Recorded at AIHce EXP 2021
Forces Influencing Small-Medium Sized Employer Decisions on Worker Protection
Across the United States, workers use many chemicals during their workday. Not all but many chemicals are harmful if inhaled. Unfortunately, this researcher's direct observation revealed that worker protection frequently comes in the form of the least effective method, personal protective equipment. In small-medium-sized employers (SMEs), a single entity, the owner, or a designated representative is responsible for the decisions on how to protect their employees. A review of empirically supported organizational and economic theory reveals several forces that may affect SMEs' decision-making. First, DiMaggio and Powell's (1983) organizational isomorphism theory identifies the external forces (e.g., coercive, mimetic, and normative) that may influence employers. Safety climate (Kalteh, Mortazavi, Mohammadi, & Salesi, 2018) and organizational culture (Schein, 2011) may explain internal forces like safety culture on decisions and the intrinsic value of workers and the employer's need to protect them. Finally, economic theories of cost may explain why SMEs chose the method of protection. Instead of relying on anecdotal reasons, in this research, I step back and ask SMEs directly what forces influenced their decisions. I interviewed twenty SMEs in the concrete and masonry industry. I learned that cost is not always King when choosing worker protection from airborne hazards. I end with a scenario using COVID-19 to illustrate my findings.
Acknowledgments and References: J. Wachter, IUP, Indiana, PA, USA B. Vick, IUP, Indiana, PA, USA S. Jahn, AIHA, Atlanta, GA, USA
Co-Authors: C. Vaccaro, Indiana University of PA, Indiana, PA, USA
Presenter/Author: Bryan Seal, CIH, CSP, CHMM, Indiana University of PA Indiana, PA
WHOI's Response to Covid-19 Pandemic
In January 2020, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) starting planning for the Covid-19 pandemic with a tabletop exercise involving science and administrative departments. Action items were identified, including preparing the workforce for remote working, defining essential onsite operations, developing an enterprise-wide infection control plan, and stockpiling supplies. A Covid-19 task force was established with daily meetings. Based on State guidance, policies, procedures, online training, and communication systems were developed, including a daily Covid-19 assessment form for essential onsite personnel. Infection control procedures addressed, face masks, social distancing arrangements, in-person training requests, essential travel, and occupancy limits on all spaces. Medical testing was coordinated with a local medical clinic. A Re-Opening Oversight Team (ROOT) was formed to oversee a phased re-opening process with Phases 1-3. Building-specific and lab-specific re-occupancy plans were developed that factored in room size, room layout, ventilation system, airflow patterns, and work schedule. Protocols for safely increasing occupancy levels were established. Engineering controls included: higher efficiency filters (e.g., MERV 13), in-duct UV systems, Plexiglas barriers, portable HEPA-filtered units, increasing fresh air and the air exchange rate in spaces. Outside meeting areas were established, including tents with tables.
Presenter/Author: Ronald Reif, PE, CIH, CSP, CHP, Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. Woods Hole, MA