COVID-19 Safety Webinar

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Safety in the workplace is more important than ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. EKU’s Department of Safety, Security and Emergency Management’s assistant professor, Dr. David Stumbo, and program coordinator, Dr. Troy Rawlins, will discuss the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace in this session.

Transcript

Priya Eastwood:

Hello and welcome to the EKU COVID webinar.

Dr. David Stumbo:

Hello, this is Dr. David Stumbo. I’m an assistant professor with the Department of Safety, Security and Emergency Management at Eastern Kentucky University.

Dr. Troy Rawlins:

Hello, I am Dr. Troy Rawlins. I am the Program Coordinator, associate professor at Eastern Kentucky University.

Priya Eastwood:

My name is Priya Eastwood, I am a student advisor here at Eastern Kentucky University for the Undergrad Program.

Dr. David Stumbo:

We’re going to talk a little bit about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workplace. I’ll be speaking just a little bit. There is a lot to this topic, but if you have followed public media at all, you’ll have probably heard about the many disruptions of standard normalcy in the workplace. The fact that first off, of course, many businesses in the United States and other countries were forced to shut down. Then others were required to implement a number of protective measures for their employees, as well as members of the public and clients and customers. It was quite a challenge for some businesses to make this transition. They had a lot of difficulty, of course, understanding what was necessary to protect their employees and to keep their businesses open. There was a lot of shortage of Personal Protective Equipment in addition to just the capacity for training their employees, a lot of businesses were forced to restructure and change the way they did business and are still at least up to date at this time undergoing those changes.

Dr. David Stumbo:

There’s a lot of information out there to sort through. It’s also fairly evident in some of the sources that I’ve seen, that there has been a hesitancy on the side of the Federal OSHA to enforce requirements to protect workers. In some cases, there have been state programs, state OSHA’s that have at this point six months later after the onset or more of the pandemic, I have noticed that some states such as Oregon are issuing penalties, issuing fines, taking enforcement actions, but still much of Federal OSHA seems to be more in a advisory capacity.

Dr. Troy Rawlins:

In addition to what Dr. Stumbo highlighted, the disruption is ongoing. The CDC has presented some guidelines and also the AIHA and ACGIH. Lots of different organizations have implemented guidelines, which are useful to employers and safety professionals to try to incorporate into the workplace to keep workers safe. Remember, as a safety professional your task is to ensure the safety and health of the employees in the workplace. A part of that is keeping employees safe from biological, such as COVID. The disruption is real. It is causing lots of unexpected consequences, such as disruption, not in just the production process and the quality of the materials that organizations are providing. It’s also impacting in the healthcare and other industries. The PPE that workers have access to, they’ve been documented, where first responders and medical professionals do not have the N95 masks. I know in certain hospitals, they don’t have the gowns or they have to share the gown, have to create their own using garbage bags and stuff like that. Those things are things that you as safety professionals have to work on to keep workers safe.

Dr. David Stumbo:

Thanks Dr. Rawlins. For sure there has been quite of a lot of responsibility placed on safety professionals to tackle the pandemic on top of all their other regular duties. I received a couple of really panicked phone calls early in the pandemic from safety professionals. One of which works in a major manufacturing automobile manufacturing facility. They were just doing research, calling around, calling their former professors like myself, ask them like, “Well, what do you think we should do? What do you think our COVID-19 program should look like? How do we protect our employees?”

Dr. David Stumbo:

Then doing research now, of course, quite a bit of guidance has come out now, like Dr. Rawlins mentioned from the CDC. In the next slide, we’ll see a link out to the Federal OSHA website, which Federal OSHA has developed quite a bit of guidance materials on COVID-19. They have a COVID-19 web page specifically. It is a overall form of infection control. Some employers are familiar with that, but a lot of employers, it was a whole new world for them. That’s something that we cover quite a bit in our courses at EKU, infection control generally within bloodborne pathogens. Now we’re certainly expanding that out, COVID-19 and other upcoming infectious agents that we’re probably going to see in the near.

