Are You Testing for COVID?

Executive Summary (TL;DR)
When testing for COVID, know your lab and who provides the tests.

Free Webinar Wednesday September 16th at 11:30AM
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Not all lab instruments are created equal. Most diagnostic manufacturers use biotin streptavidin as their binding agent in their testing process. While Biotin is extremely beneficial in cellular health and popularized as the “Beauty Vitamin” by some of Hollywood biggest superstars, its prevalence as dietary supplement, can cause false positive and false negative results. Biotin interference became a problem following a death due to inaccurate lab results. Since then the FDA has issued multiple warnings of potentially inaccurate results. “The FDA is aware of people taking high levels of biotin that would interfere with lab tests.” (https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/safety-communications/fda-warns-biotin-may-interfere-lab-tests-fda-safety-communication) None of Abbott’s platforms are impacted by biotin interference; making Abbott the world’s leader in 6 sigma tests.

Testing for COVID

RNA – RNA is a quick 5-minute test that tells you if you currently have an active case of COVID-19.

IgM – The IgM test, when positive, indicates that the person is still infectious but may not be exhibiting signs or symptoms.

IgG – The IgG test results indicate whether the person has antibodies meaning that at some point prior they had COVID-19.

testing lab

These tests, when taken together, can help a business make smarter decisions about their return to work policy. For example, if a person tests positive in both the IgM and IgG tests, that is a fair indication that they are nearing the end of their infections stage and actively developing antibodies. What this means for the company is that the employee could potentially return to work in just a few days as opposed to the standard two weeks or 14 days. This helps with business continuity and increases employee confidence in their company’s ability to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

Have a Plan

Having a complete proactive COVID testing protocol in place is the best way to assure the health of your employees by capturing the data and stopping the spread of the virus by those asymptomatic individuals. Additionally, having a full circle COVID plan will strategically optimize productivity while minimizing your overall liability.

Partnering with Safe-T-Works, Inc. to Offer DOT Compliance

To better serve our clients Life and Safety has partnered with Safe-T-Works, Inc.

Safe-T-Works, Inc. (STW) located in Asheboro, NC provides full service DOT, non-mandated drug and alcohol testing, and DOT training. We meet or exceed Department of Transportation regulations as well as non-DOT concerns at the local, state, and national levels.

Safe-T-Works - DOT Compliance Specialists

Safe-T-Works provides a comprehensive set of drug detection, workplace protection, and employee training services. Our primary objective is to help our clients achieve a safe, drug-free workplace—and to do so better and more cost-effectively than any other company in our field.

STW specializes in on-site testing, training programs, and DOT compliance services for our clients as well as personalized client contact, confidential clients record maintenance and storage; and 24/7 availability. STW has been in business for over 12 years. The staff has over 45 years combined experience in the industry including education and training. All staff members are certified annually and the company is accredited annually by the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA). We also have certified and knowledgeable trainers on staff who can assist you with anything from policy development to supervisor and employee training programs. Other services available include Designated Employer Representative, Supervisor, and Driver training and certification programs, Respirator Fit Testing, Medical Review Officer services, DOT and employment physicals, DNA testing for paternity, DOT compliance services, Fleet Maintenance, and a wide variety of specialized programs and testing. Safe-T-Works is a 100% woman-owned business. It is also NC HUB, WBE, SBE, DBE certified, and Nationally Accredited for Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs.

For more information about Safe-T-Works and the services they offer, visit their website at https://www.safetworksinc.com/.

Are you required to wear a respirator?

SUMMARY

If wearing a respirator is required by your company then the 9 elements of the respiratory protection program must be followed including medical evaluation, training, and fit testing (http://lifeandsafety.com/enroll/#!/Respiratory-Protection/c/38135012/offset=0&sort=nameAsc). If you are voluntarily wearing respiratory protection you must be provided with the information in Appendix D.

FULL ARTICLE

There are many factors that affect whether you are required by OSHA to wear a respirator while working. Determining if it is required is the obligation of your employer. If it is required, then it is the employer’s responsibility to develop a respiratory protection program. “The requirements applicable to construction work under this section are identical to those set forth [for general industry] at 29 CFR 1910.134 of this chapter.” (https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1926/1926.103)

1910 (General Industry): https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.134

1926 (Construction): https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1926/1926.103

1910.134(c)(1):
In any workplace where respirators are necessary to protect the health of the employee or whenever respirators are required by the employer, the employer shall establish and implement a written respiratory protection program with worksite-specific procedures.” There are 9 OSHA required elements of this program:

