COIVD-19 Update: June 5, 2020

Amerisafe Group is launching this webpage as a resource to occupational health and safety professionals and others for daily updates on matters related to the occupational impacts of COVID-19. So that we can serve our internal and external customers, we regularly check various occupational health and safety (OSHA, NIOSH, CDC, WHO, etc.), and various government agency sources for current information. It includes relevant sources, any new Q&A we’ve had and other discussions. Keep current for daily updates below.

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Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf signed amended yellow phase orders to include 10 counties moving to the yellow phase at 12:01 a.m. today (June 5th). The counties include Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery and Philadelphia.

In addition, the governor and the secretary signed amended green phase orders to include 16 counties moving to the green phase at 12:01 a.m. today. The counties include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clinton, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Lycoming, Mercer, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.

Businesses with in-person operations must follow the building and business safety requirements.

VIEW WTAE MAP

PA.gov Statistics

June 5, 2020

As of 6/4/2020 there were 537 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 73,942. Yesterday, the state reported a total of 5,817 confirmed deaths in PA. There are 416,942 patients who have tested negative to date.The PA DOH map provides data on positive cases by county and by zip code.

FULL REPORT
PA: Q & A

June 1, 2020

The PA Department of Labor and Industry updated a few Q’s & A’s on their Frequently Asked Questions website. Below are a few Q’s & A’s:

Q: ​Does the construction guidance change for counties that have moved to the green reopening phase?

A: Yes, there are no limitations to the number of workers on residential and commercial job sites. Gatherings can now be up to 25 people in yellow counties and 250 in green counties. Social distancing should still be observed while gathering. Workers may travel to the job site together, as long as the occupancy of the vehicle is limited to half the occupancy load and face masks are worn by the occupants.

Q: What qualifies a pandemic safety officer, and what qualifications must the pandemic safety officer possess?

A: The pandemic safety officer is the individual designated by the business to provide information about how the employer is complying with all relevant orders and guidance. This individual should be familiar with all relevant orders and guidance and be able to provide workers on site with accurate, reliable guidance in this regard.

May 29, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed amended yellow phase orders to include eight counties moving to the yellow phase at 12:01 a.m. today, May 29. The counties include Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Lebanon, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike and Schuylkill.

May 28, 2020

Gov. Wolf provided an update on the state’s reopening process. The Wolf Administration worked with the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association to develop guidance on dining in both the yellow and green phases.

May 20, 2020

Gov. Wolf Vetoed House Bill 2388 and Senate Bill 327. House Bill 2388 would have allowed certain industries (which included manufacturing) to reopen. Senate Bill 327 would have authorized counties to develop and implement their own mitigation plans and decide when businesses within their county could reopen.

Statewide Return to Work Protocols

May 19, 2020

Gov. Wolf announced 12 additional Pennsylvania counties will move to the yellow phase of reopening at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 22. Those counties include Adams, Beaver, Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wayne, and York.

As we open America, employers can also expect to establish new health and safety protocols for the workplace such as mandatory health screenings and face coverings—that may remain in place for the foreseeable future. Reopening plans may include multiple mitigation steps, such as limits on occupancy, sanitation and physical distancing requirements, and new posting duties.

For criteria, phase guidelines and preparedness tips, visit Opening Up America. for additional reference.


PA House Representative Mike Turzai

May 15, 2020
The House was back in session (5/14/2020). Each of the proposed Bills listed below will go to Governor Wolf.

Senate Bill 327 would authorize county officials to development an emergency mitigation plan for business, in consultation with health and emergency management officials. The plan would have to be published on the county’s public website and would empower local governments to reopen their economies when it can be done so safely.

House Bill 2388 would require the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to issue a waiver to the business closure order for the following types of businesses, as long as those businesses comply with health and safety guidelines outlined by the state Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: vehicle dealerships, lawn and garden centers, cosmetology salon and barber shops for hair services, messenger services, animal grooming services, and manufacturing operations

PA House Representative Mike Turzai

May 7, 2020

Speaker Turzai released additional information on the COVID-19 related deaths that have occurred in PA. The full press release can be viewed here.

  • The average age of citizens that have passed away is 79 years old.
  • 67.9% of those who have passed away lived in a nursing home, personal care homes or assisted living residences.

Gov. Wolf released guidance for businesses permitted to operate during the COVID-19 disaster emergency to ensure the safety and health of employees and the public.

May 5, 2020

Below are a few items contained in the guidance document that all businesses conducting in-person operations must perform:

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch areas frequently and continue to regular clean all other areas of the buildings.
  • Establish and implement a plan in case the business is exposed to a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19. This includes taking each employee’s temperature before they enter the business and sending home those who have a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or higher. Ensure employees practice social distancing while waiting to have temperatures screened.
  • Prevent large groups from entering or leaving the building by staggering work start and stop times.
  • Conduct meetings and trainings virtually. If a meeting needs to be held in person, limit the number of employees to 10 and maintain a social distance of six feet.

For a full list of actions employers must perform, please refer to pages two through four of the guidance document.

