Updated 9/25/20 - (Latest News in RED)
By now, we are all well aware of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, but let’s take a closer look at controls to help slow transmission of the virus in our communities. Municipal facilities are normally locations the public visits to conduct business and attend public gatherings. From this standpoint, the community spread of this virus can be more easily transmitted from within our facilities. Community spread means that people have the potential to be infected by the virus through general contact means and not necessarily directly from an infected individual. Municipalities must consider community mitigation measures to help slow the transmission spread of the virus, especially with the absence of a current vaccine available to control the spread medically.
Updated – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today (9/7/2020) signed legislation (S8617B/A10832) requiring all public employers to create plans to adequately protect workers in the event of another state disaster emergency involving a communicable disease. The plans would apply to both the state and localities, including school districts. Plans must be submitted to unions and labor management committees within 150 days, and plans need to be finalized on April 1, 2021. Check for Comp Alliance e-mails and our Comp Alliance web-site for additional information and risk management assistance.
Visit our Event Calendar at https://compalliance.org/events/calendar.html. To date, our Risk Management staff have conducted virtual training for over 900 attendees from about 70 municipal members.
Updated – Please be aware of toxic hand sanitizers being sold in New York State. The Food and Drug Administration has produced an updated warning for consumers about the risk of methanol contamination in certain hand sanitizers: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-methanol
Updated – With the majority of NYS entering Phase 4 reopenings, issues have been raised about the mandatory staff health screenings with relation to contact with positive cases of coronavirus. On a daily basis, health screenings should include at a minimum, if they have had a fever in the past few days, have they tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days and if they have come in close contact with anyone who has tested positive in the past 10 days. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, they should self-quarantine for a period of up to 14-days. Both NYS and the CDC have issued guidelines for this process:
Your municipality must approve policies for the handing of these affirmative health screening questions, including time away from work, testing, and sick-leave standards.
Updated – From the NYS Governor’s Office, social gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed as part of Phase 4. Currently, gatherings of up to 25 people are permitted in regions that are in Phase 3. Please confirm with your Regional Control Rooms to confirm the status of your region’s phase.
A reminder that the State has a mental health hotline available for anyone who needs it. We cannot underestimate how a crisis can impact our mental health. Remember: You are never alone. For free emotional support, consultations and referrals to a provider, call 1-844-863-9314.
The State is partnering with the company Headspace to provide New Yorkers with free meditation and mindfulness resources. We can't underestimate the impact this public health crisis has on mental health. New Yorkers can access a collection of free guided meditations, along with at-home mindfulness exercises and additional resources to help address rising stress and anxiety. Visit www.headspace.com/ny. In addition, to help curb loneliness and isolation during the pandemic, three Cornell students developed an app to help make a "Quarantine Buddy" and connect people of all ages from around the world as we are all social distancing.
Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order authorizing businesses to deny entry to individuals not wearing masks or face-coverings. He has also issued an Executive Order allowing commercial buildings to conduct temperature checks for people entering office buildings as employees begin to return to the office – in an effort to keep office workers safe.
The Governor’s office has issued a Re-Opening NY Safety Plan Template - https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/NYS_BusinessReopeningSafetyPlanTemplate.pdf. Each re-opening business must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. A business may fill out this template to fulfill the requirement, or may develop its own Safety Plan. This plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval but must be retained on the premises of the business and must made available to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection. Additional Concerns is a document produced by the Comp Alliance Risk Management Department and is available at www.compalliance.org and contains other items of interest for our municipal members during this re-opening phase.
New York's diagnostic testing criteria have been expanded further. If you are eligible, I encourage you to get tested. Testing is FREE and available to:
There are over 700 locations where New Yorkers can get diagnostic testing. New Yorkers can visit a new website — coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you — and enter their address to view a list and a map view of the nearest testing sites. The state has also partnered with Google Maps to display testing site results. New Yorkers can search "COVID testing near me" on Google Maps to easily find the nearest testing sites. Please remember you must always schedule an appointment to get a COVID-19 diagnostic test by calling 1-888-364-3065 or your healthcare provider.
With the requirement to wear face coverings, it is important to know the proper way to put-on and take-off the masks. If the respirator (face mask) has a nosepiece, it should be fitted to the nose with both hands, not bent or tented. Do not pinch the nosepiece with one hand. Respirator/facemask should be extended under chin. Both your mouth and nose should be protected. Do not wear/push the respirator/facemask under your chin or store in clothes pockets between use.
Remove and discard respirator (or facemask if used instead of respirator). Do not touch the front of the respirator or facemask:
Perform hand hygiene after removing the respirator/facemask and before putting it on again if your workplace is practicing reuse.
