New OSHA guidance targets pandemic flu

first_img OSHA pandemic influenza guidancehttp://www.osha.gov/Publications/influenza_pandemic.html The guidelines, released Feb 6 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), were developed with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and offer advice for all types of work settings, from retail stores to hospitals. The 47-page document is part of a national pandemic preparation effort detailed in President Bush’s pandemic strategy, the DOL said in a press release. The guide also discusses personal protective equipment for employees. It explains the capabilities and limitations of masks and respirators and walks employers through various respirator options, from disposable N95 masks to models that resist industrial oils. Former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who frequently coaches businesses on pandemic preparations in his current role as chairman of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, praised OSHA for issuing the new guidance. Recommended prevention measures range from supplying workers in lower-risk settings with soap, sanitizer, and other supplies to outfitting employees in high-risk jobs with appropriate respirators. “I’m surprised and excited that OSHA is stepping into this,” Thompson told CIDRAP News, adding that speaking at business conferences puts him in close touch with the concerns business executives have about workplace safety in the event of a pandemic. “The guide is very apropos to what businesses are looking for,” he said. See also: “The more information we have and the more planning we can do, the better off we’ll be,” Thompson said. “This is a good step forward.” Feb 8, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The US Department of Labor (DOL) has introduced workplace health guidelines to help businesses understand their pandemic influenza risks and what they need to do to prepare. The centerpiece of the guidance is a four-level pyramid that stratifies workplaces by pandemic flu risk zones and links each zone with suggested preventive steps. For example, a data-entry office with little contact with the public would be classified as a lower-risk zone, while a dentist’s office where aerosol-generating procedures are performed would be a “very high” risk zone. The guide walks employers through several pandemic preparation steps, such as stockpiling infection control supplies and providing employees with a central source for pandemic flu information. The document details what businesses should include in their pandemic plans and offers employers several suggestions about how to maintain business operations during a pandemic. Examples include installing plastic sneeze shields in customer-contact areas to minimize exposure to the virus and expanding Internet, drive-through, or home-delivery customer service strategies. Feb 6 OHSA press release “In anticipation of a flu pandemic, our top priority is protecting the safety and health of America’s working men and women,” said Edwin G Foulke Jr, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “Employers and employees should use this guidance to help identify risk levels and implement appropriate control measures to prevent illness in the workplace.”last_img read more

Neighborhood councils come together to have a voice

first_imgEmpowerment. That was the buzzword Saturday during a citywide congress of Los Angeles neighborhood councils hoping for a greater voice in government. On the fifth anniversary of the first of what became 89 neighborhood councils, city officials joined residents in calling for a louder voice of the people. “Are we here to stay? Are we here to have our voice heard?” asked Guy Leemhuis of the Neighborhood Council Review Commission. “Are we here to be empowered here in the city of Los Angeles?” “Yes!” shouted an estimated 1,000 participants at the Congress of Neighborhoods. The city-run congress at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel downtown was a one-day rally for broadening the strength and effectiveness of the neighborhood council movement. Throughout the day, residents breezed in and out of seminars covering everything from public safety and parks to how councils can work to improve city services. One seminar on best practices covered topics including how to obtain trees, paint and trash cans from the city and calling 311 to express local grievances. “I’m excited,” said Vas Singh, 62, on the board of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council. “I like the interaction with the community leaders from the different councils. This is an opportunity to interact with city managers. It is good to see the feedback from the mayor.” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, speaking about the loss of neighborhood children to gang violence, drew a standing ovation from the congress. “With the neighborhood council movement, we’re seeing the power of people coming together to make a difference,” Villaraigosa said. “Our neighborhood councils must play a significant role in empowering parents to take back their schools.” Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarc n, head of a committee overseeing neighborhood councils, pledged to cut red tape and to double the councils’ annual $50,000 allotments. He also promised better outreach to draw community involvement from neighborhoods lacking councils. “We have the greatest urban model in the history of mankind,” Alarc n said of the council program. “Our challenge of the neighborhood council system is to come together in one resounding drumbeat to bring this city together. “We can’t exclude anybody from the process.” dana.bartholomew @dailynews.com (818) 713-3730160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more