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Professional Safety ; 68(5):23-25, 2023.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-2314333


[...]in 1996, with campus president support, an umbrella safety council was created that includes representation of both OSH and non-OSH activities. Over time, the non-OSH representation has expanded, incorporating representatives from areas such as human resources, building facilities management, employee assistance and wellness, mental health, environmental waste management, campus security and disaster preparedness. With the safety councils support, the wellness and employee assistance programs conducted focus group discussions and determined a major cause of the observed stress was rooted in personal financial management challenges. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the safety council members became concerned about the overall well-being of the university community and, as such, assisted in the conduct of two waves of a campus-wide survey measuring aspects such as mental health, well-being concerns about COVID-19, personal finance worries and accessing reliable sources of information.

Appl Biosaf ; 27(3): 119-126, 2022 Sep 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1967826


Introduction: With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a rapid adjustment of work tasks was necessary for many biosafety programs (and other safety programs) to address drastic shifts in workload demands amid pandemic-related shutdowns and subsequent needs for supporting COVID-19-related safe work protocols, diagnostic testing, research, vaccine development, and so forth. From a program management standpoint, evaluating and understanding these tasks were critically important to ensure that appropriate support and resources were in place, especially during such unprecedented times of rapid change and significant impact to normal life and routine. Methods: Described here are examples of how the biosafety program at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) addressed these challenges. Results: As part of this required pivot, key services and tasks emerged into three distinct categories: (1) those that were temporarily diminished, (2) those that had to continue despite COVID-19 and the associated shutdowns for safety or compliance purposes, and (3) those that dramatically increased in volume, frequency, and novelty. Conclusion: Although the adjustments described were made in situ as the pandemic evolved, the cataloging of these tasks throughout the experience can serve as a template for biosafety programs to plan and prepare for the next pandemic, which will inevitably occur.

Am J Otolaryngol ; 42(5): 103017, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1163310


PURPOSE: To evaluate the effectiveness and ease of N95 respirator decontamination methods in a clinic setting and to identify the extent of microbial colonization on respirators associated with reuse. METHODS: In a prospective fashion, N95 respirators (n = 15) were randomized to a decontamination process (time, dry heat, or ultraviolet C light [UVC]) in outpatient clinics. Each respirator was re-used up to 5 separate clinic sessions. Swabs on each respirator for SARS-CoV-2, bacteria, and fungi were obtained before clinic, after clinic and post-treatment. Mask integrity was checked after each treatment (n = 68). Statistical analyses were performed to determine factors for positive samples. RESULTS: All three decontamination processes reduced bacteria counts similarly. On multivariate mixed model analysis, there were an additional 8.1 colonies of bacteria (95% CI 5.7 to 10.5; p < 0.01) on the inside compared to the outside surface of the respirators. Treatment resulted in a decrease of bacterial load by 8.6 colonies (95% CI -11.6 to -5.5; p < 0.01). Although no decontamination treatment affected the respirator filtration efficiency, heat treatments were associated with the breakdown of thermoplastic elastomer straps. Contamination with fungal and SARS-CoV-2 viral particles were minimal to non-existent. CONCLUSIONS: Time, heat and UVC all reduced bacterial load on reused N95 respirators. Fungal contamination was minimal. Heat could permanently damage some elastic straps making the respirators nonfunctional. Given its effectiveness against microbes, lack of damage to re-treated respirators and logistical ease, UVC represents an optimal decontamination method for individual N95 respirators when reuse is necessary.

COVID-19/prevention & control , Decontamination/methods , Equipment Reuse , Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional/prevention & control , N95 Respirators/microbiology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , COVID-19/transmission , Colony Count, Microbial , Hot Temperature , Humans , Prospective Studies , Time Factors , Ultraviolet Rays