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Int J Ind Ergon ; 88: 103260, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1704443


INTRODUCTION: In April 2020, novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) produced an ongoing mass fatality event in New York. This overwhelmed hospital morgues necessitating emergent expansion of capacity in the form of refrigerated trucks, trailers, and shipping containers referred to as body collection points (BCPs). The risks for musculoskeletal injury during routine and mass fatality mortuary operations and experiences of decedent handlers throughout the "first wave" of COVID-19 are presented along with mitigation strategies. METHODS: Awareness of the high rates of musculoskeletal injury among health care workers due to ergonomic exposures from patient handling, including heavy and repetitive manual lifting, prompted safety walkthroughs of mortuary operations at multiple hospitals within a health system in New York State by workforce safety specialists. Site visits sought to identify ergonomic exposures and ameliorate risk for injury associated with decedent handling by implementing engineering, work practice, and administrative controls. RESULTS: Musculoskeletal exposures included manual lifting of decedents to high and low surfaces, non-neutral postures, maneuvering of heavy equipment, and push/pull forces associated with the transport of decedents. DISCUSSION: Risk mitigation strategies through participatory ergonomics, education on body mechanics, development of novel handling techniques implementing friction-reducing aides, procurement of specialized equipment, optimizing BCP design, and facilitation of communication between hospital and system-wide departments are presented along with lessons learned. After-action review of health system workers' compensation data found over four thousand lost workdays due to decedent handling related incidents, which illuminates the magnitude of musculoskeletal injury risk to decedent handlers.

Workplace Health Saf ; 69(4): 154-160, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1159537


BACKGROUND: Planning occupational health and wellness services and support directed toward low-wage, essential workers in the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a number of challenges across work settings. This article explores the concerns and needs of low-wage essential workers as understood by experts in the field. METHODS: Leading experts in the areas of occupational health and safety, risk management, insurance, and professional education/training were identified and invited to participate in a Round Table discussion. Questions posed to experts were based on literature that addressed COVID-19, essential workers, low-wage workers, infection transmission, education/training, and social justice. FINDINGS: Experts agreed that special considerations must be in place to address the concerns and needs of the low-wage essential worker. These special considerations should address not only the worker's occupational experience but their family and home environment, fears and anxieties, and the economic impact of the COVID-19 restrictions and requirements. CONCLUSION/APPLICATION TO PRACTICE: The occupational health professional is a key resource to employers charged with addressing the concerns and needs of low-wage, essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Income/statistics & numerical data , Occupational Exposure/adverse effects , Workforce/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19/etiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Occupational Exposure/statistics & numerical data , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pandemics/statistics & numerical data