COVID-19: We Are Not Out Of The Woods Yet!
You cannot avoid the stories of neighborhood parties, bars and restaurants packed with people, and the constant debate regarding the reopening of schools. Result – more and more states and local jurisdictions are enacting stricter polices, and yes, even regulations, regarding use of face masks and social distancing protocols that not only affect you personally but, in the workplace, as well! Politics aside… I recently read an article indicating that the use of face masks and social distancing protocols may remain the norm for quite a while. This should raise a few red flags in your mind – as to how to move forward with practices that maintain your production schedule as well as provide the protection to your workforce. Take a look at PRINTING United Alliance's COVID-19 Response and Preparedness Plan to get a few ideas!
Another driving force is OSHA as they are inspecting workplaces and issuing citations. Consider this, between 2014 and 2019, OSHA received an average of 1,948 Section 11(c) whistleblower complaints each year. OSHA started to separately track whistleblower claims that include COVID-19-related safety concerns, beginning February 18, 2020. Through August 13, 2020 — a period of less than six months — Federal and State OSHA programs have received more than 2,540 COVID-19-related whistleblower complaints alone. Clearly we are not out of the woods! Taking time now to prepare your workplace can save you dollars and headaches.
Do you operate in Virginia? Do you know that the Commonwealth enacted the first workplace standard this past July mandating employers to follow strict protocols to minimize exposures to COVID-19? Right now, it is only temporary, but their intent is to make it a permanent standard – which raises all sorts of red flags. How do you run a printing press when you need to social distance? And is it safe to run a press wearing a face mask? My colleagues and I addressed this very issue in an interview. We are not out of the woods yet folks!
Now Oregon is looking to enact a workplace standard, similar to Virginia. This rule, which could take effect on September 14th – yes, this September 14th – that would require employers to ensure six-foot distancing between all people in the workplace. Okay, pause here and think about your work areas. Can you design work activities and the workplace to eliminate the need for any worker to be within six feet of another person? And still maintain your production schedule? Or if not practical, you would need to ensure that face coverings are worn by all employees! Again, watch the video.
How about reporting if you have an incident in the workplace? Do you know how to report a work-related case of COVID-19? If not, watch our video that we just posted on this important topic.
PRINTING United Alliance has the resources to help you navigate these murky waters. Now is the time to develop your plan and strategy for implementing workplace practices now that will help you in the future.
Marci Kinter is the Vice President – Government and Regulatory Affairs for the PRINTING United Alliance. Kinter oversees the development of management resources for the Association and represents the screen printing and digital imaging industries, as well as their associated supplier base, before federal and state regulatory agencies and the U.S. Congress on environmental, safety and other government issues directly impacting the screen printing and graphic imaging industries. She is responsible for directing the activities of not only the government affairs portion of the Association’s activities, but the development and implementation of business resources for the membership.
In 2008, Kinter, in conjunction with colleagues from other printing trade associations, was instrumental in launching the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership program. The SGP Program is a registry system for printing facilities that includes third party verification. The program successfully launched as an independent organization in August 2008.
Kinter is a member of and serves as Secretary for the Academy of Screen Printing Technology. In 2001, Kinter received the William D. Schaeffer Environmental Award for significant advancement of environmental awareness in the graphic arts industry.
Before joining PRINTING United Alliance, Kinter worked for The American Waterways Operators, Inc., the national association for the barge and towing industry.
She holds bachelor’s degree in urban planning from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University.