PennDOT Highway & Bridge Construction Projects Resume May 1

April 30, 2020

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced that in accordance with the governor's plan for a phased-in reopening of public and private construction, PennDOT highway and bridge construction projects will resume beginning May 1. PennDOT road and bridge construction projects will restart with limited exceptions based on project-specific factors, including location and feasibility for social distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols at the job site. Work on all projects will be conducted in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance as well as a project-specific COVID-19 safety plan, which will include protocols for social distancing, use of face coverings, personal and job-site cleaning protocols, management of entries to the job site, and relevant training. The Wolf administration issued guidance for the construction industry.

Construction projects are required to:

  • Maintain proper social distancing
  • Provide hand washing and sanitizing stations for workers, as well as cleaning and sanitizing protocols for high risk transmission areas
  • Identify a “pandemic safety officer” for each project or work site, or, for large scale construction projects, for each contractor at the site.
  • The number of individuals permitted on enclosed portions of a project (non-residential) varies depending on the size of the enclosed site. (There was no additional guidance provided for this.)

Commercial construction firms should also strongly consider establishing a written safety plan for each work location containing site specific details for the implementation of this guidance to be shared with all employees and implemented and enforced by the pandemic safety officer. Contractors performing work at the direction of the commonwealth, municipalities or school districts should defer to those public entities to determine what projects may continue. Local governments may elect to impose more stringent requirements than those contained in the guidance and in such instances, businesses must adhere to those more stringent requirements.

April 23, 2020

Gov. Wolf unveiled his plan for reopening businesses in PA. The PA administration will utilize a three-phase matrix to determine when counties and/or regions are ready to begin easing some restrictions on work, congregate settings, and social interactions. The full “Process to Reopen Pennsylvania” can be viewed here.

    April 22, 2020

    Yesterday, the PA House of Representatives passed House Bill 2400 which would allow all public and private construction activities to continue that adhere to mitigation measures set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect workers and mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Bill will go in front of the Senate for consideration. This new Bill is similar to PA Bill 613 that Gov. Wolf vetoed earlier this week. The full press release from the House Speaker can be viewed here.

    Gov. Wolf Announces Online Vehicle Sale Process, Construction Restart Date, PLCB Curbside Pick Up

    April 20, 2020

    The following industries will be permitted to resume activities on May 8, 2020 as authorized by the Governor’s and Secretary of Health’s April 20, 2020 amendments to their business closure orders and in strict compliance with the Administration’s guidance. According to Gov. Wolf’s official statement, guidance “will be issued by the administration shortly”. Gov. Wolf’s official press release can be viewed here.

    • Residential building construction
    • Nonresidential building construction
    • Utility subsystem construction
    • Land subdivision
    • Highway, street, and bridge construction
    • Other heavy and civil engineering construction
    • Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors
    • Building equipment contractors
    • Building finishing contractors
    • Other specialty trade contractors
    • Automobile dealers (online only)
    • Beer, wine and liquor stores (curbside pickup)

    The following industries are permitted to resume today:

    • Automobile dealers (online only)
    • Beer, wine and liquor stores (curbside pickup)

    April 17, 2020

    President Trump has released Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts. These steps will help state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives. If these guidelines were to be used by state officials, employers may need to perform the following:

    • Develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with Federal, State, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices, regarding:
    • Social distancing and protective equipment
    • Temperature checks
    • Sanitation
    • Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas
    • Business travel
    • Monitor workforce for indicative symptoms. Do not allow symptomatic people to physically return to work until cleared by a medical provider.
    • Develop and implement policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following employee COVID+ test.

    Gov. Wolf: Health Secretary Signs Order Providing Worker Safety Measures to Combat COVID-19

    April 15, 2020

    PA issued guidance for worker protection for the critical/essential employers.

    The order establishes protocols to help employees maintain a social distance during work:

    • Provide masks for employees to wear during their time at the business, and make it a mandatory requirement while at the work site, except to the extent an employee is using break time to eat or drink, in accordance with the guidance from the Department of Health and the CDC. Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with this guidance;
    • Stagger work start and stop times for employees when practical to prevent gatherings of large groups entering or leaving the premises at the same time;
    • Provide sufficient space for employees to have breaks and meals while maintaining a social distance of 6 feet, including limiting the number of employees in common areas and setting up seating to have employees facing forward and not across from each other;
    • Conduct meetings and training virtually. If a meeting must be held in person, limit the meeting to the fewest number of employees possible, not to exceed 10 employees at one time and maintain a social distance of 6 feet.
    • Prohibit non-essential visitors from entering the premises of the business; and

    Upon discovery of an exposure to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, businesses are also ordered to implement temperature screenings before employees enter the business prior to the start of work and send any employee home who has an elevated temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Read Full Article Here

    New Dates In PA!

