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Safety Spotlight November 2020

November 2020 Volume 8 Issue 11
This issue of "Safety Spotlight" sponsored by Creative Safety Supply.
Best Time to Get Flu Shot

By Kristine Catimbang, OSHAcademy Training Coordinator

Prevention is key to staying healthy during the annual flu season. Flu viruses circulate annually, but your risk of catching a virus increases during the flu season. As we approach the upcoming 2020-2021 flu season, it is more important than ever to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses. The best form of prevention is getting the flu shot each year.

In the United States, the flu season is said to occur in the fall and winter. Flu activity usually peaks between December and February (CDC, 2018). The peaks of flu season were determined through data collected by the CDC between the 1982-1983 and 2017-2018 flu seasons. It is important to get the vaccine at the beginning of the flu season to make sure you are protected during the peak months. The CDC monitors, collects, compiles, and analyzes information on the flu throughout the year see the impact of the flu viruses on the United States each year. Influenza surveillance data collection is based on weekly reports voluntarily provided by states, laboratories, and health care providers. It is recommended for individuals to get the flu vaccine between early September and the end of October. After you get the vaccine, it takes about two weeks for your body to build up enough antibodies to protect you from flu viruses (Pietrangelo, 2020). It takes between one and two months for your body to build up its maximum number of antibodies to fight the flu. Getting the vaccine will lower your risk of getting the flu and lower your risk of complications associated with the flu.

Influenza is associated with serious illness, hospitalizations, and death among certain groups of people. These groups include older adults, very young children, pregnant women, and those with chronic medical conditions. Those at highest risk should get vaccinated to decrease their chances of contracting a flu virus. Getting vaccinated too early can put individuals at higher risk of contracting the flu. Protection from the vaccine fades over time, so getting the vaccine too early can leave you susceptible to contracting the virus near the end of the flu season (Pietrangelo, 2020). It is important to note that older adults should not get their vaccinations too early in the season. Older adults should receive the flu vaccinations during the recommended time between early September and late October. Children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years should receive their doses as soon as the flu vaccines become available.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (July 2018). The Flu Season. Retrieved from

 Pietrangelo, Ann. (July 2020). What’s the Best Time of the Year to Get a Flu Shot? Retrieved from  

Using Hierarchy of Controls When Addressing COVID-19

By Jesse Allred, Guest Contributor

While COVID-19 can’t be eliminated without a vaccine, businesses can make efforts to eliminate or substitute workplace exposure by having employees work remotely, or stay at home as much as possible. However, many regions are reopening which presents the need for more staff at brick and mortar locations. Reopening must be done safely to prevent the virus from spreading further. Like any other workplace hazard, controlling hazards related to COVID-19 is most effective when using the Hierarchy of Controls.

The Hierarchy of Controls is often depicted as an upside-down triangle with the controls starting at the base of the triangle and decreasing in effectiveness. They are:

  • Elimination
  • Substitution
  • Engineering Controls
  • Administrative Controls
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Engineering Controls

Engineering controls are physically installed in the facility to minimize exposure to the hazard. The use of engineering controls is more critical in workplaces where workers have high or very high exposure risk—such as healthcare facilities. This includes air handling systems, designating isolation rooms, and implementing biosafety precautions if specimens from known or suspected COVID-19 patients are being handled.

For workplaces where employees have medium exposure risk, OSHA recommends installing physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards, in-between workstations, cashier stands, reception desks, and checkout counters.

Administrative Controls & Safe Work Practices

Changing the way people behave through administrative controls is arguably the most effective way to slow the transmission of COVID-19. This means maintaining a six-foot distance between others as well as practicing good hand and respiratory etiquette.

One way to remind people to socially distance is by incorporating visual markers. Marking the floor where people are waiting in line—like timeclocks or cashier stands—help keep everyone at a safe and healthy distance. Workplaces with narrow aisles can route traffic through one-way aisles to keep people from getting too close to one another.

Is your workplace an environment that promotes healthy hygiene? By installing additional hand washing stations and hand sanitizer dispensers, people are more likely to clean their hands frequently. Post signs in restrooms to remind employees and customers what good hand washing looks like.  

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment is last in the Hierarchy of Controls because traditionally PPE is a last-ditch effort in keeping people safe. The previous steps in the method should have gotten rid of most of the risks involved with hazards, but there is always residual risk, especially in the case of a pandemic.

In most states, face coverings are required to be worn in any public space or area where social distancing can be maintained. Let people know before they enter the facility what your rules regarding face masks are and remind everyone that both their nose and their mouth must be covered.

Every day it seems like we learn new information about COVID-19, so it’s important to provide employees with up-to-date education on potential risk factors and protective behaviors. Remember to post safety signs to remind everyone of new social distancing rules or other COVID-19 related policies.



176 Healthcare: Workplace Violence and Stress

The prevention of workplace violence has emerged as an important safety issue in and around hospitals and healthcare facilities. Workplace violence, such as physical assaults, or threatening or violent behavior, are a growing problem in the workplace.

Occupational stress has also been a long-standing concern in the health care industry. Studies indicate health care workers have higher rates of substance abuse and suicide than other professions and elevated rates of depression and anxiety linked to job stress. In addition to psychological distress, other outcomes of job stress include burnout, absenteeism, employee intent to leave, reduced patient satisfaction, and diagnosis and treatment errors.

This course takes a closer look at ways healthcare employees can help prevent violence and stress while at work.

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