95 filtering facepieces

Good webinar from Duke about their massive program to decontaminate N95 filtering facepieces viewed here;

https://vmw-oesoapps.duhs.duke.edu/N95Webinar/GMT20200331-190119_Duke-Healt_3840x2160.mp4

Apr 1, 2020

Mar 31, 2020

Free Resources for Pandemic Support form CCOHS

To support workplaces in protecting the health and well-being of their employees during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, CCOHS has made helpful resources, courses and PDF versions of guides available free of charge.  

Online Courses

Publications (PDF versions)

View the complete list of available resources, including fact sheets, podcasts and posters.

The Health and Safety Report, a free monthly newsletter produced by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), provides information, advice, and resources that help support a safe and healthy work environment and the total well being of workers.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supply Equivalents (from ECRI)

Of possible interest is the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supply Equivalents (xlsx): "Best matches for the three most popular exam gloves, disinfecting wipes, face shields, isolation gowns, IV solutions, N95 air purifying respirators, shoe covers, surgical masks, and universal transport medium based on key performance indicators (KPIs) and functional equivalence"

Spreadsheet:

I am but the messenger; I do not have the knowledge to critically evaluate this resource. But I hope it is of utility, thanks.

Also see:

Mar 29, 2020

EPA suspends enforcement of environmental laws amid coronavirus

(The Hill) "This EPA statement is essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules for the indefinite future. It tells companies across the country that they will not face enforcement even if they emit unlawful air and water pollution in violation of environmental laws, so long as they claim that those failures are in some way 'caused' by the virus pandemic. And it allows them an out on monitoring too, so we may never know how bad the violating pollution was," she wrote in a statement to The Hill.

The EPA has been under pressure from a number of industries, including the oil industry, to suspend enforcement of a number of environmental regulations due to the pandemic.

"EPA is committed to protecting human health and the environment, but recognizes challenges resulting from efforts to protect workers and the public from COVID-19 may directly impact the ability of regulated facilities to meet all federal regulatory requirements," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

Read on at:
https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/489753-epa-suspends-enforcement-of-environmental-laws-amid-coronavirus

Mar 27, 2020

Webinar COVID-19: Transportation Workers--Impact of Emergency Declarations and Other Occupational Health Issues

Topic
COVID-19: Transportation Workers--Impact of Emergency Declarations and Other Occupational Health Issues

Description
COVID-19 has affected many industries including transportation. Truck drivers and many other transportation workers have been identified as essential critical infrastructure workers during this pandemic. Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and others face unique challenges during normal operations, but during this crisis, many of their routine regulatory, health and safety, and lifestyle challenges have become more complicated. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) have issued several emergency declarations and guidance documents including those affecting CMV medical examinations and drug and alcohol testing.

During this webinar, Dr. Natalie Hartenbaum, co-chair of ACOEM's Transportation Section, will discuss the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic by those in the transportation industry with a focus on truck drivers. She will review pertinent regulatory relief and other guidance provided by DOT or the transportation agencies which relate to the occupational health professional. This webinar is brought to you with support from the ACOEM Transportation Section.

Speaker:
Natalie P. Hartenbaum, MD, MPH, FACOEM
President and Chief Medical Officer of OccuMedix
Dresher, PA
Time

Mar 30, 2020 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Full info:

Mar 25, 2020

Webinar COVID-19: Protecting Health Care Workers --Decontamination & Reuse of Respirators

Friday, March 27, 2020, at 12:00 PM EDT

1.5 hour webinar with live Q&A

Occupational health care providers in the United States (U.S.) are currently addressing emergency protocols for protecting health care workers (HCWs) from COVID-19. However, there are many unanswered questions related to protecting HCWs especially with the limited supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 respirators.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) should release guidance documents this week on decontamination of FFRs, elastomeric respirators, PAPRs, and covering a respirator with a surgical mask.

In this webinar, the speakers will review the NIOSH/CDC guidance followed by a discussion of studies on and systems for the decontamination of N95s. The presentations will be followed by live, moderated Q&A.

Moderator:
David Rempel, MD, FACOEM, Professor Emeritus, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

Speakers:
CDC/NIOSH Guidance on Decontamination of FFR and Elastomeric Respirators:
TBD, National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL), CDC/NIOSH

Review of Studies on the Decontamination of N95 Respirators:
Lisa Brosseau, ScD, CIH, Professor Emeritus, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Illinois, Chicago

Update on University of Nebraska Medical Center Decontamination System Using UV-C:
Shawn G. Gibbs, PhD, MBA, CIH, Professor of Environmental Health, Indiana University School of Public Health

Reusable Elastomeric Respirators: University of Maryland Experience and Scientific Update:
Stella Hines, MD, MSPH, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, University of Maryland

The Webinar will be recorded. The recording and slides will be emailed to all registrants following the presentation.

Register here

Mar 24, 2020

Health care workers need protection during pandemic: NUPGE and HSABC release new research showing higher precautions recommended

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and Health Sciences Association of BC (HSA) released today a research paper focused on respiratory protection for health workers caring for COVID-19 patients.

"Health care workers around the world are reporting that personal protective equipment guidelines are inconsistent and in short supply. As this pandemic hits our health care system in Canada, the priority must be to keep our health care workers healthy so they can provide the care patients need," said NUPGE President Larry Brown.

"HSA contacted Dr. John Murphy, an expert on occupational hygiene and adjunct professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, for science-based guidance on the best measures for infection control among health care workers. His research confirms that the best practice is to use N95 respiratory protection. This supports the position of other national health care unions in Canada, and the joint advice to members from unions across Canada," Brown said. See March 13, 2020 Joint Statement

"HSA represents more than 15,000 health science professionals working in our hospitals, including the respiratory therapists responsible for keeping patients in respiratory distress alive and the diagnostic technologists conducting the scans, x-rays, and other critical tests needed to diagnose hospitalized patients. When working with COVID-19 patients, a surgical mask is simply not the best practice for infection control. It is important our members know that and make sound decisions about how to best protect themselves while providing care," said HSA President Val Avery.

Recognizing the world-wide shortage of personal protective equipment, Dr. Murphy recommends that properly fit-tested N95 masks be prioritized for allocation based on assessment of the extent of potential exposure and risk, and that surgical masks be used as a back up. In all cases, eye protection must accompany respiratory protection.

Link:  Respiratory Protection for Health Workers Caring for COVID-19 Patients (Murphy 2020)
Link:  Advisory Report for the Health Sciences Associat ion of Br i t ish Columbia and the Nat ional Union of Public and General Employees on Respiratory Protection Dur ing Care of Influenza Patients (Murphy 2009)