Another word on infectious diseases (COVID)
Tired of hearing about COVID? At least transmission levels in most of Minnesota are currently very low. But BA-2, a subvariant of Omicron, has been gaining traction – it now comprises almost 75% of the SARS-CoV2 (the infectious agent that causes COVID-19) found in wastewater samples. We don’t know if this is going to cause another surge. What we have learned over the past two years: COVID is transmitted primarily by breathing in viral particles. Your risk of contracting it is higher when more virus is in the air.
The right masks (N95, KN95) are effective when worn correctly, because they can block you from putting the virus in the air and block you from breathing in the virus. But we are tired of wearing masks. We want to see people’s faces in person, not on a screen.
For decades, industrial hygienists (like Janet Keyes, our Certified Industrial Hygienist) have looked to ventilation to control respiratory hazards and improve indoor air quality. That knowledge applies to controlling the virus in air. We can reduce the spread of COVID within a building by bringing in more fresh air and, when we need to recirculate air, by improving air filtration.
Improved ventilation can help curb the spread of COVID. Changes made because of COVID can have long term benefits, in improving indoor air quality and reducing the spread of other infectious respiratory viruses.
Severe Weather Drills
April 7 was tornado drill day throughout Minnesota. It’s a good reminder that it’s time to review your emergency plan and procedures. Make sure they are current. Remind employees what to do in case of severe weather.
Things to remind employees:
- Tornado watch means conditions are right for a tornado to form.
- Tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted. You need to be in shelter.
- There is no “all-clear siren”. When you seek shelter from severe weather, have a plan to know when the severe weather passes. That may be monitoring a weather radio or using your smartphone. You may lose power in severe weather, so do not rely on a computer or TV that requires being plugged in.
For more information on weather safety and Tornado Drill Day: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/hsem/weather-awareness-preparedness/Pages/default.aspx
National Weather Service: https://www.weather.gov/safety/tornado. This also has links to lightning safety.
Another Word About Weather…
Heat is coming. It doesn’t feel like it now, with some snow still on the ground, but days are warming. The first few days of hot weather are the most dangerous – the time when employees are at most risk of heat stroke. Think now about how you’ll handle those hot days. Start the day earlier, when it’s cool? Get more fans? (Make sure they’re grounded.) Provide drinking stations? Get a portable air conditioner for the break room? Employees who keep their cool will be more productive.
Road Construction Season
It will be a busy road construction season in Minnesota. One of the most dangerous jobs for public works employees is working in, on, or alongside roadways. Too many drivers are on their phones or just not paying attention. Too many are creatures of habit, who don’t want to follow detours. Some are simply confused by cones and barrels.
According to a recent Minneapolis Star Tribune article, MnDOT found more drivers are speeding through work zones: “60% of drivers going between 61 and 75 mph and 13% of motorists driving 76 mph or faster, including several clocked at 100 mph or faster.” That puts the workers in these areas at great risk.
April 11-15, 2022 is National Work Zone Awareness Week. It is a good time to remind everyone: When there are workers on the road, give them extra room, slow down, and keep your phone down.
Frequently Cited Standard: Labels
What’s in that container? We often need to ask that when we do site inspections. Is it water? Or isopropyl alcohol? Or a strong acid? Don’t make anyone guess. All containers, even those containing water, need to be labeled with the product name. If it could be hazardous, add appropriate warnings.
The labels do not have to be complicated: the chemical name, hazard warning and pictograms. All of that information can be found on the Safety Data Sheet.
If you reuse the container, replace the old label with the correct one. And make sure the container is compatible with its contents.
Where to Find Us…
Janet Keyes, CIH, and Mary Dipping will be in Nashville, Tennessee May 23-25 attending the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce). AIHce is the “premier conference for occupational and environmental health and safety scientists.” Carol Keyes, CSP, will be in Chicago at the end of June for the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) annual professional development conference. We will all be looking for new products and new information to better assist our clients.