Technological Advances Reducing Outbreak

Technological advances come in all shapes and sizes. They serve many different purposes, and solve many problems, from how to help you connect with people around you to how you view the world. Technological advances are how we translate growth in this day and age. They affect everyday life, including our health. When it comes to working in hospitals, the success of your technology can determine the success of your patients. Where potential exposure to pathogens is involved, less is more. The less exposure to pathogens, the greater potential for successful patients. Here is a list of 5 innovative technological advances that employ this “less is more” theory and could reduce outbreak of infections in hospitals.

 

  1. Respiratory Technology Innovations.

Starting things with the basics. How do you improve upon the wheel? In many ways, gaining small advances over a long period of time. In a similar fashion, respiratory technology has been improving since it’s conception and continues to strive for the best in that most basic human necessity, breathing. Simply stated, respiratory technology is making gains by slimming down. Respiratory Advancement insider John Raimondi states, “ergonomics can be imperative to getting the job done safely…increased fields of view and lighter-weight masks are becoming increasingly important attributes to users who may be working in respirators for extended periods of time.” Ergonomics are key to advances in safety for respiratory technology; a more wearable device encourages the health of the wearer in times of necessity.

 

  1. Kinnos Highlight.

Four years ago there was an ebola outbreak in the United States. One contributor to this outbreak was contamination from doctors’ uniforms. Contamination occured because of two problems with the required method of decontamination, which involves spraying bleach on uniforms. The first problem is that when normal bleach is sprayed it forms droplets instead of covering the entire surface of the uniform. Additionally, since bleach is not visible to the naked eye, coverage could not be confirmed visually. The solution was adding KInnos Highlight to the bleach used for decontamination. Kinnos Highlight is a bright blue dye which reduces the formation of droplets and then gently oxidizes with the air, giving doctors plenty of time to confirm full coverage of materials and reducing potential for outbreak.

 

  1. Copper coated Uniforms.

Kinnos Highlight, though a simple and effective solution to potential clothing contamination, might be rendered unnecessary with the growth of this technological advancement. According to a recent article reporting this breakthrough, a new composite material made from antibacterial copper nanoparticles has been successfully produced. Also developed is the ability to bind this composite to fabrics such as cotton and polyester in a durable way. The resulting innovation has excellent antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. According to the research findings, the “cotton and polyester coated-copper fabrics showed excellent antibacterial resistance against Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and E. coli.” Once the process of producing this new technology is simplified, it will be more accessible to healthcare professionals, providing a safer work environment and less risk of infection and outbreak.

 

  1. Cloud-based Analytics Platforms.

Hospitals all over the world are stripping down their data centers and putting efforts into pursuing cloud-based analytics platforms. This technological advancement serves to keep patients and practitioners safer by safeguarding information. However, according to Richard Stroup (Director of Informatics at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City), use of these platforms goes beyond the function of data security and increases chance of overall wellness. Stroup states that their facility uses cloud services to host an app and data that “literally save lives of at-risk pediatric patients by tracking them after they leave the hospital”. Children with compromised health have weakened immune systems are more susceptible to pathogens present in hospital settings. Communicating conditions and receiving feedback via applications leads to less chances of outbreak. Additionally, other applications ensure that methods for accountability and knowledge to keep up with best health practices are more accessible than ever before. Technological advances through apps like SafetyStratus help nurses and doctors more easily assess patient schedules and keep assignments manageable, so that accidental exposure to illness can be avoided.

 

  1. Wearable Medical Devices.

In the healthcare industry, small wearable devices are making huge steps in innovation. The potential for these devices to facilitate remote patient monitoring increases patients ability to maintain awareness of their own conditions and reduces the need for hospital visits and exposure to pathogens. Additionally, according to an article from Today’s Medical Developments, “the precision of such devices have the potential to improve diagnosis, and a more customized treatment or post-treatment recuperative plan.” The increase in consistency of feedback of medical conditions leads to higher success rate in recuperation, and directly reduces potential for outbreak.  

Whether these advances come through aesthetics or more technical avenues, they all are improving patient and professional health and safety.

 

Ed Bell Construction Company Takes CSEA

Ed Bell Construction Company was honored at the recent AGC National Convention with First Place in the Highway and Transportation Under 800,000 Manhours Division of the Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA). Ed Bell Construction Company has won a CSEA three out of the four years they have applied. According to the AGC CSEA website, the selection process is extremely comprehensive and analyzes essential parts of applicant companies’ safety programs, including “company management commitment, active employee participation, safety training, work site hazard identification and control, and safety program innovation.” Kerry Hurd, Director of Safety at EBCC, comments that winning an AGC award, “holds a lot of weight” in the construction industry. “Construction is competitive” Hurd explains, “we are constantly bidding for projects. County jobs sometimes look for the best contractor. They take into account your reputation and years of experience. A couple of times we had the second highest bid, but won the contract because of our reputation.”