    PA.GOV

    ILLINOIS

    June 1, 2020

    Executive Order 2020-38 went into effect on May 29, 2020. The intent of the Executive Order is to safely and conscientiously resume activities that were paused as COVID-19 cases rose exponentially and threatened to overwhelm the healthcare system. This Executive Order supersedes Executive Order 2020-32 and Section 1 of Executive Order 2020-07.

    All businesses must:

    • Continue to evaluate which employees are able to work from home, and are encouraged to facilitate remote work from home when possible;
    • Ensure that employees practice social distancing and wear face coverings when social distancing is not always possible;
    • Ensure that all spaces where employees may gather, including locker rooms and lunchrooms, allow for social distancing;
    • Ensure that all visitors (customers, vendors, etc.) to the workplace can practice social distancing; but if maintaining a six-foot social distance will not be possible at all times, encourage visitors to wear face coverings; and
    • Prominently post the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Office of the Illinois Attorney General regarding workplace safety during the COVID-19 emergency.
    • The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), in partnership with IDPH, has developed industry-specific guidance and toolkits to help businesses operate safely and responsibly. These documents are available here.

    Requirements for office buildings:

    Employers in office buildings must ensure all employees practice social distancing and must take appropriate additional public health precautions, in accordance with DCEO guidance, which may include:

    • o Provide face coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain a minimum six-foot social distance at all times;
    • o Consider implementing capacity limits where the physical space does not allow for social distancing;
    • o Allow telework where possible; and
    • o Develop and prominently post plans and signage to ensure social distancing in shared spaces such as waiting rooms, service counters, and cafeterias.
    • Requirements for manufacturers: Manufacturers must ensure all employees practice social distancing and must take appropriate additional public health precautions, in accordance with DCEO guidance, which include:
    • Provide face coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain a minimum six-foot social distance at all times;
    • Ensure that all spaces where employees may gather, including locker rooms and lunchrooms, allow for social distancing; and
    • Modify and downsize operations (staggering shifts, reducing line speeds, operating only essential lines, while shutting down non-essential lines) to the extent necessary to allow for social distancing and to provide a safe workplace in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

    The latest COVID-19 updates for the state of Illinois can be viewed here.

    OHIO UPDATES

    Responsible Restart Ohio

    June 1, 2020

    Amy Acton, Ohio Director of the Department of Health, revised the Director’s Order for Business Guidance and Social Distancing. Included in the Order are updated requirements for most businesses operating in Ohio. Below are a few sections of the Order you may want to reference:

    • Section 7 - Facial Coverings (Masks)
    • Section 13 - Sector Specific COVID-19 Information and Checklist for Manufacturing, Distribution, and Construction
    • Section 15 - Sector Specific COVID-19 Information and Checklist for General Office Environments

    May 21, 2020

    Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, rescinded portions of the current COVID-19 Stay Safe Ohio Order which included the stay at home order.

    May 20, 2020

    Governor DeWine announced (5/19/2020) the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) will begin distributing at least 2 million non-medical-grade face coverings to Ohio employers who are covered by BWC. Public and private employers that participate in the State Insurance Fund will receive a package from BWC containing at least 50 face coverings.

    May 2, 2020

    Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, issued a Stay Safe Ohio Order. Effective 12:01 a.m. on May 4, 2020, manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses may reopen; however, certain actions must be performed. Section 21 of the order contains a list of 17 actions that must be performed in these settings.

    OHIO UPDATES

    West Virginia Updates:

    June 1, 2020

    Gov. Justice awards $7.4 million in Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails Program grants across West Virginia

    The latest COVID-19 updates for the state of West Virginia can be viewed here.

    May 8, 2020

    Gov. Justice West Virginia first state in nation to begin testing all assisted living facility residents and staff for COVID-19. The Department of Health and Human Resources issued information on recommended daily health screenings.

    Recommended questions for screening:

    1. Have you or has anyone in your home had contact within the last 14 days with any person under screening/testing for COVID-19, or with anyone with known or suspected COVID-19?
    2. Do you currently have any of the following symptoms?
    • Fever (100.4°F or higher), or a sense of having a fever.
    • New cough that you cannot attribute to another health condition.
    • New shortness of breath that you cannot attribute to another health condition.
    • New sore throat that you cannot attribute to another health condition.
    • New muscle aches (myalgias) that you cannot attribute to another health condition, or that may have been caused by a specific activity (such as physical exercise).

    If an individual answers YES to any of the screening questions, immediately activate your agency’s protocol for suspected COVID-19. The designated screener should consider:

    • A review of the screening results.

    • Recommendations for possible exclusion of the individual from the facility.

    • Recommendations for medical follow-up.

    Gov. Jim Justice issued a reminder yesterday (5/1/2020) that “Week 2” of the Governor’s multi-phased plan to reopen businesses across the state – “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback” – are scheduled to begin this coming Monday, May 4. This phase includes the reopening of small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, restaurants with takeaway service or outdoor dining options, as well as religious entities and funeral homes.

    How to Safely Remove Gloves

    New Jersey Updates:

    June 5, 2020
    The latest COVID-19 updates for the state of New Jersey can be viewed here.