  1. Procedures for selecting respirators for use in the workplace
  2. Medical evaluations of employees required to use respirators
  3. Fit testing procedures for tight-fitting respirators
  4. Procedures for proper use of respirators in routine and reasonably foreseeable emergency situations
  5. Procedures and schedules for cleaning, disinfecting, storing, inspecting, repairing, discarding, and otherwise maintaining respirators
  6. Procedures to ensure adequate air quality, quantity, and flow of breathing air for atmosphere-supplying respirators
  7. Training of employees in the respiratory hazards to which they are potentially exposed during routine and emergency situations
  8. Training of employees in the proper use of respirators, including putting on and removing them, any limitations on their use, and their maintenance
  9. Procedures for regularly evaluating the effectiveness of the program

1910.134(c)(2)(i):
“An employer may provide respirators at the request of employees or permit employees to use their own respirators, if the employer determines that such respirator use will not in itself create a hazard. If the employer determines that any voluntary respirator use is permissible, the employer shall provide the respirator users with the information contained in Appendix D to this section (“Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard”).”

Appendix D to Sec. 1910.134 (Mandatory) Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.134AppD

If you have questions or would like assistance in creating and implementing any element of your respiratory protection program please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone (864.297.4521) or email (info@lifeandsafety.com).

Both the medical evaluation and respiratory protection training can be completed online. More information can be found here: http://lifeandsafety.com/enroll/#!/Respiratory-Protection/c/38135012/offset=0&sort=nameAsc

Active Shooter Awareness

Recognize. Respond. Survive. Is your organization truly prepared for an active shooter?

Life and Safety is proud to announce our partnership with ProActive Response Group to deliver active shooter awareness, medical, and post-incident response training.

ProActive Response Group’s leadership team are well-trained veteran SWAT team leaders, with first-hand experience in hostage rescues and high-risk dignitary protection. The skills offered in each course have been specifically developed to provide individuals and groups with effective courses of action in actual critical situations.

Today many organizations just “check the box” when providing active shooter/workplace violence training for their employees. With the rise of active shooter events across the country the cost of inadequate training will be devastating.

Topics discussed:

  • how to take a ProActive approach to preventing attacks by being situationally aware
  • simple response options that will empower employees and build confidence
  • how to use basic medical skills and equipment to save victims of the attack
  • the importance of developing business continuity plans that include active shooter events

ProActive Training Bundle

ProActive’s Active Shooter Response Training curriculum teaches preparedness and empowerment to corporate teams. Through the course of these eye-opening and instructional videos paired with online quizzes, your employees will learn to develop a plan of action should an active shooter walk into your office.

This course is normally $24.99 but is available to you for 50% off with code STAYPROACTIVE

Your training will include:
Pre-Incident Awareness and Threat Recognition
Responding to A Threat
Life-Saving Medical Training
Interaction with First Responders and the Aftermath

As an added bonus when you purchase the ProActive training you’ll also receive complimentary access to our “COVID-19 and Other Contagious Illnesses” video based training.

To sign up for the ProActive training bundle go to the following link to create an account and login:
https://compassrms.com/login/304/ProActiveTraining.aspx

Once you create an account and login, go to the “Catalog” tab at the top of the screen to select and purchase the ProActive Training Bundle. Use code STAYPROACTIVE to received 50% off.

COVID-19: What To Expect When You Return To Work

With people returning to work both employees and employers want to know what to expect when they walk into their workplace and how COVID-19 has change our work environment. 

COVID-19 Illustration
COVID-19
  • What new safety measures are in place to protect employees and the general public? 
  • What policies have been created or updated to better protect employees from infection? 
  • What are the responsibilities of the employee and the employer? 
  • How can we return to work with confidence? 

These are just a few of the questions that will be answered during this webinar.

The first portion of this webinar is a presentation just as we did in the last webinar. However, based on your suggestions, we added a question and answer section at the end.

What We’ve Learned About COVID-19

Over the last month we’ve seen a lot of changes take place in how we conduct business. From interfacing with the public to working from home, the face and features of our workplace have been drastically altered. Keeping up with the continually updating information, recommendations, and speculation that we receive daily has been overwhelming and can be more than a little confusing.

Our safety consultants, TC Gore and Joe Woodman, have been working diligently with clients to help them respond to current needs and prepare for what comes next. They’ve done this by taking their extensive medical and bio-hazard experience that they both have and coupling that with constant attention to the ever changing data coming from the CDC, OSHA, and other agencies and digesting all that information into meaningful and actionable next steps.

On Wednesday April 1st we hosted a a quick lunch and learn during which TC and Joe discussed what they’re doing to help business react and prepare for what comes next.