 

Ed Bell Construction Company’s reputation is spelled out on their webpage, “Safety as a Culture- Home Safe. Every Person. Every Shift.” Tasked with creating this “Culture of Safety,” Kerry Hurd, comments that winning the award this year was “a Team Effort.”  Hurd has been the Director of Safety at Ed Bell Construction Company for six years. In those six years, he feels his team has succeeded in establishing safety maintenance and upkeep, and the only fight now is against complacency. “People are uncomfortable with doing things in an unsafe way” Hurd says, “they see the reward from active safety.” Hurd claims that his success as Director of Safety, is only possible through the success of the individual workers. “If someone is fired for doing something unsafe,” claims Hurd “then it means I did something wrong. In a culture of safety, the need is for managers to be teaching, not reprimanding.” This mindset illustrates the foremost attributes outlined in the CSEA selection process.

 

Hurd’s understanding of Safety Culture, and the imperative need for it to saturate the workplace, is the culmination of a career of safety management.  Starting out over twenty years ago with his first construction job, tunneling work on the subway system in LA, Hurd still regards his work there as one of hallmarks of his career. Hurd remarks about this fledgling experience, “safety was presumed. You didn’t play around with safety, but took care of things to the ‘T’. OSHA compliance was everywhere, if something was off, you would get sued.” Starting out in such a safety pervasive environment disciplined Hurd, and taught him to share this discipline with others, preparing him to be the self-titled “Salesman for Safety” that he is today. Kerry Hurd states simply about his ability to share this mindset with his workers, “Everyone has a meeting with me during new-hire orientation, and I explain that letting everyone do what they want means an unsafe environment. We’ve had a couple guys leave because they got tired of all the ‘rules,’ and come back after a couple months because they saw what the alternative was, and didn’t like it.” No doubt EBCC’s team’s competency for safety imperatives is strengthened by reinforcement from the individual worker, the management, and company president combined.

One factor which has enabled Kerry Hurd in his desire to further safety compliance amidst his team is the growing partnership with SafetyStratus. Through use of the software, Hurd is able to enforce the latter attributes looked for in the CSEA award process, that of work site hazard identification and control, and safety program innovation. Hurd states that the most common way he employs SafetyStratus software is running a report for the top five deficiencies in EBCC’s safety program every quarter. In Hurd’s words, the SafetyStratus Platform uses “real numbers and data. The team can share actual photos from on site, so you can see what needs to change.” Hurd claims that, “challenging superintendents on safety roles is complicated for managers who have no field experience. However, miscommunications are reduced when you know what you are looking for, and can present visual evidence to all those involved. In this way, reinforcement is put into practice, as the most common “problem areas” are emphasized for that quarter, so they can be fixed. Hurd claims that “following OSHA regulations can be simple, everything is on iPads now, so safety can be efficient.”

Partners like Ed Bell Construction Company and power-users like Kerry Hurd help to advance SafetyStratus’ goal of innovation in safety technology and how it is employed. Reinforced with another CSEA, Ed Bell Construction Company is sure to succeed in their efforts to continually campaign for safety culture, and SafetyStratus appreciates the opportunity to support them in that endeavour.

 

SafetyStratus College and University Award

February 18, 2018. The American Chemical Society (ACS) division of Chemical Health and Safety (CHAS) has announced the winner of the 2018 Safety Stratus/ CHAS College and University Award. Douglas Walters, the 2018 CHAS Awards Chair, states that, “The award is given to acknowledge excellence in undergraduate chemistry safety programs.”

The award this year goes to the Department of Chemistry, and the Department of Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Nominations are submitted before December of the previous year, and chosen to be recognizedbased on numerous qualifications to assess their dedication to establishing, promoting and perpetuating a highly effective undergraduate chemical safety program. The presentation of the award and acceptance of the commemorative plaque will take place in the afternoon on August 19, 2018 at the 256th Annual National Meeting and Exposition for the ACS, Nanoscience, Nanotechnology & Beyond, in Boston Massachusetts. Previous Winners of the SafetyStratus College and University and Safety Award are listed here:

2017: Stanford University

2016: Duke University

2015: University of Pennsylvania

2014: University of California Davis

2013: North Carolina State University

In addition to the Universities who have invested in maintaining safe projects and facilities for undergraduates, the awards highlight the contribution of supporting technology and consulting safety professionals.

To learn more about the ACS and chemical research and safety, visit any of the links provided or register to attend any one of the ACS national or regional meetings.

