COVID-19 HAS KILLED NUMEROUS “ESSENTIAL WORKERS” – AMERICA’S EMPLOYEES ARE NOT DISPOSABLE!

For over 30 years, I worked in the field of Environmental, Health and Safety. My responsibility – to protect the lives and health of thousands of employees in several countries. COVID-19 reminds me daily of the critical importance of protecting human life.  I have seen and experienced too many occasions where company’s placed PROFIT OVER PEOPLE.  That prioritization may benefit a company in short term results. But, I have watched Fortune 100 companies learn from near or actual bankruptcy, that the prioritization of PROFIT OVER PEOPLE will in the long term destroy your business.

As we emerge from this necessary  shut down of businesses, we must maintain the focus and prioritization of PEOPLE OVER PROFIT!

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION RETURN TO WORK GUIDELINES – MARCH 16, 2020

https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/#criteria

 

The Federal Government recommends a three-phase return to work. I was disappointed in the vague language for PPE requirements.  It read:  “Develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with Federal, State, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices, regardingSocial distancing and protective equipment.”

 

BELOW DEMONSTRATES THE HARSH REALITY WHEN PROFIT IS PLACED OVER HUMAN LIFE!  – COVID-19 DEATHS IN THE FOOD PROCESSING INDUSTRY

  • The number of confirmed cases among Smithfield Food’s, South Dakota, hog processing facility has mounted slowly to a cluster of 644 confirmed cases among Smithfield’s 3,700 employees and one reported death. This plant and hundreds more have been designated “critical infrastructure industry” and was instructed by Smithfield Leadership to remain fully operational.  On April 15, 2020, Smithfield finally closed under pressure from the South Dakota governor’s office, as the plant had become the number one hotspot in the U. S. for COVID-19.  When running at full capacity, the facility processes 19,500 hogs per day.
  • Smithfield employees allege early requests for personal protective equipment (masks) were IGNORED, that ill workers were incentivized to continue working, and that information regarding the spread of the virus was kept from them, even when they were at risk of exposing family and the broader public.  If true, this is unethical and deplorable behaviors by company leadership.
  • Four employees of a Tyson’s poultry operations in rural southwest Georgia, died after becoming infected with the COVID-19.  Tyson Foods declined to say how many workers there have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • A JBS meatpacking plant in Colorado has shut after five deaths and 103 infections among its employees.
  • Two workers at a Tyson Foods plant in Iowa also died, while 148 others contracted COVID-19.

 

We cannot eliminate ALL risks associated with  COVDI-19 from work environments.  But we can practice good health and safety policies that will significantly reduce that risk.

REDUCTION OF RISK – CDC GENERAL EMPLOYERS GUIDELINES FOR ALL PHASES 

“Develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with Federal, State, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices…”

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

ALL EMPLOYEES

  • Conduct Employee COVID-19 WORKSITE HEALTHY AND SAFETY awareness and prevention orientation for ALL returning employees.
  • If possible, conduct this training by computer.  If not, ensure proper safe distancing while conducting sessions.
  • Schedule as  many sessions as needed to maintain a minimum of six feet spacing.
  • Recommend providing computer-based training {TO ALL EMPLOYEES} on COVID-19 awareness and prevention.
  • CONSIDER SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS for personnel who are members of a VULNERABLE POPULATION.
  • Draft written requirements if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.  Who will need to be quarantined or tested?  Sanitation mechanism and requirements.  Barriers/Isolation of work areas. See- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html

See CDC.gov for materials:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/index.html

DEVELOP & IMPLEMENT POLICIES/PROCEDURES FOR EMPLOYEES CONTACT TRACING FOLLOWING EMPLOYEE COVID POSITIVE TEST RESULTS 

 

Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be excused from work.  Compensation to be determined by your sick leave policy.  Because of the need for a 14-day minimum quarantine, consider modifications to existing sick leave and absence policy.  For employees that may have been exposed to the infected employee they should be removed from the work location and sent for immediate COVID-19 testing. Require those employees to quarantine themselves for 14 days , when they’re exposed to co-workers testing positive for the virus.

All potentially contaminated  departments and equipment to be shut down for 72 hours and sanitized after a worker tests positive.

