OSHA Guidelines for Workplace Safety and Health amid COVID-19

William A. Levinson

William A. Levinson

William A. Levinson, P.E., FASQ, CQE is the principal of Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C. He is also the author of several books on quality, productivity, and management, of which the most recent is The Expanded and Annotated My Life and Work: Henry Ford's Universal Code for World-Class Success.
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90 Mins
William A. Levinson

The Chinese characters for "crisis" mean danger and opportunity, and the dangers of coronavirus (COVID-19) are obvious. The disease is highly contagious, it has a relatively high fatality rate, and there is no vaccine against it. During the webinar expert speaker William A. Levinson will suggest the countermeasures recommended by OSHA, the CDC, Surgeon General Adams, and Dr. Anthony Fauci which, if followed diligently, reduce COVID-19 to a still-dangerous but manageable menace by summer

This is because the ability of any disease to spread depends on its basic reproduction number R0, the average number of people whom an infected individual will infect. If this is greater than 1, the disease will spread, and that for COVID-19 is somewhere around 2.6 (the best available guess). If however countermeasures such as hand hygiene, social distancing, limits on public gatherings, and so on suppress this to less than 1.0, the infected population will fall off and there will in fact be no curve to flatten.

The crisis has also, however, revealed enormous dangers associated with complex international supply chains, many of which have been disrupted badly by force majeure. Xinhua, China's official news organ, published a threat to intentionally disrupt U.S. supply chains by cutting off pharmaceutical exports; China threatened previously to cut exports of the rare earths that are used in, for example, electric vehicles. (See for example Fredericks, Bob. 2019. "China threatens to limit rare earths exports in warning over trade war." New York Post, May 29 2019. https://nypost.com/2019/05/29/china-threatens-to-limit-rare-earths-exports-in-warning-over-trade-war/ and also Buncombe, Andrew. 2020. "US and China in war of words as Beijing threatens to halt supply of medicine amid coronavirus crisis." The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/coronavirus-china-us-drugs-trump-rubio-china-virus-xinhua-hell-epidemic-a9400811.html ) This is a strong argument for reshoring American manufacturing capability, which will help with the economic recovery and also provide high-wage jobs for American workers.

Forcible adaptation to COVID-19 through distance education, online conferencing, and virtual tourism could meanwhile create opportunities for everybody involved. If distance education works, then there is really no need to return to classrooms and their associated costs and overhead. This could deliver lower tuition for college students, lower school taxes for property owners, and higher compensation for faculty and staff. Online conferencing and virtual tourism also are less expensive as they do not require travel or lodging, and off-the-shelf technology is available to support them.

As bonus, attendees will recieve an Excel spreadsheet that generates the infection curve via the Susceptible, Infected, Recovered (SIR) model along with documentation of the method. This can be used for educational purposes to demonstrate the benefits of countermeasures such as social distancing in reducing the infection rate. It can also be used to model the seasonal flu when a certain fraction of the population is vaccinated

Webinar Objectives

After attending this critical webinar, you will:

  • Gain an overview of the health and business risks associated with COVID-19, including especially risks associated with complex international supply chains. While nothing in the presentation constitutes formal engineering or occupational health and safety advice, attendees are encouraged to refer to OSHA's (March 2020) free and public domain "Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19" from https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf for details on how to make their workplaces safer once people are allowed to return to work. The webinar will provide an executive summary of this document, as well as additional countermeasures.
  • Learn, and be able to explain, how the countermeasures recommended by OSHA and the CDC will suppress COVID-19 (and the 2019-2020 seasonal flu as a bonus) by reducing its basic reproduction number to less than 1. Attendees will therefore be able to educate other stakeholders such as their coworkers, customers, suppliers, and communities why it is so important to practice hygiene, social distancing, and the other measures. We must, in other words, follow the doctors' orders to the letter and then some.
  • Be able to advocate effectively for reshoring of American manufacturing capability, and recognize long-term opportunities related to distance education, remote conferencing, and virtual tourism.

Webinar Agenda

  • Overview of health and business risks related to coronavirus, including breakdowns of complex supply chains
  • Overview of OSHA's domain  "Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19" as well as respirator and face mask test results by the UK's Health and Safety Executive (their counterpart of OSHA)
  • How reduction of COVID-19's and the seasonal flu's basic reproduction numbers to less than 1 will suppress both diseases within months if everybody complies diligently with the advice and directives from the CDC, OSHA, and similar authorities.
  • Supply chain implications, including China's threats to intentionally disrupt U.S. supply chains
  • Opportunities related to distance learning, remote conferencing, and virtual tourism

Webinar Highlights

  • Dangers associated with COVID-19
    • The health dangers are obvious. The disease is highly contagious, has a relatively high lethality, and does not have an available vaccine.
    • Business risks include business shutdowns that are already happening, force majeure breakdowns in supply chains, and overt threats to intentionally cut off vital inputs to U.S. manufacturers.
  • Overview of OSHA's "Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19"
    • Superiority of engineering controls (such as barriers) over administrative controls (those that rely on vigilance and compliance) and personal protective equipment (PPE), although the latter can indeed be mandatory
    • Classification of job exposure risks as Very High, High, Medium, and Lower.
  • Additional containment measures
    • Social distancing; some stores in Australia are making their aisles one-way to reduce the number of people who must pass one another while shopping. Remember that any action that reduces the potential exposures suppresses the basic reproduction number.
    • The UK's Health and Safety Executive found that even improvised face masks can reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 by 50% (versus 99% for a top-rate N95 respirator). An argument (my opinion) can be made that an across-the-board suppression of 50% will similarly reduce the basic reproduction number.
    • Reconsider the desirability of the handshake as a greeting.
  • Overview of the basic reproduction number (R0) and the SIR (Susceptible, Infected, and Recovered) model. The goal is not to understand the intricate details but rather the central takeaway that reduction of R0 to less than 1 will take down COVID-19 (and the seasonal flu), and without any curve to flatten.
  • Supply chain implications
    • Supply chain interruption due to force majeure has caused widespread economic disruption in the past.
    • These interruptions can now disrupt manufacture of lifesaving medications, and China has threatened to do this intentionally.
    • Manufacturing is the backbone of military power and economic affluence, as stated long ago by Alfred Thayer Mahan (The Influence of Sea Power Upon History). This is yet another argument for reshoring, and as rapidly as possible.
  • Opportunities related to distance education, conferencing, and tourism

Who Should Attend

  • CEOs
  • Plant Managers
  • Workplace Safety Officials
  • Human Resources
  • Chief Operating Officers
  • All decision makers with responsibility for business risks and opportunities related to the coronavirus outbreak
To access this webinar, kindly reach out to our customer support team at support@complianceducator.com.

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