    May 19, 2020

    Gov. Phil Murphy released the multi-stage approach to reopen New Jersey. There are three stages to the plan and currently, New Jersey is operating under stage one of the plan.

    STAGE 2:

    • Restrictions are relaxed on additional activities that can be easily safeguarded.
    • More work activities are allowed at physical locations only if they adhere to safeguarding and modification guidelines.
    • All workers who can work from home continue to work from home.
    • Some personal care services may be provided on a limited basis.
    • Restrictions are relaxed on most activities with significant safeguarding.
    • More work activities, including in-person meetings, are allowed at physical locations only if they can adhere to safeguarding guidelines and modifications.
    • All workers who can work from home continue to work from home.
    • Personal care services may be provided on a more extended basis.

    STAGE 3:

    • Restrictions are relaxed on most activities with significant safeguarding.
    • More work activities, including in-person meetings, are allowed at physical locations only if they can adhere to safeguarding guidelines and modifications.
    • All workers who can work from home continue to work from home.
    • Personal care services may be provided on a more extended basis.

    View Transcripts from Governor Phil Murphy's Coronavirus Briefing Media on May 16, 2020.

    May 14, 2020.

    Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 142, permitting the resumption of non-essential construction. The Order permits non-essential construction projects to resume effective at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18th. All construction projects must abide by the social distancing, safety, and sanitization requirements that are described in detail in the Governor’s Executive Order. A detailed list of requirements can be found on pages five through seven of the order.

    MICHIGAN UPDATES:

    June 5, 2020

    There are no major updates for the state of Michigan. The latest COVID-19 updates for the state of Michigan can be viewed here.

    May 19, 2020

    Michigan OSHA released additional clarification for the construction and manufacturing industries that applies to (only) the state of Michigan. Below are a few of the requirements for the construction industry and the manufacturing industry (this is not an all-inclusive list). A full list of requirements can be viewed here.

    Businesses or operations in the construction industry must:

    1. Designate a site-specific supervisor to monitor and oversee the implementation of COVID-19 control strategies developed. The supervisor must remain on-site at all times during activities.
    2. Conduct a daily entry screening protocol for workers, contractors, suppliers, and any other individuals entering a worksite, including a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19, together with, if possible, a temperature screening.
    3. Create dedicated entry point(s) at every worksite, if possible, for daily screening (if applicable).
    4. Provide instructions for the distribution of PPE and designate on-site locations for soiled masks.
    5. Encourage or require the use of work gloves, as appropriate, to prevent skin contact with contaminated surfaces.
    6. Identify choke points and high-risk areas where workers must stand near one another and control their access and use so that social distancing is maintained.
    7. Ensure there are sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations at the worksite.
    8. Notify contractors (if a subcontractor) or owners (if a contractor) of any confirmed COVID-19 cases among workers at the worksite.

    Manufacturing facilities must:

    1. Conduct a daily entry screening protocol for workers, contractors, suppliers, and any other individuals entering the facility, including a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19, together with temperature screening as soon as no-touch thermometers can be obtained.
    2. Create dedicated entry point(s) at every facility for daily screening.
    3. Suspend all non-essential in-person visits, including tours.
    4. Train workers on, at a minimum:
      1. Routes by which the virus causing COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person.
      2. Distance that the virus can travel in the air, as well as the time it remains viable in the air and on environmental surfaces.
      3. Symptoms of COVID-19.
      4. Steps the worker must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
      5. Measures that the facility is taking to prevent worker exposure to the virus.
      6. Rules that the worker must follow in order to prevent exposure to and spread of the virus.
      7. The use of personal protective equipment, including the proper steps for putting it on and taking it off.
    5. Reduce congestion in common spaces wherever practicable.
    6. Implement rotational shift schedules where possible.
    7. Adopt protocols to limit the sharing of tools and equipment to the maximum extent possible.
    8. Send potentially exposed individuals home upon identification of a positive case of COVID-19 in the facility.
    9. Encourage workers to self-report to plant leaders as soon as possible after developing symptoms of COVID-19.
    10. Shut areas of the manufacturing facility for cleaning and disinfection, as necessary, if a worker goes home because he or she is displaying symptoms of COVID-

    All Businesses, operations, and government agencies must develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. The latest COVID-19 updates for the state of Michigan can be viewed here.

    May 8, 2020

    Yesterday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-77 to extend Michigan’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order to May 28. The governor’s order will allow manufacturing workers, including those at Michigan’s Big 3 auto companies, to resume work on Monday, May 11 as part of her MI Safe Start Plan. View the order here.

    May 7, 2020

    The construction industry reopens today, May 7, 2020. The Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity highlighted requirements for employers and provided further guidance on best practices to protect Michigan workers and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Under the Executive Order, construction industry employers are required to:

    • Designate a site supervisor to enforce COVID-19 control strategies.
    • Conduct daily health screenings for workers.
    • Create dedicated entry points, if possible, or issue stickers or other indicators to assure that all workers are screened every day.
    • Identify choke points and high-risk areas (like hallways, hoists and elevators, break areas, water stations, and buses) and controlling them to enable social distancing.
    • Ensure sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations at the worksite.