The State COVID-19 tracker now includes more comprehensive demographics. The website, www.ny.gov/covid-19tracker, now includes additional data on the gender distribution of positive cases, as well as fatalities by age group.
Community spread of the coronavirus is not completely understood, but the virus is thought mostly to spread from person-to-person through close contact and from respiratory droplets whereby an infected person’s cough or sneeze produces airborne droplets which can then land in the mucous membranes of others (nose, eyes, mouth) or possibly inhaled into the lungs. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic, but spread of the virus might be possible before infected persons show symptoms. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.
Community transmission prevention measures to be considered by our Comp Alliance municipal members include the current preventative measures expressed by Federal and NYS public health agencies – with an emphasis on individual employee responsibilities to implement prevention measures. In particular, consider the following measures:
Municipal employees in Public Works/Highway facilities should also look to wash and sanitize hands on a routine basis, plus minimize break-room use and utilize social distancing when possible with co-workers and the public. Clean tools between use – utilize disposable sanitary cloths to wipe-down tools between uses to minimize community transmission. Consider your other work spaces too, like cabs of trucks and equipment controls – look to wipe-down steering wheels between use, shift levers, equipment control shifts, vehicle door handles, and other surfaces inside vehicles touched by staff throughout the day, plus those “high-touch” areas around the garage like fuel pump handles and garage door openers. Provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE) – some work functions may need to adapt new PPE procedures. Launder work clothing thoroughly and wash hands after touching soiled work clothing.
Additional considerations for the health of your employees should include:
An issue certainly related to coronavirus fears will be the increase of stress in the workplace. Employees are certain to be dealing with additional stress in their lives and interact with a public which is likely to have additional stress as well. Stress can make workers irritable and anxious, effecting them physically and mentally, and lingers when not addressed positively. These periods of high-stress inflicted on your community and staff will create situations where tempers become short and arguments occur that might erupt into potential violence. Administrators will observe employees and they themselves should self-monitor for looming stress and be instructed to overcome its negative effects. Encourage staff to remain positive during interactions with the public – understand that the community will be under stress and assist them in a positive manner. When staff experience high-stress, require them to take a constructive “time-out” where they can relax, stretch, slow their breathing, walk, communicate with family and friends throughout the day, and take a break from the stressors of work. Encourage employees to develop personal coping mechanisms (identify productive activities which they find fun and take comfort in), and finally, encourage them to develop good sleep habits as a good night’s sleep is an effective contributor to a positive attitude.
Municipal administrators must consider the continuity of operations, and how to maintain essential operations should the coronavirus severely affect your community and work environment. Essential services such as water and sewer treatment, police services, fire services, electrical services, payroll, among others, are still required for municipal operation when employees may be sick or at the suggestion of their doctor, are required to be self-quarantined. Consider emergency operations during these conditions – are there outside contractors available, are shared service agreements in place with surrounding municipalities (including County and NYS services), are other department workers available and trained to short-term substitute for sick employees (i.e. water and sewer plant certified operators), will services have to be diminished due to the lack of available employees and how is this communicated to the public, and consider the order of administrative succession and how will leadership be delegated for the municipality as a whole and within vital departments? For this reason it is important to make sure that duly-authorized deputies are appointed and ready to act in the event that a principal officer falls ill, self-quarantines or is otherwise unable to perform the duties of the office.
The preventive and preparatory measures discussed here are intended to help slow the transmission of COVID-19, but there remains a great deal of uncertainty and the situation remains fluid. We urge all our members to exercise caution and watch for further guidance.
NYCOM has launched a guide to help local governments re-open during the COVID Pandemic
New York State’s Department of Health has recently issued a NY FORWARD BUSINESS RE-OPENING SAFETY PLAN TEMPLATE: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/NYS_BusinessReopeningSafetyPlanTemplate.pdf
This template is a guide for municipalities during the re-opening process, with an emphasis to protect the People, Property and Processes at your municipal operations. Each business and industry must have a written plan in place to protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer and implement process for lower risk of infection in the business. The template is an excellent document to utilize, and along with the Comp Alliance additional considerations, will greatly assist your municipality with re-opening with the best protections in place.
Members are encouraged to visit the Comp Alliance Re-Opening NY Safety Culture Talk by clicking here, for additional considerations to assist in re-opening your municipality.
On Monday, April 13th, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order with new requirements for all essential businesses or entities. Effective 8:00 p.m. on April 15, 2020, any employees who are present in the workplace shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. This order applies to local governments, so to the extent that any Comp Alliance member has employees that have direct contact with the public, they will be required to provide face coverings.
