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The Executive Briefing - Friday, April 28th

OSHA hot on heat illness

Health News:

  • Danish scientists identified thousands of unknown viruses in babies’ diapers. (Washington Post)
  • Scent-trained dogs are highly accurate in detecting COVID in schools. (CIDRAP)
  • An outbreak of Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria at a medical center in Seattle sickened dozens and killed four. (Seattle Times)
  • More adults are getting seasonal allergies for the first time due to climate change. (NBC)
  • As the COVID emergency declaration ends, the data sharing around case rates and community spread will get less clear. Many private COVID data tracking projects from news and academic organizations have ended, as well. (KFF)
  • A man in Bozeman, MT died a day after eating at a local sushi restaurant, and multiple other diners have reported GI illness after eating there in a similar timeframe. (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)
  • Wastewater testing may help keep an eye on RSV, E. coli, and other pathogens. (NPR)
  • The CDC will lower the vaccine requirements for foreigners entering the US, now just requiring one dose of an mRNA vaccine. (The Hill)
  • More than 1 in 5 people skip healthcare treatment because they don’t have transportation to the appointment. (Axios)
  • A Salmonella typhimurium outbreak last summer has been linked to cantaloupe farms. It sickened 87 people with 32 hospitalizations in 11 states. (FDA)

Mental Health News:

  • Work friends are crucial for your mental health. (TIME)
  • Artificial intelligence is raising possibilities and concerns about therapy and mental health counseling. (Al Jazeera)
  • Social media is particularly damaging to Gen Z’s mental health, a new study says. (The Guardian)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. 

Best Questions:

We’ve heard there are new OSHA rules around heat-related illness. What should we know?

Both federal and California OSHA are focusing more on heat illness as temperatures continue to climb, which can apply to those who work outdoors or in hot bakeries and kitchens. CalOSHA’s slightly more strict requirements include a shaded cool-down area any time temperatures are over 80 degrees, among other rules. Federal OSHA has launched a national emphasis program, meaning they’re doing targeted enforcement for heat-related illness. When considering your heat policies, remember that the majority of heat-related issues happen in the first week of work, so allowing workers to build heat tolerance is a major component, as are regular breaks, access to water and shade, training, and a clear emergency plan if an employee has heat stroke or another heat-related illness. When in doubt, cool the worker down (an ice bath is best!) and call 911.  In addition to the federal OSHA standard, MN, CA, and WA all have state-specific heat standards that go beyond the federal one, so be sure your legal team is involved when writing up your policies on this subject.

Mother’s Day is coming up. What should we think about to prepare for our highest volume day?

Mother’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. It’s a day where being fully staffed is incredibly important, so there can be pressure on sick employees to work with symptoms. But on a day with such high volume, the stakes are even higher than normal if an employee infects others when working sick. Some of our biggest workplace outbreaks have been after Mother’s Day and other big dining-out holidays when a sick employee worked despite knowing they shouldn’t have - including managers. Make sure to schedule enough staff to account for someone to call out sick, and remind managers that encouraging an employee to work sick can come back to bite them. 

If our employees don’t have health insurance, should we offer free COVID tests? 

A recent study showed that nearly 60% of US households ordered the free government tests, and 1 in 4 said they wouldn’t have tested otherwise. That means that people will test for COVID if they have symptoms, but only if it’s cheap and easy for them to do so. People without insurance or who are underinsured will likely have to pay out of pocket for COVID tests moving forward, so making sure that employees can grab a free test at work is a relatively cheap way to ensure they test. And even though COVID tends to be more mild now that we’ve all built up some immunity through vaccination, infection, or both, it’s still an infectious disease that keeps people out of work and spreads in communities and workplaces (not to mention increases likelihood of long COVID which costs your business money in the long run). Ultimately it’s a good thing for your team’s staffing and your bottom line when people test and stay home when they’re COVID+ rather than infect others in the workplace. 

Best Read:

Long COVID Is Being Erased—Again - The Atlantic

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.