  • Employees who appear to have symptoms  (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home.
  • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The employer should instruct fellow employees about how to proceed based on the CDC Public Health Recommendations for Community-Related Exposure.
  • DO NOT ALLOW SYMPTOMATIC EMPLOYEES TO PHYSICALLY RETURN TO WORK UNTIL CLEARED BY A MEDICAL PROVIDER 

NON-TOUCH LABOR AND OFFICE PERSONNEL

Employees whose jobs DO NOT require physical handing of products, should remain sheltered in place and continue to work from home. Continue to ENCOURAGE TELEWORK, whenever possible and feasible with business operations.

TOUCH LABOR EMPLOYEES 

MONITOR WORKFORCE FOR INDICATIVE SYMPTOMS WITH MANDATORY TEMPERATURE CHECKS -EACH SHIFT

SHIFT START UP

  • 100% sampling of employees’ temperatures prior to facility entry upon their arrival at work to help reduce risk of COVID-19. Utilize infrared – No-Touch Thermometers.

  • The CDC has to date NOT issued guidance on employee screenings. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said companies can take employees’ temperatures or ask if they have symptoms of COVID-19, such as a cough or shortness of breath. Medical professionals and health experts, howeverwarn temperature checks are an imperfect tool. They say employers must couple the screenings with other measures, such as providing masks, encouraging employees to keep a distance from one another and monitoring workers for other symptoms.
  • Consider providing your employees inexpensive  thermometers for home and asking them to check for a fever at home.
  • Employees with a temperature above 100 F, to be sent for immediate COVID-19 testing. {Your company will need to revise existing sick leave policies to accommodate those employees being sent for testing and those testing positive for COVID-19. Ensure your policies and practices are consistent with public health recommendations and are consistent with existing state and federal workplace laws.}
  • Draft written requirements if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.  Who will need to be quarantined or tested?  Sanitation mechanism and requirements.  Barriers/Isolation of work areas. See- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

  • Develop social distancing measures to help protect employees.
  • Mark employee’s work locations on production floors to ensure six or more feet of separation.
  • Eliminated stand-up meetings during shifts. Share information via bulletin boards, email, etc.
  • Stagger break times, and spread out chairs in break-rooms.
  • Ensure social distancing for new hires training.
  • Revise training protocols to minimize employees gathering in one spot.
  • Close COMMON AREAS where personnel are likely to congregate and interact or enforce moderate social distancing protocols.
  • Better spacing in cafeteria or break rooms to allow six feet spacing.

PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

  • Distribute face masks that meet CDC requirements for Non-Health Care employees, to ALL employees.
  • Provide training how to properly wear and when to change mask.  Recommend computer-based training where possible.
  • Note: A face mask (also called a surgical mask, procedure mask, or other similar terms) o should not be confused with a respirator.  The mask acts to contain potentially infectious respiratory secretions at the source (i.e., the person’s nose and mouth).
  • Require all employees to wear latex gloves (if the employee can do the job safely while wearing gloves) unless other industrial gloves are being worn.

SANITATION AND USAGE OF DISINFECTION OF COMMON AND HIGH TRAFFIC AREAS.

Preventative measures today are critical, including following CDC guidance for disinfecting and cleaning buildings and facilities after an employee tests positive for COVID-19. The guidance includes closing off areas used by the ill employee.

  • Develop Pre and post shift sanitation instructions.
  • Regularly sanitize door handles, stairway handrails, lockers, elevator buttons, tables, chairs, touch screens, etc. {IF THEY CAN TOUCH IT -CLEAN IT!}
  • Hand sanitizers/disinfectant wipes at each entry (interior and exterior) door.  Additional units in large manufacturing locations, spaced so within easy reach of ALL employees.
  • If needed, extension of break periods time to allow all employees more time to ensure 20 secondhand washing.
  • Significant increase DAILY sanitation of the facility.  {NOTE: Hong Kong Airport is using virus-killing robots to disinfect public areas https://flip.it/rSgEa1

Consider improving the engineering controls using the building ventilation system. This may include some or all of the following activities:

  • Increase ventilation rates.
  • Increase the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the system.

  • Provide disinfectant in work areas, so employees can clean high touch surfaces minimum every two hours. Make sure they can practice physical distancing recommendations and follow CDC workplace guidelines.
    • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
    • For disinfection, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available herepdf iconexternal icon. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).

Strategic placement of LABELED Biohazard trash cans for gloves and masks.

