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Venture-Backed ‘Sentinel Occupational Safety’ Introduces ‘Safety as a Service’ for hazardous and confined space workers

SafeGuard by Sentinel Occupational Safety

With SafeGuard, a safety manager can oversee the health and safety status of multiple workers simultaneously, including their location, various physiological health indicators, hazards, and stressors.
With SafeGuard, a safety manager can oversee the health and safety status of multiple workers simultaneously, including their location, various physiological health indicators, hazards, and stressors.
With SafeGuard, a safety manager can oversee the health and safety status of multiple workers simultaneously, including their location, various physiological health indicators, hazards, and stressors.
  • Aptima Ventures and Accelerant fund spin-off of technology developed for US Air Force

  • Sentinel’s SafeGuard offering provides ‘Safety as a Service’ to monitor and protect workers in dangerous industrial environments

  • Patented fusion engine combines sensors, data, and AI for personalized real-time monitoring and alerting

WOBURN, Mass., Oct. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — With millions of workers injured and killed annually in hazardous industrial workplace environments, Sentinel Occupational Safety Inc., a new venture-backed startup, is introducing its ‘Safety as a Service’ platform known as SafeGuard™ to improve workplace safety through more preventive oversight.

SafeGuard’s unique IoT approach combines sensors, wearables, and AI analytics to intelligently and continuously monitor workers in a variety of dangerous occupational settings. From frontline firefighters and construction workers who face excessive heat, smoke, and pollution on the job, to those working inside dangerous confined spaces in the presence of noxious fumes, chemicals, and other hazards, workers face far greater risk of injury or death when inadequately monitored, working alone or remotely.

– 100 occupational fatalities each week are deemed preventable. Work-related injury and illness cause 500+ million annual lost workdays.*

How SafeGuard works
SafeGuard fuses a combination of environmental, human, and locational data from a worker’s sensors, analyzing it in the cloud and at the edge to provide real-time detection and alerting. For a mechanic welding inside a ship compartment, for example, algorithms assess their physiological, atmospheric, and other indicators, including heart rate, breathing, air quality, and motion, detecting risks such as dangerous levels of fuel vapors or low oxygen, and their health status.

Unlike current safety protocols that rely on one-to-one observers to check in with confined space workers at intervals, SafeGuard’s cloud-based monitoring enables a single safety manager to oversee the real-time health and safety of 15-20 workers simultaneously, even tracking their precise locations in GPS denied environments.

Predictive alerts and intuitive at-a-glance “green-yellow-red’ status indicators provide continuous, comprehensive monitoring for proactive injury prevention. In the case of high risk or man-down situations, SafeGuard’s built-in decision support capabilities facilitate the appropriate intervention, including emergency or medical response when seconds and minutes are crucial.

Commercializing defense innovation
Funded by Aptima Ventures and the Dayton-based Accelerant Fund, Sentinel was launched to commercialize an innovative ‘confined space monitoring system’ originally developed to improve safety oversight of US Air Force aviation maintenance personnel. The system developed by Aptima, Inc., Lockheed Martin, and the Air Force, and the basis of SafeGuard, will improve real-time incident detection and alerting for safer operations. It is also expected to boost Air Force productivity, allowing nearly 80% of personnel previously used in 1:1 worker monitoring to

Health care workers say it’s getting harder to get paid time off for COVID

As a part-time nurse at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Megan Murphy has twice been forced to take a leave from work this summer while waiting to get tested for COVID-19.

On both occasions, Murphy had good reason to believe she’d been exposed to the virus and stayed home, as required by hospital policies, to limit spread of the disease. Each time, it took four to five days to line up an appointment and get the results.

Both tests came back negative. But a snafu delayed the results of Murphy’s first test and left her without enough paid time off to cover her second leave. As a result, she lost two days’ pay and has no sick time left.

“I’m still going to be honest” in disclosing future exposures, she said. “But my concern is, what happens when people can’t afford to have two days unpaid, and they no longer acknowledge that they have symptoms or have been exposed because they can’t afford to miss work?”

Murphy’s predicament is one many health care workers face as COVID continues to spread. While policies vary depending on the hospital, some workers say it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get paid for time off if they feel potential symptoms or have risky exposures.

At Allina Health facilities, workers get can get 14 days of paid leave for COVID-19 — if they test positive. M Health Fairview employees can get paid for all shifts missed — if the exposure happened at work.

