Understanding COVID-19 and Resources

It is important to raise awareness and understanding of COVID-19 among the public in general and at the workplaces in specific while sharing current educational resources including the facts and figures from well known organizations such as:
  • The U.S Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA)
  • The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and
  • The World Health Organization (WHO)

We must work together professionally at every level and issues involved in public and workers (workforce)’s protection and the development of important and critical workforce related to the health, safety, environment in industrial operations with the best available technologies and training for emergency care, training of occupational safety and health care facilities and industrial skills in industrial set up.

WHO is also working with prompt response of live statistics and corona virus news tracking the number of confirmed cases, recovered patients, tests, and death toll due to the COVID-19 corona virus cases on daily basis.

Abdul Hafiz Khalid CHMM, RPIH is a Chemical Engineer/Industrial Hygienist.

Recently people have been sick with corona virus and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working day and night with updated guidance on when it’s safe to leave quarantine, as well as some consumer-friendly guidance on using public transit and ride shares as states loosen restrictions on opening schools, colleges, universities, businesses and leaving home. Recently, the U.S Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) has recommended safety measures employers can implement that include:

  • Isolate any worker who begins to exhibit symptoms until they can either go home or leave to seek medical care;
  • Establish flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), if feasible;
  • Stagger breaks and re-arrange seating in common break areas to maintain physical distance between workers;
  • In workplaces where customers are present, mark six-foot distances with floor tape in areas where lines form, use drive-through windows or curbside pickup, and limit the number of customers allowed at one time;
  • Move or reposition workstations to create more distance, and install Plexiglas partitions; and
  • Encourage workers to bring any safety and health concerns to the employer’s attention

At global level, the WHO is also working with prompt response of live statistics and corona virus news tracking the number of confirmed cases, recovered patients, tests, and death toll due to the COVID19 corona virus cases on daily basis.

Currently there is no vaccine or specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, there are vaccines and drugs currently under investigation. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has estimated that a large clinical trial for a vaccine may be available in 12-15 months or sooner.

  • COVID-19 is caused by a new corona virus strain called SARS-CoV-2.
  • The virus causes mild symptoms in the majority of people, including a dry cough and temperature, which could be managed at home without special treatment.
  • Some people develop severe COVID-19 and need to be hospitalized. Children under the age of 15 and older people and those with underlying health conditions are most at-risk.
  • Frequent hand washing with soap and water, use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoiding people who are unwell, are the best ways to prevent COVID-19.
  • If you feel unwell, stay at home and call your local health authority only in emergency situations. They will tell you know what to do next.

Currently there is no vaccine or specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, there are vaccines and drugs currently under investigation.

Abdul Hafiz Khalid CHMM, RPIH is a Chemical Engineer/Industrial Hygienist.

Prevention and control

  • Stop corona virus infection through frequent washing of hands and not touching your face; making sure to dispose of the used towels and used materials properly after and washing hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough; if feeling unwell, keep away from others. Do not make others feel unwell.
  • Use face-mask effectively with proper fitting once you have to work with someone known to have COVID-19 or have potential of sneezing and coughing to protect others.
  • Remember face-masks are only effective if you’re using them properly with proper fitting and dispose of them very careful and safely in proper disposing containers.
  • Wearing a mask should always be combined with frequent hand-washing; must be well trained when to use the face-mask and how to use them properly.
  • Social distancing from each other is also important to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The exact advice on how to do this will vary between the places at countries, states, counties, cities, and local levels. In some places, people have been asked to stop shaking hands and avoid large gatherings. Other places are advising people to stay at home completely and only leave the house to exercise, or shopping for essentials items if you have to go out or cannot work at home.
  • Slow the spread of the virus by reducing the number of people you meet in a day.
  • A good health system could prevent large number of people and the patient’s facilities simultaneously (Administrative Controls). Use of PPE is the last resort because it cost money and is uncomfortable in most cases.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has estimated that a large clinical trial for a vaccine may be available in 12-15 months or sooner.

Abdul Hafiz Khalid CHMM, RPIH is a Chemical Engineer/Industrial Hygienist.

Disposal of Used Materials from COVID-19

 In my opinion, the disposal of used materials from COVID-19 particularly from hospital is the main problem. Disposal of the used materials from COVID-19 is similar of medical wastes approximately and varies at every level of collection facilities that needs special attention.

Disposal of this kind of waste comes under the regulations of the US. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued from time to time and comes mainly the under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); make important distinctions between the compliance obligations of:

  1. The large quantity generators (LQGs) and
  2. The small quantity generators (SQGs).

 

Hazardous waste Disposal

A much shorter permissible hazardous waste accumulation time for SQGs is perhaps the main difference. The different requirements for small quantity generators and very small quantity generators (VSQGs) are even more extensive. For example, unlike SQGs, VSQGs have no accumulation time limit (although there is a limit on the amount of hazardous waste they may accumulate) and do not need to manifest their waste when transporting it. The status of a generator is determined by the amount of hazardous waste or acute hazardous waste generated per month. Given the distinctions in compliance responsibility, very small quantity generators and small quantity generators have a strong incentive not to generate a monthly amount of hazardous waste that would raise their status to that of an small quantity generators or the large quantity generators, respectively.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a regulatory option that allows VSQGs and SQGs to retain those statuses when an episodic event within a calendar year temporarily results in the generation of an amount of hazardous waste that exceeds the monthly limits for those categories. The episodic event may be either planned or unplanned, but in either case, the rule requires that the generator meet specific conditions if it wants to retain its status.

The generator must comply with hazardous waste management conditions specified in the rule as the waste is accumulated on-site. The generator must use a hazardous waste manifest and hazardous waste transporter to ship the waste generated by the episodic event to a RCRA-designated facility within 60 calendar days from the start of the episodic event. Generally, very small quantity generators (VSQGs) are not required to manifest their hazardous waste shipments to a RCRA-designated facility. However, because the VSQG will be generating quantities of hazardous waste that exceed its normal generator category thresholds, the Agency determined that the use of a manifest and shipment of the hazardous waste to a RCRA-designated facility are most protective of human health and the environment. The generator must complete and maintain records as specified in the rule.

As of now, the situation is coming gradually and slowly under the control monitoring of the virus that has spread across all 50 states. The death toll is about 100,000 from more than 1.6 million confirmed cases. We’ve taken a look at how those figures compare to other countries around the world and how the situation could develop over the next few months. For comparison of Corona virus; how the pandemic in US compares with rest of world, please visit web page at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52771783.

 

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