Dr. Troy Rawlins:

Part of our curriculum like Dr. Stumbo was saying is how to write written programs and how to implement those programs based on industry standards and best practices that will assist you in protecting your employees from these type of biological hazards. We can help you by teaching you the best practices and how to write written programs, more importantly, to implement them. Writing programs are pretty easy but implementing them is difficult. Learning how to establish a culture where that program can exist in and be beneficial to your employee more as a living document.

Dr. Troy Rawlins:

Those things are important. The faculty that at EKU are top-notch, we are all practitioners, as well as researchers able to assist you in getting towards your career goals and occupational safety. If you have questions our faculty is always welcome to answer them, always student first, student initiated. We take pride in building quality safety professional staff. The next generation is going to leading the… To take the charge in the workforce. There are lots of different-

Dr. Troy Rawlins:

One of the great things about the safety profession is the variety of jobs or positions that are available to you as a graduate. Do a quick Google search you’ll see that safety positions are all over the place. They’re plentiful. The titles might be a little bit different, but essentially the duties remain the same, to keep working from becoming harm and to protect property and the environment. We have a robust internship and co-op program where we can assist students in getting jobs and positions. I just did a quick Google search on our website to look at just what a safety specialist annual wages are. They’re at $76,000.

Dr. Troy Rawlins:

There are 20 folders, they’re saying that the annual wage for the high end of the position is $111,000 after the 90th percentile. They work all over the place, in government, private sector, all these different industries, because we train you to be a generalist. That you can work in any industry because you understand the regulations and how they are enforced and how you’re supposed to implement them. You can be successful in any of these industries. What’d you say, Dave?

Dr. David Stumbo:

Definitely. As internship coordinator, I’m contacted by a wide variety of workplaces employers, industries, and construction certainly is common because the construction industry is going gangbusters at this time. The construction industries are like, “We need safety professionals. Help us out EKU. Send us some graduates, send us some interns.” They really come knocking at EKU. It’s not just construction, of course there’s any number of other industries. There’s a government, the State of Kentucky, the US Federal Government, Federal OSHA. We had a virtual recruiting event with Amazon two days ago and Amazon is as most anybody knows, growing tremendously right now. They are hiring and they don’t just hire drivers. They hire safety professionals whose job is to protect the drivers and the warehouse workers and all the other staff. Just some examples there, there are many others.

Priya Eastwood:

Thank you both so much for that. Here at EKU we offer the Bachelor’s of Science in Occupational Safety. With that degree, you can discover new ways to keep workers safe and healthy by designing preventative safety plans. You can graduate in as few as 2.5 years, and it is a 100% online. All of your courses, all of your coursework, everything is a 100% online. The program is asynchronous so you never have to be online at a specific time. You can work with your own schedule and you can still improve your education while remaining active as a safety professional. Our veteran faculty or our safety professionals with public and private sector experiences are welcomed as well. The admission requirements for the bachelor’s is just a diploma from an accredited high school, with a minimum GPA of 2.5 and ACT constant score of 18, and to send an official high school transcript or GED exam results.

Priya Eastwood:

You can always submit your applications online. With the Master of Safety or Science and Safety, Security and Emergency Management, there is no GRE for applicants with a 2.5 undergraduate GPA or higher. You can graduate in two years with this program. Again, the coursework is a 100% online. Again, you can improve your education while remaining active as a safety professional. Veteran faculties are welcomed and you can choose from several concentrations with this, for the submission requirement, a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning is required. An official transcript from a university that granted your bachelor’s is also required. The GPA has to be at least a 2.5 and a score of 550 for international students for the TOEFL. Again, you can submit this application online. Please note that we are taking applicants for the spring 2021 term. For more information on that program, you can always contact your enrollment advisor. The number is below (859) 267-2797 and always feel free to schedule an appointment with the Vcita link.