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The winter months are upon us, and what that means is colder weather, maybe some snow and ice and the flu. Between 5-20 percent of Americans catch the flu annually, and it is estimated that 70 million workdays are missed every year as a result, costing employers between $3 billion and $12 billion per year.

The flu season usually runs from December to March, and CDC data from 1982 through 2016 shows the flu peaked in February for 14 of those seasons and in December for seven of them, and a for the rest of the years, it was between March and January. That means the flu season lasts one-third of every year, so what can you do to protect yourself and help reduce the spread of the seasonal flu in workplaces? Here are few recommendations by CDC:

1. Get the flu vaccine every year, especially if you are considered increased risk
Although the flu vaccine’s effectiveness varies from year to year, it has been proven to keep you from getting the flu, makes the flu less severe if you do get it, and keeps you from spreading the flu to your co-workers, family and others. Those usually considered high risk are the elderly, pregnant women, small children, persons with certain medical conditions (i.e. asthma, lung disease, heart disease, etc.).

2. Stay at home if you are sick
If you have a fever and respiratory symptoms, please stay home until 24 hours after your fever ends without the use of medications. But realize too that not everyone who has the flu will have a fever. Other symptoms may include runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea or vomiting.

3. Use basic hygiene to stop the spread of germs and viruses
Basic hygiene includes all the things our parents and kindergarten teachers stressed! Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds (sing the happy birthday song, if you aren’t sure just how long 20 seconds is), and if there is no soap and water available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizing rub. Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes, and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve(s). After your sneezes and coughs, wash those hands!

4. Wipe down common work areas with a disinfectant
Any work area that is frequently touched, including telephones, computer equipment, copiers, etc, should be cleaned with a disinfectant regularly. Refrain from using coworkers’ desks, phones, computers or other work equipment, and if you must use them, consider cleaning it first with a disinfectant.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers provide working conditions that are free from known dangers, including sicknesses such as the flu. All employers should implement a program that combines the above recommendations to protect workers and reduce the transmission of the seasonal flu virus in the workplace. Need help establishing such a program at your workplace? Workplace Safety & Health, Inc. is just a phone call away – 317-253-9737.

Tagged in: CDC

A CDC study on occupational asthma deaths in the United States finds an estimated 3,664 to 6,994, or approximately 204 to 389 annually from 1999 to 2016, that could be attributable to occupational exposures and were therefore potentially preventable. Published Jan. 19 in MMWR, the study indicates the highest asthma death rates were among adults ages 55–64 and that asthma mortality was significantly elevated among men in food, beverage, and tobacco products manufacturing, other retail trade, and miscellaneous manufacturing, and among women in social assistance.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6702a2.htm?s_cid=mm6702a2_e#contribAff

Tagged in: asthma deaths CDC

CDC has deactivated its emergency response for the Zika virus and will resume normal program operations. A team of experts from across the agency, called the Zika Coordination and Operations Transition Team (ZCOTT), will lead the transition from EOC activation to routine, long-term activities and will ensure timely coordination and collaboration on scientific, communication, and policy activities.

The agency activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on January 22, 2016 in response to the devastating effects of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0929-eoc-deactivation-zika.html

 

 

 

Tagged in: CDC zika virus

A new survey from the CDC found that one in four U.S. adults who believe their hearing is good or excellent may have hearing damage. Much of this damage, according to the study, results from loud sounds that occur every day at home.

The study found that 20 percent of people who reported no job-related noise exposure had hearing damage in a pattern caused by noise. This damage appeared as early as the age of 20.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0207-hearing-loss.html

Tagged in: CDC hearing loss

Nearly half of all adult asthma cases – 48 percent – might be related to work – and therefore could be preventable. That’s according to a study published in December in the CDC’s MMWR, which found that as many as 2.7 million U.S. workers might have asthma caused by or exacerbated by workplace conditions.

The study used data from the 2006–2007 adult Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Asthma Call-back Survey (ACBS) to quantify potential occupationally-associated asthma cases and to identify the workers most at risk, by industry and state. Among the five occupations with the highest current asthma prevalence, office and administrative support was identified in 16 of the 21 states, health care practitioners and technical in 15 states, and sales and related in 13 states.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6547a1.htm?s_cid=mm6547a1_w

 

Tagged in: CDC MMWR

Pneumoconiosis among coal workers, also commonly known as “black lung disease,” has resurfaced in the U.S. in “alarming” numbers, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The disabling, often fatal occupational disease is caused by overexposure to respirable coal mine dust.

A report in a recent CDC MMWR bulletin describes a cluster of 60 cases of PMF identified in current and former coal miners at a single eastern Kentucky radiology practice from January 2015 through August 2016. This cluster was not found through the national surveillance program. That’s something the report’s authors say makes an argument for improved surveillance to promptly identify the early stages of the disease and halt its progression to PMF.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6549a1.htm?s_cid=mm6549a1_w

Tagged in: CDC NIOSH

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control recommends states and communities support cancer prevention, education, screening, quality of care, support for cancer survivors, and good health for all, as well as fund comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programs at levels the organization recommends.