Coronavirus or COVID-19

If you’ve seen the news or even just been outside over the last couple months you’ve hear something about the coronavirus or COVID-19.

coronavirus image

There are now cases being reported in the United States making education and preparedness extremely important.

The CDC is always a great source of information and they currently have a section of their website dedicated to COVID-19 found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/

qr code to access coronavirus pdf

We’ve read over the information on the CDC website and have compiled the basics of of the virus’s spread, symptoms, and prevention.

The information below is also available for download as a PDF or scan this QR code to access the same file with your smart phone.

How the Virus is Spread

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
  • Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • Contact with infected surfaces or objects (this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads)

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).

Symptoms of Coronavirus

For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

Prevention

face mask

Recommended everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

The Most Amazing Thing

By Joe Woodman

How many of us have seen this phrase online or heard it pitched on television?  The most amazing (insert here)! 

The Most Amazing Thing

Sorry.  This is not about that.  That hype is designed to make you look or to make you click.  I am going to get you to think and to feel. 

I am talking about how it feels to help save a life.  How it really feels.  I’d venture to guess no one has explained it to you the way I will.  It’s the highest of highs and a chance to truly give the gift of life. 

Allow me to present this to you in stages, because potential life-ending events happen that way. 

The first feeling you get is a gradual awareness that something is wrong.  Perhaps suspicion that the man across the restaurant from you suddenly looks panicked and may be choking.  Or the awareness might hit you like a ton of bricks as you see a car drift off the road ahead of you and crash into some trees.   

After the awareness hits, fear and uncertainty climb all over you.  Should I do something?  Can I do anything?  Am I good enough?  Somebody else will step up.  I’m scared!  Your adrenalin spikes, your heart rate jumps, and your brain kicks into high gear, and you suddenly find yourself rising to act. 

What happens next is going to involve a mix of chance, luck, training, knowledge, determination, and courage.  It would be a terrible thing to discover at this moment, as you come face to face with someone who needs you more than anyone has needed you before, that you have nothing to offer.  It would be a tragedy to be right there with the opportunity to do something but instead just stand there. 

You will experience all this if you find yourself in this position.  Don’t you want to be ready?  What if it is not a stranger but instead it is your child or spouse or a friend?  What if YOU are the only option? 

How the next stage feels is really up to you.  If you are ready and you are trained and knowledgeable, you will find yourself shifting from fear and uncertainty into purposeful intention and action.  Time compresses as you concentrate all your awareness and abilities and rise to the occasion.  Your hands know what to do.  Your actions make a difference.  Your control and influence on the scene make it safer as you act, delegate, instruct, and think about what to do next. 

If you are not ready things will be drastically different.  Instead of time speeding up, time will slow.  Help may eventually come but it seems to take forever.  Your initial fear has shifted into a realization of helplessness and an inability to contribute.  You want to help but you just can’t.  You’ve got nothing. 

The final stage is the resolution of the event.  Again, in a life and death situation, the resolution may depend greatly on what actions you took.  Maybe the Heimlich Maneuver worked, and the diner can breathe again so everybody goes back to what they were doing.  Maybe your quick actions to stop and help the accident victim kept them safe and alive until emergency responders arrived.  Maybe the fact that you stepped up and started high quality CPR right away when the elderly woman in line in front of you at the pharmacy collapsed gave her heart a chance to restart so she can see her family again. 

Or perhaps you didn’t or couldn’t act and you had to watch and do nothing.  In all fairness, there are times NOT to act, and it is true that not everyone is able or willing to be the one that does something in these situations.  But right now, I am talking to you; the one who wants to be ready.  The one who wants to be prepared and able to choose whether to act when presented with the opportunity. 

As a retired paramedic, I’ve experienced this spectrum of feelings many times.  The highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  But to get the opportunity to help others when they needed it most gave me the best career ever.  I know what I did made a difference, sometimes even saving a life.   

I don’t consider myself a hero.  I can’t fly, I am not bullet proof, and I don’t think I have ever saved a life single-handedly.  I was always part of a team.  That team included all the folks who provided training, radio communication, call-takers on 911, law enforcement, firefighters, hospital staff, and even bystanders and family members.  I am proud to say that by my retirement, the Cardiac Arrest Save award I wore on my uniform had the number 7 on it.  That means, since 2011, I worked on 7 people who were in cardiac arrest, actually dead, who were resuscitated and who survived to be discharged from the hospital and returned home due to our efforts. 

What made it possible for those people to survive?  Training, a systems approach to handling emergencies, coordination, and a whole lot of hard work.  The bottom line though is it took people stepping up to act and to do their part in the system.  That’s what makes it work. 