    The governor’s order also requires construction industry employers to:

    • Develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, consistent with recommendations in OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.
    • Keep workers and patrons who are on premises at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent possible.
    • Increase standards of facility cleaning to limit worker and patron exposure to COVID-19.
    • Provide personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, face shields, and face masks as appropriate for the activity being performed.

    Facing Your Face Mask Duties – A List of Statewide Orders

    N95 Respirator Use- Proper Donning and Doffing

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): National Forecast

    June 5, 2020

    The CDC released updated national- and state-level COVID-19 related fatality forecasts. Forecasts based on statistical or mathematical models aim to predict changes in national- and state-level cumulative reported COVID-19 deaths for the next four weeks. Forecasting teams predict numbers of deaths using different types of data (e.g., COVID-19 data, demographic data, and mobility data), methods, and estimates of the impacts of interventions (e.g. social distancing, use of face coverings). Additional information on the forecasting can be viewed here.

    May 28, 2020

    The CDC released Employer Information for Office Buildings. Find out more here.

    May 13, 2020

    The CDC published additional recommendations for manufacturing workers and employers. The CDC provided information on:

    • Creating a COVID-19 assessment and control plan
    • Engineering controls
    • Administrative controls
    • Cloth face coverings
    • Educating and training workers/supervisors
    • Cleaning and disinfecting work surfaces
    • Screening and monitoring workers
    • Managing sick workers
    • Addressing return to work
    • Personal protective equipment

    May 12, 2020

    The CDC published “Factors to Consider When Planning to Purchase Respirators from Another Country” (including KN95 Respirators from China). Below are a few highlights from the CDCs webpage:

    • During the COVID-19 response, NIOSH is conducting modified filtration efficiency assessments of respirators not certified by NIOSH. You can check the test results for products that have been evaluated to date to see if the model(s) you are interested in are included. Note that the test results listed on the page linked above are for FFR samples submitted to NIOSH’s modified test program. NIOSH does not have information on how the tested samples’ performance relates to the performance of other products marked with similar model numbers.
    • Use caution when purchasing a respirator with ear loops as the head harness. Preliminary NIOSH assessments indicate it is difficult to achieve an adequate fit when wearing respirators with ear loop designs. (NIOSH-approved respirators generally do not have ear loops.)
    • Determine if the manufacturer has a test report from a laboratory that is ISO/IEC 17025 accredited and is appropriate for the performance of the model(s) you want to purchase. Even if you validate via the paperwork that the product has been tested by an ISO/IEC 17025-accredited test laboratory, additional due diligence is needed. A NIOSH review of documents from companies based in China has found a significant amount of falsified documentation. While documentation is crucial, it is not a reliable indicator of the product’s performance.
    • Beware of price gouging. Under the existing circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, KN95 models that are expected to provide N95-equivalent protection have been selling for $2 –$3 per unit. If paying more than $2 –$3 per unit, you are likely overpaying. Any per-unit price below $2 $3 is suspect. This will change through time, as the circumstances change.

    May 8, 2020

    The CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published additional guidance for cleaning and disinfecting public places, workplaces, businesses, schools and homes. The latest CDC COVID-19 updates can be viewed here.

    Symptoms of COVID-19

    April 27, 2020

    The CDC updated the list of potential symptoms of COVID-19. The CDC now states:

    Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Or at least two of these symptoms: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.

    Coronavirus and Travel in the US

    April 25, 2020

    The CDC provided additional recommendations for travelers. Recommendations for travelers staying in a hotel include:

    • Take the same steps you would in other public places—for example, avoid close contact with others, wash your hands often, and wear a cloth face covering.
    • When you get to your room or rental property, clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, remote controls, toilets, and sink faucets. Bring an EPA-registered disinfectant and other personal cleaning supplies, including cloths and disposable gloves.
    • Wash any plates, cups, or silverware (other than pre-wrapped plastic) before using.

    April 9, 2020

    The CDC released Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19. To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community. Critical Infrastructure workers who have had an exposure but remain asymptomatic should adhere to the following practices prior to and during their work shift:

    • Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
    • Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
    • Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue face masks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
    • Social Distance: The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
    • Disinfect and Clean work spaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.

    April 5, 2020 : N95 Respirators

    The CDC updated their contingency capacity strategies (during expected shortages). The CDC states: “Extended use refers to the practice of wearing the same N95 respirator for repeated close contact encounters with several different patients, without removing the respirator between patient encounters. Extended use is well suited to situations wherein multiple patients with the same infectious disease diagnosis, whose care requires use of a respirator, are cohorted (e.g., housed on the same hospital unit). It can also be considered to be used for care of patients with tuberculosis, varicella, and measles, other infectious diseases where use of an N95 respirator or higher is recommended. When practicing extended use of N95 respirators, the maximum recommended extended use period is 8–12 hours. Respirators should not be worn for multiple work shifts and should not be reused after extended use.” Additional guidance on N95 respirators can be found here.