“We pay employees for all time missed due to a workplace exposure,” M Health Fairview spokeswoman Aimee Jordan said. “We trust that employees who feel symptomatic will not come to work because of their commitment to patients and the care they provide.”

The issue inspired worker demonstrations at two hospitals last week by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and is driving the Minnesota Nurses Association to support state legislation to address it.

State House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said a bill slated to be introduced in the House and Senate on Monday would require hospitals and nursing homes to give paid time off to health care workers who need to go on leave for COVID testing and quarantine.

It would complement a law passed in April that stipulated COVID-19 infections among health care workers are presumed to be occupation-related for the purposes of workers’ compensation.

“People who are working to protect us and provide health care have no choice but to be exposed. [They] shouldn’t also have the financial exposure of missing work,” Winkler said. “They need their income just like everybody else does.”

State data show that health care workers — those in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and elsewhere — comprise more than 10% of all the state’s lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. State data say 80% of health care worker exposures tracked by the state are classified as occupation-related.

There is evidence that occupational exposures are less risky than other kinds. Minnesota contact tracing shows that as of August, less than 2% of

Advocating for Nursing Home Workers in Pandemic

Nursing home workers face a higher risk for COVID-19 than most Americans, providing essential care in hazardous conditions and at lower pay than they deserve, says David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. Giving them a living wage, decent benefits and adequate personal protective equipment is not only the right thing to do, it would help keep long-term care residents safer amid the pandemic, too, he says.

Grabowski, whose “day job” is doing research on the U.S. long-term care system, says it’s time to rethink the underlying structure of nursing home reimbursement.

Since the pandemic began, Grabowski has taken on a slew of new roles: serving on a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services task force called the Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes, testifying twice before Congress and writing op-eds aimed at advancing the cause of nursing home workers and residents alike.

Thanks to COVID-19, nursing home workers now have the most dangerous job in America, Grabowski and co-authors declared in a July 28 opinion piece in the Washington Post. Using CMS nursing home data, they determined that more than 200 COVID-19 related fatalities will occur per 100,000 nursing home workers if overall deaths continue at their current pace over a full year.

For their brave and selfless response in continuing to work in an already physically and emotionally demanding job – now with the added danger of coronavirus exposure – nursing home workers like nurses, certified nursing assistants and support staff should receive national hazard pay, Grabowski and co-authors argued.

Direct care staff at nursing homes also need access to good-quality personal protective equipment to prevent virus transmission, free access to coronavirus testing and the ability to make choices about when to stay home when they’re sick without fear of income loss, they added.

Grabowski’s career direction was shaped almost serendipitously when he was a Duke University undergrad in the early 1990s. “I had an adviser who said, ‘We should think about this as a project for your senior thesis,’” he recalls. “To be honest, I really knew nothing about long-term care or nursing homes. I ended up doing the project and it was everything that interested me about economics and public policy – only more so.”

The challenges faced by long-term care facilities, residents and caregivers soon captured Grabowski’s attention. “I ended up doing my dissertation on Medicaid payment and nursing home quality,” he says, Since then, he adds, “Basically, I’ve been doing this research on this area without realizing we would ever have this kind of pandemic and this kind of situation.”

Location – of the nursing home itself and where workers live in the surrounding area – plays an important role in the COVID-19 outbreaks, according to studies conducted nationwide. That includes findings on Cleveland, Detroit and New York City from Grabowski and colleagues, published June 24 in JAMA.

In June, Grabowski was named to the CMS task force to help

Coronavirus outbreak at Vermont apple orchard sickens dozens of migrant workers

An outbreak of the novel coronavirus at an apple orchard in Vermont has sickened dozens, according to a local report.

The outbreak has been reported among migrant workers at Champlain Orchards, an apple orchard in Shoreham. As of Monday, at least 26 workers had tested positive for COVID-19, said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, the VTDigger reported.

At least one worker has been hospitalized, while the others are largely asymptomatic, according to a local report.

At least one worker has been hospitalized, while the others are largely asymptomatic, according to a local report.
(iStock)

“The outbreak is contained to the farm, and I want to emphasize, there is no known risk to the public,” he said, noting that those who visited the farm stand or picked apples at the orchard were not considered to be at risk, as the orchard followed state health guidelines and the workers did not come into close contact with any visitors.