The most amazing thing ever encompasses a lot of things.  In this case, it means shaking the hand of a man who tearfully looks into your eyes and says, “Thank you for saving my life.  I want to introduce you to my wife and daughter.”  It means waving to the family as they leave the restaurant after the choking incident, laughing as they cross the parking lot headed to their car.  It means watching the ambulance pull away and seeing the patient through the back window as he talks to the medics knowing that you are the reason he is talking right now. 

First Aid, AED, and CPR Training
First Aid Training

Please take the time to put yourself into the position to see and experience the most amazing thing ever.  First aid, AED, CPR training is available everywhere and is very affordable, in some cases free.  Set yourself up to be the one who knows what to do.  The one that can act and make a difference far sooner than any ambulance or fire truck can arrive.  Almost all of the cardiac arrest saves I participated in involved early CPR by a family member or trained civilian.  I have even seen children and teens doing excellent CPR on my arrival. 

But more importantly, set yourself up to be The Most Amazing Thing for someone in distress.  There are few things that can top that. 

Joe 

For more information about our instructor led training please visit our enrollment page [http://lifeandsafety.com/enroll/] or call 864.297.4521.

Safety Management Tools

By Nathan Bennett

Life and Safety Management Tools

In October of 2011 I started with Life and Safety and now, 8 years later, have seen our online services grow from a small OSHA 10 and 30 reseller service to a department that develops custom online training solutions for employee and contractor orientation as well as site and task specific training.

Inspections, Audits, Observations, and Assessments

Life and Safety creates custom training solutions for our clients and over the past 5 years we’ve built digital inspection solutions that allow operators and inspectors to complete their checklists on a smart device while in the field. There’s no need to carry a clipboard, complete paper forms, carry it back to the office, review the findings, forward for remediation, or file for retention. Everything is digital and stored in a database with immediate notification of deficiencies and the opportunity to respond effectively and efficiently to trouble areas while at the same time incentivizing positive behaviors such as completing inspections, audits, observations, and assessments.

contractor transcript safety management tools

Training Transcript Management

The newest tool we’ve added is the ability to access contractor training records immediately from anywhere. Instead of relying on wallet cards or word of mouth the contractor has a scannable code on their ID badge, hardhat, or something equally as accessible. The safety person can then scan that code and access all their training while verifying that they are trained to do their job tasks.

On the Horizon

We are continuously improving our online tools and processes with a few projects currently under development. The most exciting new tool we’re working on is an ISO certification process management tool. With it you’ll be able to manage your documentation and access it easily much in the same way that our contractor transcript tool works. More details about this new tool will become available after the first of the year.

Thank you to all our clients who have and continue to help us test and build these tools for safety.

The Business of Risk

By T.C. Gore

I love motorcycles. I love motorcycles and riding motorcycles A LOT! I love everything about them. Any motorcycle. Alta, BSA, BMW, Beta, Harley, Honda, KTM, Husky, Indian, Triumph, Suzuki, Vespa, Yamaha, dirt or street, big or small, loud or quiet the flavor doesn’t matter to me; they are all awesome. This love affair started when I was a child and has only deepened as I have grown older. Many years ago, I started riding off road in a type of motorcycling called Enduro. Enduro would best be described as really long trail hiking, but on a motorcycle. It marries two of my greatest joys; motorcycles and nature. Eventually, I discovered this thing called Hard Enduro. Hard Enduro is just like regular Enduro, still really long hikes on the back of a motorcycle, but the trails are really, really hard. Like dangerously hard. Hard to the level that if you make a mistake while riding them it is very likely you are going to at least get hurt. Possibly die. Imagine riding a motorcycle along a cliff edge with the trail in front of you only being about six inches wide. Or riding on terrain that mountain goats would give a second thought too, all the while being miles away from anything that could be considered civilization; in the back country of our great nation. That’s Hard Enduro and it is my passion. The reward for what many would call pure suffering and stupidity is simply the things you get to see. There are so many places of wonder and beauty in our country that are so far away from anything, very few will ever get to see them. For me, a motorcycle is how I choose to get to those places, though still with a considerable amount of effort. So, you may be asking yourself, “what this has to do with safety and why on earth would a safety professional do such a thing?” Safety professionals are the Nervous Nellies that walk around wearing safety vests writing things down on clip boards who are afraid of anything that might even be remotely risky, right? Not necessarily.