    Questions & Answers: KN95 Respirators

    Question: Can I use a KN95 Respirator (approved in China) in the US during COVID-19 Outbreak?

    Answer: Yes.

    According to a recent (January 2020) Technical Bulletin published by 3M, a KN95 respirator is “equivalent” to US NIOSH N95 for filtering non-oil-based particles such as those resulting from bioaerosols (e.g. viruses). However, prior to selecting a respirator, users should consult their local respiratory protection regulations and requirements or check with their local public health authorities for selection guidance.

    • In the OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 publication, OSHA references the CDC/NIOSH Guidance for Optimizing Respirator Supplies.
    • In the CDC/NIOSH Guidance for Optimizing Respirator Use, crisis/alternate strategies are not commensurate with current U.S. standards of care but may need to be considered during periods of expected or known N95 respirator shortages. When N95 Supplies are Running Low - “Use respirators approved under standards used in other countries that are similar to NIOSH-approved N95 respirators but that may not necessarily be NIOSH-approved”

    April 3, 2020

    The CDC has updated their How COVID-19 Spreadswebpage. The CDC states: “Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.”

    The CDC published a summary of research that describes possible decontamination methods of filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs). According to the CDC “FFRs are not approved for routine decontamination and reuse as standard of care. However, FFR decontamination and reuse may need to be considered as a crisis capacity strategy to ensure continued availability. Based on the limited research available, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, vaporous hydrogen peroxide, and moist heat showed the most promise as potential methods to decontaminate FFRs.” The CDC and NIOSH do not recommend that FFRs be decontaminated and then reused as standard care. This practice would be inconsistent with their approved use, but the CDC understands in times of crisis, this option may need to be considered when FFR shortages exist.

    The CDC published guidance on how to disinfect a facility. The publication provides guidance to employers on how to clean and disinfect their facility if someone is sick.

    OSHA Update:

    June 5, 2020

    OSHA’s latest COVID-19 updates can be viewed here.

    May 28, 2020

    OSHA released an alert titled: “COVID-19 Guidance on Social Distancing at Work”. The alert provides steps employers can implement to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. OSHA has launched a new webpage with coronavirus-related guidance for construction employers and workers. The guidance includes recommended actions to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. OSHA provided a description of work tasks with exposure risk levels along with recommended engineering and administrative controls. In addition, OSHA provides information on what information can be included in COVID-19 training. Below is a table that contains work tasks and their associated exposure risk levels.

    May 20, 2020

    OSHA released a memorandum (Revised Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019) to Regional Administrators and State Plan Designees that will assist Compliance Officers (CSHOs). If, after taking the appropriate actions described in the memorandum, 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 discusses:

    • How employers can investigate the case and how to determine if it is work related.
    • Reviewing the evidence available to determine if COVID-19 was contracted at work.
    • OSHA will continue to prioritize COVID-19 cases.
    • OSHA will utilize non-formal phone/fax investigations or rapid response investigations in circumstances where OSHA has historically performed such inspections (e.g., to address formal complaints) when necessary to assure effective and efficient use of resources to address COVID-19-related events.

    On May 26, 2020, the previous memorandum on this topic will be rescinded, and the new memorandum will go into and remain in effect until further notice.

    OSHA released an additional memorandum to Regional Administrators and State Plan Designees to assist Compliance Officers (CSHOs).

    In geographic areas where community spread of COVID-19 has significantly decreased, OSHA will return to the inspection planning policy that OSHA relied on prior to the start of the COVID-19 health crises, as outlined in the OSHA Field Operations Manual (FOM), CPL 02-00-164, Chapter 2, when prioritizing reported events for inspections, except that:

    • OSHA will continue to prioritize COVID-19 cases.
    • OSHA will utilize non-formal phone/fax investigations or rapid response investigations in circumstances where OSHA has historically performed such inspections (e.g., to address formal complaints) when necessary to assure effective and efficient use of resources to address COVID-19-related events.

    April 22, 2020

    OSHA released COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce. The following tips can help reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus:

    • Where work trailers are used, all workers should maintain social distancing while inside the trailers.
    • To the extent tools or equipment must be shared, provide and instruct workers to use alcohol based wipes to clean tools before and after use. When cleaning tools and equipment, workers should consult manufacturer recommendations for proper cleaning techniques and restrictions.
    • Keep in-person meetings (including toolbox talks and safety meetings) as short as possible, limit the number of workers in attendance, and use social distancing practices.
    • Clean and disinfect portable jobsite toilets regularly. Hand sanitizer dispensers should be filled regularly. Frequently-touched items (i.e., door pulls and toilet seats) should be disinfected.

    OSHA Tip of The Day: "Discourage workers from sharing tools."

