Updated 7/30/20 - (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 – The Risk Management Department of the Comp Alliance has produced several webinars for our members over the past few weeks – the next one is scheduled for Friday, July 31th at 9:30– visit our Events Calendar for details: https://compalliance.org/events.html. Previous risk management webinars are available on the compalliance.org web-site under Comp Alliance Academy.
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.
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.