LEFT: Beta 390 RR Race Edition
RIGHT: Husaburg 300

In late summer each year for the past several years, I have made a pilgrimage to the Western United States to meet up with my best friend and take off into the wilderness to do several days of ridiculously hard motorcycle riding. I recently returned from such a trip out to the Teanaway National Forest in Washington State where there are some of the best Hard Enduro trails in the country. Obviously, this is quite a long drive from Greenville, South Carolina and I had plenty of alone time driving home to think about what really makes it possible to do such things safely and still have fun. Here is where the safety part comes in. I determined that the top four things that allow me to participate at this level of foolishness and to still be safe are Planning, Training, Experience and Equipment. Sound familiar? Turns out the same things that allow me to do stupid human tricks on a motorcycle (and return to talk about it) are the same things that help keep us safe on the job. Now, I am under no illusion that I am perfect, and I am not this beast of a motorcycle rider that goes out and wins races or anything like that. As a matter of fact, I don’t race. Never have, never will. I consider myself to be an average rider who just has an above average love for the machines and the beauty of nature. But, where I do excel, is in my dedication to mitigating risk. Just because there is risk doesn’t mean that something can’t be made as safe as possible by eliminating or mitigating that risk while still remembering to be prepared for something to still go wrong.

First step is Planning. For months I pour over trail maps, trail description write ups, US Forest Service topographical maps, Google Earth, anything I can get my hands on that can give me the best possible picture of where I am going. I determine in advance, how I’m going to get there, and what hazards I will, or could, encounter along the way. This is not unlike a Job Safety Analysis where we look at the task at hand and its environment to identify potential hazards and develop plans to eliminate or avoid those hazards. If the time is taken to look closely at a task and make a concerted effort to control the hazards, there isn’t much left over that could surprise us. But, should those unplanned situations occur, a proper JSA will require a timeout and reevaluation of the situation to solve the newfound hazard. We then can approach the situation with these new hazards eliminated or mitigated.      

Second is Training. Whether it is reading, learning wilderness survival skills, physical fitness training, learning how to take care of basic mechanical problems on the motorcycle, training and education provides mental tools to handle the unexpected problems which will inevitably show themselves at the worst possible time. Our safety training serves that same purpose. If you think back it is certain that there has been at least one time when you recognized a safety concern or issue because of something you heard in safety training. Maybe it was a large safety issue that others had overlooked, and your specialized training allowed you to see the hazard. Or maybe is was something as simple as moving a trashcan out of a walkway so that someone wouldn’t trip over it. Chances are, you can attribute your actions to something you leaned in safety training.

Experience. Getting out and riding my motorcycle in as many different types of terrain and as often as I can allows me to feel out situations and the machine in a controlled manner and then reflect when things didn’t go well to try and find a better way. Without the time in the environment, the knowledge isn’t there to be able to determine what right looks like. Experience in part teaches us this. Not only my personal experience, but also that of my riding buddy. My buddy is pilot for a major airline with many thousands of hours flying everything from paragliders to the Boing 737 that he currently flies. As a commercial pilot, his perspective on preparation and planning for hazards is unique as a result of the environment of safety that he must work in constantly. This experience transfers over easily and is an addition to his experience riding Hard Enduro. On the job our own experiences help keep us safe. They allow us to see potential problems in situations that resemble something we have seen go wrong before. Our co-workers and supervisors’ experiences also help keep us safe as their perspective is different than ours and they might see something that we otherwise would not. All that is required is for us to have an open communication environment where we can speak from our experiences and not to let someone do something that we know is hazardous.  

Finally, is Equipment. I will not go out into the backcountry, or ride at all, unless I know that all my gear is 100%. From the mechanical state of the motorcycle to my personal protective equipment, everything must be functioning at 100% or I do not go. As a safety professional I understand that my equipment, or PPE, is the last line of defense if all the planning, training, and experience fail. In a world of open energy systems, there is absolutely no way that every factor can be foreseen or planned for. If my motorcycle breaks down because of a maintenance item I neglected or if I fall off my bike and suffer an injury with uncontrollable bleeding and I am 100 miles away from a paved road in grizzly territory or in the high mountains where there can be blizzards in the middle of July; not having the right equipment is much more than an inconvenience. Though it may not seem that our working environment is as extreme, not having the proper 100% functioning PPE or equipment can have just as potentially catastrophic results. Was the per-use inspection on our equipment done? Did we follow proper lockout, tagout procedures? Did we make sure that our gear was 100% before we started working so that we can be relatively certain that our equipment is going to function correctly?

When you approach your next workday, think about all the systems that are playing a part in keeping you and your co-workers safe. See if you can identify the Planning, Training, Experience and Equipment components of the safety system in your environment. Think about the role you play in those systems. You may gain a whole new perspective on why that guy with the safety vest seems so nervous.                   

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