    April 18, 2020

    OSHA issued Discretion in Enforcement when Considering an Employer's Good Faith Efforts During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic to OSHA Regional Administrators and State Designees. Below are a few highlights from the Memorandum:

    • In instances where an employer is unable to comply with OSHA-mandated training, audit, assessment, inspection, or testing requirements because local authorities required the workplace to close, the employer should demonstrate a good faith attempt to meet the applicable requirements as soon as possible following the re-opening of the workplace.
    • Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) should evaluate whether the employer made good faith efforts to comply with applicable OSHA standards and, in situations where compliance was not possible, to ensure that employees were not exposed to hazards from tasks, processes, or equipment for which they were not prepared or trained.

    April 17, 2020

    OSHA issued an Alert to Help Keep Manufacturing Workers Safe During Coronavirus Pandemic

    Safety measures employers can implement to protect employees working in manufacturing include:

    • Practicing sensible social distancing and maintaining 6 feet between co-workers, where possible;
    • Establishing flexible work hours, (e.g., staggered shifts), if feasible;
    • Training workers on how to properly put on, use/wear, take-off and maintain protective clothing and equipment;
    • Allowing workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent spread of the virus;
    • Monitoring public health communications about coronavirus recommendations for the workplace and ensuring that workers have access to and understand that information;
    • Promoting personal hygiene. If workers do not have access to soap and water for handwashing, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Provide disinfectants and disposable towels workers can use to clean work surfaces; and
    • Encouraging workers to report any safety and health concerns.

    April 15, 2020

    OSHA released Interim Enforcement Response Plan for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for Regional Administrators and State Plan Designees.

    OSHA should investigate complaints, referrals, and employer-reported fatalities and hospitalizations to identify potentially hazardous occupational exposures and to ensure that employers take prompt actions to mitigate hazards and protect employees. This will be conducted in accordance with OSHA’s Field Operations Manual.

    April 14, 2020 - Article from Safety & Health, Official Magazine of National Safety Council Congress & Expo

    According to an agency press release, employers “other than those in the health care industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting and law enforcement services) and correctional institutions” generally will not be required to record COVID-19 cases because they “may have difficulty making determinations about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work."

    “Until further notice, OSHA will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements (1904.7) to require these employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where: (1) There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related; and (2) the evidence was reasonably available to the employer.”

    Read Full Article Update here.

    April 12, 2020

    On (4/10/2020), Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Due to the difficulty of making determinations about whether a COVID-19 case occurred in the workplace, employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting, and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions must continue to make work-relatedness determinations pursuant to 29 CFR § 1904. Until further notice, however, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR § 1904 to require other employers to make the same work-relatedness determinations, except where:

    1. There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related. This could include, for example, a number of cases developing among workers who work closely together without an alternative explanation
    2. The evidence was reasonably available to the employer. For purposes of this memorandum, examples of reasonably available evidence include information given to the employer by employees, as well as information that an employer learns regarding its employees’ health and safety in the ordinary course of managing its business and employees.

    OSHA Quick Card: How to Protect Yourself in the Workplace during a Pandemic

    April 9, 2020

    The March 14 guidance, which applied to healthcare, now applies to all workplaces covered by OSHA where there is required use of respirators. This memorandum will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice. This guidance is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis.

    OSHA released COVID-19 Quick Tips Videos (see below content) which focus on social distancing, disinfecting workplaces and industry work factors to keep workers safe from COVID-19.

    Ten Steps All Workplaces Can Take to Reduce Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus

      On April 4, 2020 OSHA released Enforcement Guidance for Respiratory Protection and the N95 Shortage Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic. As part of the guidance document, the federal government advised that employers may consider using respirators and filters certified under the following standards of other countries or jurisdictions:

      • Australia: AS/NZS 1716:2012
      • Brazil: ABNT/NBR 13694:1996; ABNT/NBR 13697:1996; and ABNT/NBR 13698:2011
      • People’s Republic of China: GB 2626-2006; and GB 2626-2019
      • European Union: EN 140-1999; EN 143-2000; and EN 149-2001
      • Japan: JMHLW-2000
      • Republic of Korea: KMOEL-2014-46; and KMOEL-2017-64
      • Mexico: NOM-116-2009

      If respiratory protection must be used, and either acceptable National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-certified alternatives or alternatives that were NIOSH-certified except for having exceeded their manufacturer’s shelf life are not available for use in accordance with OSHA’s April 3, 2020 memorandum, employers may consider using respirators and filters certified under standards of other countries or jurisdictions, as specified in the enforcement guidance. Additional information related to the different certifications can be found here.

      The memo provides information related to extending the use (or reuse) of N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) in addition to the use of expired N95 FFRs. Below are a few highlights from the memo:

      • In the event extended use or reuse of N95 FFRs becomes necessary, the same worker is permitted to extend use of or reuse the respirator, as long as the respirator maintains its structural and functional integrity and the filter material is not physically damaged, soiled, or contaminated (e.g., with blood, oil, paint). Employers must address in their written RPPs the circumstances under which a disposable respirator will be considered contaminated and not available for extended use or reuse. (See memo for additional related requirements.)
      • Employers may use only previously NIOSH-certified expired N95 FFRs found here. Workers should be notified that they are using expired N95s. (See memo for additional related requirements.)

