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This webinar will provide an overview of measures that businesses can take to reduce their vulnerability to further disruption by COVID-19 and similar illnesses while they protect workers and other stakeholders such as customers, and also contribute to public health by "flattening the curve."
The good news is that there is a wide array of proven off-the-shelf countermeasures such as social distancing, workplace controls, and face masks that impede the spread of contagious diseases. OSHA has already released authoritative guidance that is likely to be embodied in a formal standard later this year, but proactive organizations can have most of the requirements in place before they become mandatory. Many jobs can be performed remotely which eliminates the risk of contagion completely, and also reduces costs of a physical presence such as office or classroom space, and commuting and lodging costs. Organizations must also reassess supply chain vulnerabilities to force majeure and even intentional (as threatened by China) disruption.
The coronavirus epidemic has already caused enormous human and economic damage, and is making a dangerous resurgence because people are letting their guard down, not using face masks, and ignoring social distancing guidelines much as they did in 1918. The disease has also undergone mutations that make it more contagious and may defeat the vaccines that are in the pipeline. Organizations must therefore plan and implement countermeasures to protect workers and other stakeholders, and ensure continuity of operations.
The good news is however that the disease can be stopped with existing technology including social distancing, face masks, basic hygiene and some workplace controls. Diligent compliance with these countermeasures should have in fact reduced the disease to a manageable nuisance in April or May, and partial compliance did (along with the annual vaccine) end the 2019-2020 flu season a good month early. The disease remains a menace only because people are going to large gatherings, not wearing face masks, and otherwise not taking it seriously.
Businesses whose nature still requires a physical workplace presence face, however, the prospect of OSHA regulations to protect workers from diseases like COVID-19. The HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act), which has already passed the House of Representatives as of mid-July 2020, will require OSHA to develop such a standard, with which businesses must then comply. OSHA's "Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19" from March 2020 gives a good preview of what to expect, and it will be covered in the webinar.
COVID-19 outbreak has also caused substantial supply chain disruption, and interruption of a supply chain can shut down any business regardless of its quality or its ability to protect its own workers from COVID-19. China has threatened openly to cut off supplies of rare earths and, more recently, lifesaving drugs.
The good news is however that the epidemic has forced businesses and schools to implement work-from-home, distance education, and remote conferencing, all of which eliminate costs of commuting and physical office or classroom space. Now that these technologies have been made to work, there is no reason to go back to the old ways of doing business. This creates an entirely new set of opportunities to reduce costs, increase profits, and increase wages.
• COVID-19 is an extremely lethal and contagious disease that makes it dangerous for people to gather in substantial numbers in, for example, workplaces and entertainment venues. It has also impacted businesses due to shutdowns and supply chain interruptions.
• The countermeasures against COVID-19 work by reducing the disease's basic reproduction number, or the average number of people to whom an infected one will give the disease, to less than 1. Diligent compliance with social distancing and face mask usage should have achieved this during the first half of 2020, but people repeated instead the mistakes of 1918 by letting their guard down as soon as the disease appeared to go away. The mediocre compliance that was achieved did, however, end the 2019-2020 flu season roughly a month early.
• The SIR (Susceptible, Infected, and Recovered) model shows how non pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) like face masks and social distancing, plus vaccination when available—the latter is what helped the former finish off the 2019-2020 seasonal flu—can not only flatten the curve, but break it to the extent that the disease goes away.
• If OSHA issues standards or regulations for protection of workers against COVID-19, workplaces will have to develop appropriate polices and processes. OSHA's (March 2020) "Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19" provides a good idea of what to expect, and its content can be acted on immediately.
• When a job requires respiratory protection (as defined by OSHA), ordinary or even surgical face masks will not do. The workplace must have a written respiratory protection program that meets OSHA guidelines, and must use respirators that meet NIOSH requirements. The good news is however that jobs defined as medium risk, i.e. most jobs outside of health care and emergency response applications, will not require this level of protection. Beware of counterfeit face masks and respirators.
• Non pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as partitions can reduce the disease's ability to spread.
• Force majeure and intentional (from China) threats to vital supply chains are a strong argument for reshoring U.S. manufacturing capability.
• The compulsory reactions to the epidemic have actually created highly lucrative opportunities for proactive organizations that wish to exploit them. Telecommuting, distance education, and even an online arts festival have proven that the costs associated with physical presence can be reduced or eliminated to deliver greater value for all stakeholders (customers, workers, and investors).
Attendees will receive a copy of the slides and accompanying notes, and a handout on respiratory protection, and an Excel spreadsheet with which to illustrate the SIR model. Disclaimer; no part of this presentation constitutes formal engineering or occupational health and safety advice. Attendees are encouraged to consult the material from OSHA, ASHRAE, and the other sources that will be cited in the presentation.
This webinar will provide attendees with information on the epidemiological nature of COVID-19 through the SIR (Susceptible, Infected, and Recovered) model which illustrates the concept of flattening the curve. The webinar will then provide actionable information on how to put this into practice in workplaces to protect employees and customers, and also how to avoid the risk entirely while reducing costs through telecommuting, distance conferencing, and distance education.
All people with responsibility for reopening businesses in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as people with responsibility for occupational health and safety (OH&S) compliance along with building layouts and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).
Years of Experience: 30+ years
Areas of Expertise: Statistical Process Control, Lean Manufacturing, Quality, ISO 9001, Design Of Experiments, Non-Normal Distributions, Quality Management Systems
William Levinson is the principal of Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C. He is an ASQ Fellow, Certified Quality Engineer, Quality Auditor, Quality Manager, Reliability Engineer, and Six Sigma Black Belt. He holds degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering from Penn State and Cornell Universities, and night school degrees in business administration and applied statistics from Union College, and he has given presentations at the ASQ World Conference, ISO/Lean Six Sigma World Conference, and others.View all trainings by this speaker