The outbreak was reported among workers who had traveled to the state in September from Jamaica under the H-2A visa program, the outlet reported. The first positive case among the workers was reported on Oct. 1, toward the end of the workers’ 14-day quarantine.

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK AT NORTH CAROLINA HAIR SALON TIED TO AT LEAST 1 DEATH

The orchard was subsequently closed and the state health officials were notified. The workers have been tested at least twice following the first positive case.

OKLAHOMA CORONAVIRUS HOSPITALIZATIONS HIT RECORD HIGH FOR STATE

At least one worker has been hospitalized, while the others are largely asymptomatic, according to the VTDigger.

“I have seen various facilities, businesses, travelers ethnic groups, and other groups face stigma over the course of this pandemic, and I call on Vermonters again to focus on the disease, and how to keep it at bay where we can, rather than creating fear or rumors,” Levine said when urging residents against stigmatizing those who have tested positive, per the VTDigger.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE 

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Texas Health Care Workers Urged To Get Immunized Ahead Of Vaccine

AUSTIN, TX — Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday urged Texas health care providers to secure immunizations in order to be able to administer vaccines for the coronavirus once they are available.

To that end, health care providers are urged to enroll in the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Immunization Program. Hospitals, medical practices, pharmacies, and long-term care facilities that want to participate are required to enroll as vaccine providers at EnrollTexasIZ.dshs.texas.gov to administer COVID-19 immunizations in Texas, the governor noted.

“While potential COVID-19 vaccines continue to undergo clinical trials, the State of Texas is taking a proactive approach to ensure the vaccine is distributed as quickly as possible once available,” Abbott said in a prepared statement. “Providing Texans with access to a voluntary vaccine and efficiently administering the immunization will be essential to containing COVID-19 and protecting the health of our communities. I urge health care providers across the state to sign up for DSHS’ Immunization Program so they are prepared to administer the COVID-vaccine to Texans who choose to be immunized.”

While vaccine production ramps up, Abbott added, the supply will be limited and provided to critical populations such as health care workers or people at a higher risk of severe disease. As more doses become available, the governor said, more of the enrolled providers will begin to receive vaccine for the people they serve.

Doses of the voluntary COVID-19 vaccine and the supplies needed to administer the immunization will be provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and shipped directly to providers after they are allocated by DSHS.

Under federal guidelines, providers who choose to participate must agree to administer vaccine regardless of a recipient’s ability to pay, provide a vaccination record to each recipient, store doses of vaccine under the proper conditions, and report the number of doses received and used. Any vaccine must be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration before it can be distributed in the United States. DSHS will host opportunities for public comment and provide more information about vaccine distribution as it becomes available.

For more information on the DSHS Immunization Program, visit the Immunization Program Portal.

This article originally appeared on the Austin Patch

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Vermont battling Covid-19 at an apple orchard among migrant workers

Vermont is battling a Covid-19 outbreak among migrant workers at an apple orchard, state officials announced Monday.



a sign on the side of the street: 16528985: Vermont Orchards Covid Outbreak


© WCAX
16528985: Vermont Orchards Covid Outbreak

Champlain Orchards in Addison County had 27 workers test positive over the weekend, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said on Tuesday. The commissioner had previously announced 26 cases, with one more test result being reported after the initial announcement.

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The first positive case was discovered last week. It came toward the end of the migrant workers’ quarantine period after arriving in the state in mid-September, and the person is believed to have become ill outside of Vermont, according to Dr. Levine.

State officials said that the orchard owner was complying with guidance and that apples were disinfected before being sold. The apples are sold in Vermont, parts of Massachusetts and in upstate New York and New Jersey, according to the orchard’s website.

As the coronavirus is a respiratory virus, the CDC has said that there is “no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.”

“The orchard owners and state agencies are working to make sure these workers have what they need — food, shelter and other things to isolate safely,” Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said in a news conference.

“In light of recent national events, I hardly need to remind Vermonters of the nature of the virus. People do not get sick because they are from a certain place, ethnicity or nationality — they get sick if they are exposed to the virus.”

Vermont has had the fewest Covid-19 cases of any state, with only 1,821 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. The state saw no Covid-related deaths or ICU admissions in September, according to state Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak.