      April 3, 2020

      On Friday, March 27, 2020 H.R.748 - Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019 was signed into law. Included in the Bill are provisions for the US Department of Labor which included:

      • $15,000,000 will remain available through September 30, 2022, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including to enforce worker protection laws and regulations.
      • $14,000,000 can be used by the Employee Benefits Security Administration, Wage and Hour Division, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Employment and Training Administration—Program Administration.
      • The final $1,000,000 will be given to the Office of Inspector General for oversight of activities.

      Johns Hopkins University of Medicine

      This Coronavirus Resource Center webpage, which was developed by the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, contains COVID-19 related statistical data on a global and national scale. You can click on additional counties within a state to obtain county specific data.

      CLICK HERE

      World Health Organization

      June 5, 2020

      There are no major updates from the WHO. The latest WHO Situation Report can be viewed here.

      May 13, 2020

      The Director-General Dr. Tedros in his media briefing two days ago (5/11/2020), urged a slow, steady, lifting of public health and social measures (so called lock downs), which is key to stimulating economies, while also keeping a vigilant eye on the virus so that control measures can be quickly implemented if an upswing in cases is identified.

      April 3, 2020

      The WHO has updated information related to how COVID-19 can spread from person to person. In the latest situation report, the WHO states: “In a small number of case reports and studies, pre-symptomatic transmission has been documented through contact tracing efforts and enhanced investigation of clusters of confirmed cases. This is supported by data suggesting that some people can test positive for COVID-19 from 1-3 days before they develop symptoms. Thus, it is possible that people infected with COVID-19 could transmit the virus before significant symptoms develop. It is important to recognize that pre-symptomatic transmission still requires the virus to be spread via infectious droplets or through touching contaminated surfaces.” The WHO also states: “Preliminary data suggests that people may be more contagious around the time of symptom onset as compared to later on in the disease.”

      April 2, 2020

      During the WHO Director-General’s briefing, he stated that PPE is one of the most urgent threats to the collective ability to save lives. The WHO has shipped near 2 million items of PPE to 74 countries and is preparing to send additional PPE to 60 other countries.

      FDA

      The latest COVID-19 updates from the FDA can be viewed here.

      On Friday (5/8/2020) the FDA authorized the first diagnostic test with the option of using home-collected saliva samples for COVID-19 testing.

      FDA

      Amerisafe Group Nurses Administer Temperature Screenings at Westmoreland County Courthouse

      Photo and Article Credit: Rich Cholodofsky, Staff Writer, Tribune-Review, (04/09/2020).

      According to the Tribune Review, (04/09/2020) "County commissioners last week approved a contract with Hempfield-based Amerisafe Group to conduct safety screenings at the county’s 911 center in an effort to keep staff with coronavirus symptoms out of the building. County officials almost immediately expanded the program to include the courthouse. Officials reported no issues as the screenings started Wednesday morning at the courthouse. About 150 employees, a reduced number caused by furloughs of county staff because of the pandemic, lined up shortly before 8:30 a.m. in front of the building for the temperature tests."

      Read Full Article Here

      Westmoreland Checking for COVID-19 Symptoms at 911 Center, May Expand to Courthouse

      Commissioners approved a month-long contract with Amerisafe Group to furnish trained employees to conduct screenings at the county’s public safety headquarters on Donohoe Road in Hempfield, where a staff of 52 dispatchers man phones and coordinate first responders. The contract with Amerisafe Group will run through April 30.

      Full Article

      Consultant Predicts A Post-Coronavirus 'Construction Tsunami'

      April 9, 2020

      According to a recent update from Construction Dive (April 2, 2020), Keith Prather, market intelligence expert for Olathe, Kansas-based business management consulting firm Pioneer IQ, developed the Fear and Recovery Curve model to help indicate when the crisis will top out and when it will begin to recede. He told attendees that the U.S. economy will get back to normal sooner rather than later and downplayed some analysts’ views that the outbreak could keep businesses sidelined until early next year. Read Full Article Here.

      COVID-19 Response & Testing Services

      SERVICES

      COVID-19 Coronavirus Symptom Screening

      The Amerisafe Group constantly monitors the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on businesses. Like so many of you we have taken steps internally in response to COVID-19 to not only protect our employees, but also the many customers we continue to service during this crisis.

      You may be struggling with managing COVID-19 and its impacts to your business. Amerisafe can help. We offer a variety of services for companies to assist them in protecting their employees and managing COVID-19.

      Need Respirator Fit Guidance During COVID-19 Outbreak? For additional assistance, please contact our Occupational Health Group: 844-295-6709

      RESPONSE SERVICES

      Worker Screening

      Fortunately many companies continue to operate, but still need comfort in knowing workers arriving to their shift are not symptomatic or otherwise a concern for spreading COVID-19. Our Medical Providers work with customers to develop effective, CDC-based screening tools, and then we serve as their “gatekeeper” in actually screening workers.

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