In its Vital Signs publication for November, the CDC focused on cancers related to tobacco use. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of cancer and cancer deaths, causing at least 12 types of cancer throughout the body, the report states.

Read entire article - http://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/tobacco/cancer-and-tobacco/dpk-vs-cancer-and-tobacco.html

 

Tagged in: CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued interim guidance for workers possibly exposed to Zika virus, such as outdoor workers/employers, healthcare and laboratory workers, mosquito control workers and business travelers. Some of the recommendations are listed below:

-(for employers) Provide insect repellants containing EPA-registered active ingredients and encourage their use, provide workers with clothing that covers exposed skin.

-Get rid of standing water (i.e. bottles) when possible to eliminate areas where mosquitoes can lay eggs, perform hand hygiene before and after contact with infectious material.

-Workers performing tasks related to mosquito control may need additional protection.

Read entire article - http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/s0422-interim-guidance-zika.html

Tagged in: CDC zika virus

NIOSH has published a new recommendation that says attaching a regular shop vacuum to a dust-collecting circular saw can provide a low-cost solution in order to reduce exposure to hazardous dust produced when construction workers cut fiber-cement siding.

According to a press release, the research that led to this finding was conducted in two phases. In one, researchers looked at three dust-collecting circular saws connected to an external vacuum in a laboratory setting. Further studies were conducted at construction sites where workers were cutting fiber-cement siding. Results of the field studies showed that a regular shop vacuum controlled the amount of silica-containing dust in the air to well below the NIOSH-recommended exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica.

Read entire article - http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-06-18-15.html

Tagged in: CDC NIOSH

The National Fire Protection Association is seeking comments on a Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) to NFPA 1999. Standard on Protective Clothing for Emergency Medical Operations. According to a press release, this TIA follows work conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and other organizations and federal agencies that recognized the need for a national standard on personal protective equipment to protect emergency first responders from exposure to liquid-borne pathogens.

Read entire article - http://www.nfpa.org/press-room/news-releases/2014/nfpa-seeks-comments-to-help-protect-first-responders-from-ebola-virus

Most workers in the United States are not likely to be exposed to the Ebola, or to come in contact with someone who has contracted Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF). Even so, employers in a broad range of industries are understandably concerned about protecting their employees from the virus.

Healthcare workers obviously are more likely to be at risk of coming in contact with virus than those of other fields. However, those who work in medical laboratory testing or death care are also at risk. So too are those who work in the travel industry, from airline service personnel to border and custom workers to emergency responders. In fact, anyone who works with equipment arriving into the United States from countries with outbreaks of EHF stands an elevated risk of being exposed to the virus.

OSHA has said that precautionary measures for preventing exposure to the Ebola virus depend on the nature of the work, potential for Ebola-virus contamination of the work environment, and what is known about other potential exposure hazards. In some instances, infection control strategies may have to be modified to include additional personal protective equipment (PPE), administrative controls, and/or safe work practices. OSHA has also developed interim guidance to help prevent worker exposure to Ebola virus and individuals with EHF.

According to OSHA, several existing standards apply in keeping employees who may come in contact with the Ebola virus safe.

Because it is a contact-transmissible disease, Ebola virus exposure is covered by OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard (1910.1030). And because workers could be exposed to bioaerosols containing Ebola virus, employers must also follow OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard (1910.134). OSHA has said that employers should follow recognized and generally accepted good infection control practices, and must meet applicable requirements in the Personal Protective Equipment standard (29 CFR 1910.132, general requirements), as well.

The following are OSHA’s requirements and recommendations for protecting workers whose work activities are conducted in an environment that is known or reasonably suspected to be contaminated with Ebola virus (such as due to contamination with blood or other potentially infectious material). (These general guidelines are not intended to cover workers who have direct contact with individuals with EHF, however).

•Use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and good hand hygiene protocols to avoid exposure to infected blood and body fluids, contaminated objects, or other contaminated environmental surfaces.
•Wear gloves, wash hands with soap and water after removing gloves, and discard used gloves in properly labeled waste containers.
•Workers who may be splashed, sprayed, or spattered with blood or body fluids from environmental surfaces where Ebola virus contamination is possible must wear face and eye protection, such as a full-face shield or surgical masks with goggles. Aprons or other fluid-resistant protective clothing must also be worn in these situations to prevent the worker's clothes from being soiled with infectious material.

Both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide additional guidance and recommendations for preventing worker exposure to Ebola, for both healthcare workers and others at increased risk of exposure.

Tagged in: CDC ebola NIOSH

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a report on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's review of 20 heat-related enforcement cases from 2012 to 2013. OSHA's analysis suggests that the primary risk factor for heat fatalities is the lack of acclimatization programs.

Of the 13 enforcement cases involving worker fatalities, nine of the deaths occurred in the first three days of working on the job, while four of them occurred on the worker's first day. In all cases, heat illness prevention programs were found to be incomplete or absent and no provision was made for acclimatizing new workers to the heat.

Read entire article: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26502

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