To assist our members in complying with this new requirement, the Comp Alliance has ordered a limited quantity of facemasks for its members. Each member will receive a box of 50 initial facemasks during the week of April 20th. While we recognize some of our members will have a greater need than these initial 50 masks, we may have additional quantities available as well, so please contact your Comp Alliance marketing or loss control rep for further details.
Please let us know if you have any questions, we wish you good health.
In an effort to assist our members even further with their training needs in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) New York State on Pause, the Comp Alliance is now providing our safety training via Zoom video conferencing.
We can now provide the following safety training topics to members utilizing Zoom Video Conferencing:
The Governor of New York recently issued a statement making it mandatory for businesses, including local government, to reduce workforce outside the home to 50%. This rule does not apply to essential services, but the majority of municipalities will be affected. The impact of workplace safety will be dramatically affected from this reduction in workforce. Essential municipal operations include many high-hazard functions which can only be safely completed with multiple employee involvement. The majority of highway and public work operations can be considered high-hazard and it remains critical that department heads consider the safety of a reduced staff, to complete tasks which normally are considered safe. Not only might field work safety be compromised, but the safety of garage (mechanics) and office staff may as well.
A typical best practice for employee safety is to use the ‘Strength in Numbers’ rule, where employees work together with co-workers present to provide support in the event of an emergency, be it for a physical issue, dealing with troublesome customers, or during heavy-load work (i.e. mechanical). Co-workers have each other’s back during these conditions, so the reduction in work-force creates an increased risk during these work situations.
In response to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in New York State, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has guaranteed workers job protection and financial compensation in the event they, or their minor dependent child, are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the Department of Health, local board of health, or any government entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19. See Guidance For Obtaining An Order For Mandatory Or Precautionary Quarantine.
Know Your Rights Webpage - With NYS currently on pause the State has established a Know Your Rights Webpage to be used as a reference for employees during this pandemic. This page includes information on testing, unemployment, insurance, mortgage and rent, and price gouging.
Testing - Testing is free to all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider or by calling the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065. Click Here for more info.
Emotional Support for New Yorkers - call the COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314 for mental health counseling.
Local Health Departments - Your local health department is your community contact for COVID-19 concerns
Coronavirus Updates - Click Here to sign up for the Governor's updates
The Comp Alliance provides program members wth access to the Comp Alliance Academy which contains topical webinars, videos, quizzes and other training resources along with access to an extensive video library through Safety Source.
In light of the current Coronavirus Pandemic, the Comp Alliance has made some relevant training tools available publicly. Please utilize these training courses to help with you safety efforts during this challenging time.
The Comp Alliance recently partnered with Safety Source delivering more than 850 safety training videos to Comp Alliance members free of charge. The videos are effective, easy to understand, and a great supplement to your training programs.
Safety Source has four videos we would like to highlight that can benefit program members during the Coronavirus pandemic:
The NYS Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) has temporarily suspended the requirements for original signatures on several forms because many people are working from home due to COVID-19. For details please Click Here.
The Comp Alliance has developed a helpful abbreviated client service kit for at home use. Please pdf Click Here (1.78 MB) to download this kit.This kit includes contact information for our service team, steps for filing claims, and common claim filing forms.
Much of our service team is now working remotely but employees have access to all our computer systems, claim files, and email. In addition we will continue to have key staff members in the office to perform essential functions, including check printing, to ensure that all payments to injured employees and services providers are made on an uninterrupted basis.
The following are helpful links that can be used as additional resources related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Given the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we want to assure our Comp Alliance Members that we are taking your employee health, community health, and that of our staff as a top priority. We want to assure all clients of the Comp Alliance that we are working diligently to meet the extraordinary challenges presented by the Coronavirus. In order to ensure the protection of our own employees, we are currently working with most of our staff remotely.
These employees have access to all our computer systems, claim files, and email. Phone calls to their desk phones are being electronically routed to their home or cell phones in real time. Our claim examiners will be able to perform 100% of the functions they normally perform at our office. In addition we will continue to have key staff members in the office to perform essential functions, including check printing, to ensure that all payments to injured employees and services providers are made on an uninterrupted basis.
|24 Nov 2020|
08:00AM - 08:30AM
HAZWOPER Awareness Training Live Via Zoom
|30 Nov 2020|
10:00AM - 12:00PM
Live Zoom Safety Training for Comp Alliance Members
|01 Dec 2020|
10:00AM - 12:00PM
Live Zoom Safety Training for Comp Alliance Members