Civil Rights and Safety

Last week we celebrated Martin Luther King Day. Martin Luther King Junior was a civil rights leader whose voice shook the foundations of America and resonated throughout the entire world. In the United States we celebrate King’s life on the third Monday in the month of January each year; this year we celebrated on January 15th, King’s actual birthday. Many cities celebrate this holiday with parades and community get-togethers. Federal legislation often preempts the celebration by encouraging American citizens to volunteer, therein embodying Martin Luther King’s cause of bettering society and helping your fellow man. As we reflect on the past week and remember our day of celebration, we can remember that innovative thinking is a cause which will continue on. While we honor one who dedicated his life to civil rights, we can continue to propel his dream by educating ourselves on all the details of life that civil rights entails.

The fight for civil rights has not ended. Basic civil rights include not just the right to work, but the right to work in safety; not just the right to vote, but the knowledge of how voting affects your everyday life. Jordan Barab,  former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA, makes the statement in his online newsletter, that all American workers, “need to know that there are technical resources out there. And they all need to know that politics matters, voting matters — in national and local elections. Politics and voting affect workers’ likelihood of coming home alive and healthy,  how much they’re getting paid and what their rights are. Everything is connected — tax cuts, growing deficits, federal budgets, executive orders, regulatory “reform” — it all affects workplace safety every day.” These “technical resources” Barab refers to include Barab’s own blog, myriads of webinars, OSHA’s website, and many more. As we remember a man who famously fought for the civil rights of American citizens, it is important to remember Martin Luther King Jr. both in word and deed, to use the resources at hand to educate oneself on and vote to establish the civil right of safety in the workplace.

Building the Bridge

 

IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single company in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a new budget plan. (Thanks, Jane). Typically companies’ “New Year’s Resolutions” come in the form of new projects, facelifts, etc. When the company is the United States government, administration changes affect the entire nation.

According to recent information, due to efforts from the Trump administration to downsize the federal bureaucracy, OSHA has lost 40 field inspectors since January 2017. It is OSHA’s mandate to increase the safety of the American workplace. Accidents in the workplace can mightily disrupt overall company success. OSHA’s website estimates that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone. In a 2014 OSHA Inspection Q&A with Industry Expert Rick Foote was asked “how to convince management to better prepare” for new projects. Foote’s answer was quite a compelling one. Not only does a commitment to such programs reduce insurance cost, but also significantly reduces the likelihood of job-related injury. In cooperation with employers, safety initiatives have seen a lowering in the average number of workplace accidents. Simply stated, you don’t skimp on safety.

These government cutbacks may have affected allocated spending on safety, but they have not affected the need for and enforcement of safety protocols. In an article addressing the decrease in inspectors, OSHA reportedly responded that “its enforcement efforts have remained vigorous, even with fewer inspectors on the job.” Additionally, as technology advances, government and private agencies have been working to make safety information more attainable than ever. Awareness has been a recognizable high priority. The CDC recently made advances in a research initiative called Prevention through Design (PtD), that informs businesses and academia on the need for safety programs. PtD released their online publication last year, quickly furthering their outreach. SaaS companies like SafetyStratus assist other institutions in the utilization of safety protocols. Eric Mittenthal of the North American Meat Institute, made a statement that exemplified this readiness in American companies, “Inspectors don’t make workplaces safe. People and programs do by working to prevent problems before they occur and by creating workplace cultures where safety is top of mind.” In our rapidly accelerating technological world, companies now have the tools to match the desire to bridge the gap between safety and success in the American workplace.

Safety For Success In 2018

The 11th most popular 2018 resolution is to find a better job, according to a 24/7 Wall Street’s survey. The correlation between the popularity of this resolution and the abysmally low 32% of American employees surveyed who claimed to be actively engaged at work is worth investigating. As the economy has been lifting out of the recession, companies as well as individual employees are adjusting priorities in the workplace. The average American worker is less than content to just have a job now; there is a reclaiming of pride in the workforce. Employees are placing more value on job satisfaction.

Employees who are more engaged will lead to a more productive and innovative workforce and reduce cost involved in turnover and new-employee training; so the question facing companies now, is how to increase employee satisfaction? OSHA has done their homework and claims to have found one way in which to invigorate employee satisfaction. Industry Expert Rick Foote states, “if employees feel that management cares about their safety and well-being this will help with morale and should turn into better production from employees.” So, involvement of management and employees in an established safety plan not only deepens understanding on all sides, but also will affect employee morale, saving companies from costs not only because of avoidable accidents, but also from unnecessary turnover.

When you have all your ducks in a row, they are more likely to get where they’re going.