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After Meat Workers Die of Covid-19, Families Fight for Compensation

After Saul Sanchez tested positive for the coronavirus at a hospital in Greeley, Colo., he spoke to his daughter on the phone and asked her to relay a message to his supervisors at work.

“Please call JBS and let them know I’m in the hospital,” his daughter Beatriz Rangel remembered him as saying. “Let them know I will be back.”

The meat-processing company JBS had employed Mr. Sanchez, 78, at its plant in Greeley for three decades. He was one of at least 291 people there who tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

On April 7, Mr. Sanchez became one of at least six employees at the plant to die of Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. “My dad was a very hardworking, happy-go-lucky, selfless person,” Ms. Rangel said. “It’s a great loss.”

Now Ms. Rangel, 53, is in the middle of a new struggle. Hers is one of several families of JBS employees in Greeley seeking compensation for a death caused by Covid-19. The company has denied her family’s claim, as well as at least two others, according to lawyers representing the families who are now taking those claims to court.

Those denials, first reported by Reuters, offered a view of the difficulties faced by families of essential workers who have fallen ill or died because of the coronavirus, many of whom are struggling to cover medical or funeral costs.

“We just have a stack of bills, and I think it’s really taken a toll on my mom, because my dad used to be the one handling all the finances,” Ms. Rangel said.

Across the United States, more than 100 meat-processing plants operated by different companies, including Smithfield and Tyson, have had outbreaks of Covid-19, in part because of crowded working conditions. So far, more than 44,000 meatpacking workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 200 have died, according to the Food & Environment Report Network, which has been tracking the outbreak.

Workers’ compensation has traditionally been used to address on-the-job injuries — not fatalities tied to a pandemic that has disrupted millions of lives and killed more than 200,000 people in the United States. Tracing the exact origins of individual infections can be difficult, which appears to have given JBS an avenue to deny compensation claims on the grounds that the illnesses were not necessarily work related.

“It is my understanding that JBS was stating that the workers didn’t contract Covid at the plant,” said Kim Cordova, the president of the local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a union that represents many JBS employees.

“I think that it’s just further proof that these companies put profit over people, and that they have treated these poor essential workers as disposable or sacrificial human beings for the sake of production or profit,” she added.

Nikki Richardson, a spokeswoman for JBS USA, said in an email that “the worker’s compensation claim denials were

About 200 workers infected with coronavirus at MOL’s new Hungarian plant

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – About 200 workers have been infected with coronavirus at Hungarian energy group MOL’s <MOLB.BU> polyol plant being built in the eastern town of Tiszaujvaros, MOL’s petrochemicals unit wrote in a letter to the town’s mayor.

A press official for MOL confirmed the authenticity of the letter, dated Oct. 5 and published by the mayor on Facebook.

The letter said the 200 infected workers have been quarantined and had no symptoms. MOL said work at the construction site was ongoing with reduced staff levels.

The $1.3 billion plant, built by Germany’s ThyssenKrupp <TKAG.DE>, will make MOL the only integrated producer of polyether polyols in Central and Eastern Europe.

The compounds are needed for products in the automotive, construction, packaging and furniture industries.

MOL said in the letter it was testing its blue-collar staff for coronavirus every two to three weeks and expected to test all white-collar workers by the end of this month. MOL said it expected subcontractors to test their staff as well.

As of Tuesday, Hungary reported 32,298 coronavirus cases with 853 deaths and 8,723 recoveries. New cases have spiked in the past weeks and the 20 deaths registered on Tuesday were the highest since the start of the pandemic.

(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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Some Health Workers Suffering From Addiction Steal Drugs Meant For Patients : NPR

The federal government estimates one in 10 healthcare workers experience substance use disorder. There is rising concern that medical professionals are stealing powerful opioid pain medications meant for their patients.

Kaz Fantone/NPR


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Kaz Fantone/NPR

The federal government estimates one in 10 healthcare workers experience substance use disorder. There is rising concern that medical professionals are stealing powerful opioid pain medications meant for their patients.

Kaz Fantone/NPR

When Kristin Waite-Labott, a nurse in Wisconsin, began stealing fentanyl and morphine from her hospital’s medical supply cabinets, she found it was relatively easy to cover her tracks.

Her drug inventory paperwork often didn’t add up, but she found coworkers willing to cover for her.

“They trusted me” she said. “Unfortunately I was taking advantage of that trust and that happens all the time.”