 

SUPPLY NEEDS – {THESE WILL BE HARD TO SOURCE – START SOURCING NOW IN ANTICIPATION OF RESTARTING}

  • Infra-red no-touch thermometers
  • Biological Waste Disposal Cans
  • Face Mask
  • Latex gloves
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Cleaning materials
  • Materials to mark floors to ensure six feet of spacing

 

 

CONCLUSION

“Everybody talks as if they know what’s going to happen, and nobody knows what’s going to happen.” Charlie Munger     

As an EHS professional I celebrated when employees and leaders worked together to eliminate hazards and prioritize human life.  And I mourned when there was a failure that resulted in a father, mother, son, or daughter killed.  When for the sake of a product, we lost our focus and allowed a team member to die.  In every case it was PREVENTABLE.

 

We MUST do a better job at protecting essential health care professionals and other essential employees during our current public health crisis.

As we begin to restart jobs in states, counties and regions, let’s learn from failures and adhere to recommended CDC, Federal, State and Corporate guidelines to reduce the risk of harm to your employees.  

If YOU take care of YOUR employees, employees will take care of their work and YOUR customers.

{CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS CORONAVIRUS BLOGS}

HOW TO MANAGE CORONAVIRUS HEALTH AND INVESTMENT RISK – MARCH 2, 2020

 https://wealthbuildingpowers.com/2020/03/02/the-risk-of-coronavirus-to-our-health-and-global-stock-markets/}

WHEN THE U. S. HAS A COUGH THE REST OF THE WORLD CATCHES A COLD – WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CHINA HAS A CORONAVIRUS?  – MARCH 9, 2020

https://wealthbuildingpowers.com/2020/02/24/when-the-u-s-has-a-cough-the-rest-of-the-world-catches-a-cold-what-happens-when-china-has-a-coronavirus/

PANICKING WILL NOT ERADICATE THE CORONAVIRUS PROBLEMS – MARCH 16, 2020

https://wealthbuildingpowers.com/2020/03/16/panicking-will-not-eradicate-the-coronavirus-problems/

WHEN FEAR RUNS HIGH, THE NEED FOR COURAGE MUST RUN HIGHER!  – MARCH 23, 2020

https://wealthbuildingpowers.com/2020/03/23/when-fear-runs-high-the-need-for-courage-must-run-higher/

THERE IS ONE THING WE CAN ALL DO TO HELP SOME OF OUR TRUE HEROES – MARCH 30, 2020 

https://wealthbuildingpowers.com/2020/03/30/there-is-one-thing-we-can-all-do-to-help-some-of-our-true-heroes/

 A CALIBRATED LIFTING OF THE CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY SHUTDOWN – APRIL 6, 2020 100

https://wealthbuildingpowers.com/2020/04/06/a-calibrated-lifting-of-the-coronavirus-emergency-shutdown/

THE S&P 500 REBOUNDED 25% IN THREE WEEKS –  BUT THE WORSE MAY NOT BE OVER  APRIL 13, 2020 

THE S&P 500 REBOUNDED 25% IN THREE WEEKS –  BUT THE WORSE MAY NOT BE OVER 

 

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ABOUT ME

I am a proud nerd (as my beautiful wife and daughter have told me) investment and finance blogger, with a NC State, Chemical Engineering, University Rutgers, MBA and Harvard University, Advanced Management education.

I left a corporate career because I had a desire for making a difference as a speaker and writer, to help others. I was blessed to be coached and mentored by strong women and men in both my family and professional life.  It is my time to serve and give back.

DISCLAIMER

I started my first business at ~13 years of age (small but brilliantly created plant nursery). I am a successful investor in stocks, options, real estate and happy to share my personal finance and investment lessons learned with you.

However, I am NOT a licensed financial advisor.  Please do not construe my suggestions on this blog, as recommendations for your personal situation.  For individual finance advice please seek your own licensed CPA or fiduciary financial advisors.  

I write this weekly blog to make an impact by reaching an audience and demonstrating the need for financial literacy. I will help you get there.

 

 

 

 

 

Powers Investments Management, LLC

This blog will provide, information and simple strategies, that will assist you to achieve YOUR financial objectives and long term targets. For over 30 years, I solved multi-million dollar problems, for Fortune 10-250, companies. My formal education includes: Business, Finance and Chemical Engineering {Problem Solving} at: Harvard, Rutgers and North Carolina State. And an additional 30+ years, managing my family’s investment decisions. I currently manage/advise people with net-worths ranging from the tens of thousands to several million dollars.

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