But Waite-Labott’s addiction to fentanyl quickly spiraled out of control.

“Taking it one time, I instantly craved more. It’s so powerful and deadly,” she said.

Waite-Labott eventually lost her job and spent time in jail before entering recovery and regaining her nursing license.

She works now helping other health workers who struggle with addiction and says she’s still haunted by the thought of patients she might have harmed.

“I don’t know that I made any errors,” she said. “But I can’t be certain of that because I was under the influence at work.”

NPR found a growing number of health industry experts and researchers who warn this kind of on-the-job drug theft by health workers may be increasing.

“It’s extremely common and the consequences can be very very grave,” said Kimberly New, an expert on medical drug misuse, known in the industry as diversion.

Patients in pain, patients taking contaminated medications

Harm to patients from drug diversion can be severe. In extreme cases, health workers divert so much medication, patients wind up undergoing cancer treatments or post-surgical recovery without pain relief.

“Patients will be left to linger in pain and not receive the doses that they were supposed to receive,” New said. “The diverter has progressed to the point where they’re no longer willing to share with the patients.”

Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mayo Clinic also found healthcare workers who steal drugs frequently tamper with medications, leaving them contaminated.

“I go and take a fentanyl vial, I administer the entire vial to myself and I refill the vial with water,” New said, describing a typical scenario. “Unfortunately many patients have been infected with blood-born pathogens.”

The Mayo Clinic study found as many as 28,000 hospital patients were put at risk of contracting Hepatitis C over a 10-year period because of this kind of drug theft and tampering.

Last year, physicians at a Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y., reported six of their patients contracted a rare bacterial blood infection after a nurse replaced opioid medications with tap water.

“We share our experience to alert health care providers,” the doctors wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine

Covid-19 can afflict the powerful. Yet food workers remain the most vulnerable.

Amid this reality, Tyson Foods recently announced a plan to open medical clinics at several of its U.S. plants. Coupled with the addition of 200 nurses and administrative positions in the company’s health services team, executives claim these plans will help “promote a culture of health” among workers. With the new initiative, Tyson joins a growing list of companies with on-the-job medical providers.

But our nation’s history suggests that worksite clinics may do more harm than good, further harming worker health. The U.S. meat and poultry industry has a long history of obstructing worker access to medical care and workers’ compensation benefits and has failed to provide adequate worksite medical treatment.

At the dawn of the 20th century, as the U.S. economy industrialized, workplace injuries in manufacturing were commonplace. Injured workers did not have a right to the free medical treatment, wage replacement for lost work time or permanent disability benefits that would later be protected by the workers’ compensation system. Instead, courts decided whether employers bore any responsibility for work-related injuries and deaths. Employers easily and swiftly contested their liability, leaving tremendous burdens on workers’ families and communities.

During this period, to avoid costly liability lawsuits, several companies hired doctors to treat manufacturing worker injuries in-house. These “industrial physicians,” as they became known, also redesigned plant layouts and operations. Their efforts prevented workplace injuries, but they also enabled more stringent personnel management and surveillance and prioritized production efficiency. By allowing direct control over diagnoses and duration of treatment, corporations’ provision of medical care became a mechanism for surveilling and controlling workers and reducing labor costs.

In 1906, Upton Sinclair’s famed “The Jungle” shocked readers with its description of dangerous working conditions and industrial accidents in Chicago’s meatpacking industry. Incidents like the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, in which 150 workers perished after being locked inside, further raised consciousness about the plights faced by workers and the need to address occupational health and safety hazards. Captivated and alarmed, a moral discourse on workplace injury and illness began to take shape among the American public. “As the work is done for the employer, and therefore ultimately for the public,” remarked President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 “it is a bitter injustice that it should be the wageworker himself and his wife and children who bear the whole penalty. ”

A compromise among business and labor interests led to the passage of state-based workers’ compensation legislation beginning in 1911. The “grand bargain,” as it became known, protected employers from liability lawsuits and, in exchange, promised workers access to independent medical care and limited compensation for their temporary and permanent disabilities. Within a decade nearly every state had a system of workers’ compensation, though they were vastly uneven and inadequate and would remain so for decades to come.

A commission convened by President Nixon discovered as much a half-century later, finding that in 1970, 34 states did not meet even half of the workers’ compensation standards prescribed by the newly created Occupational Safety and