Thursday, July 2, 2020

Hurricane Preparedness: Is Your Workplace Ready?

"Forecasters predict the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will be more active than usual and the Pacific Hurricane season is already active. Now is the time to prepare for severe weather and hurricanes. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has resources to help ensure workers and employers have the necessary equipment and know-how to stay safe when a hurricane occurs.
Planning Before, During and After a Storm
Employers need to have a plan in place and ensure workers know to execute it. Plans should include proper places to take shelter, policies to ensure all workers are accounted for and procedures to address on-site hazards. Here are some things you can do to prepare:
  • Determine your risk. Hurricanes can bring many risks to coastlines and inland areas, including storm surges, flooding, tornadoes, rip currents and strong winds. Find out what types of wind and water hazards could happen in your area, then begin preparations to handle them.
  • Develop an evacuation plan. Before a severe weather emergency occurs, determine if you work in a hurricane evacuation zone, and identify where to go and how to get there. Keep a copy of your plan in a safe place where you can access it in an emergency.
  • Maintain a personal protective equipment (PPE) or supply kit. Assess your workplace hazards, select, train and ensure workers use appropriate PPE. Create an emergency kit with items such as gloves and eye protection, batteries and chargers, and flashlights. If you need to seek public shelter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends bringing at least two cloth face coverings for each person and, if possible, hand sanitizer due to COVID-19.
  • Stay aware. Listen to your local weather forecasts and warnings, and follow instructions issued by local officials. Check the websites of your local National Weather Service office and emergency management office. Find out what type of weather emergencies could occur and how you should respond. If evacuation orders are issued, leave immediately.
  • Evaluate and monitor exposure to hazards. After a severe weather emergency or hurricane, evaluate the work site to identify if safety or health hazards are present, including; fall, electrocution, noise, cut/laceration hazards; high ambient temperatures; hazardous substances; or infectious materials. Drive only if necessary, and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges..."

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Trafficking in Persons: 2020


 This year marks a major milestone—the 20th anniversary of the TIP Report. Twenty years ago, when the United States Congress passed the TVPA mandating this report, it signaled the U.S. government’s resolve to fight human trafficking and marked a pivot from indignation to positive action. Whether used to raise awareness, spark dialogue, spur action, or create a system of accountability, the TIP Report has served to reinforce global anti-trafficking norms and ideals. At a time when many governments denied the existence of human trafficking in all its forms, the TIP Report became a standard-bearer for the principles enshrined in the TVPA and the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol (Palermo Protocol).

Throughout the last two decades, and as the availability of information on human trafficking has expanded, the TIP Report has grown in both its breadth and depth of analysis. It has consistently documented the efforts of an increasing number of governments to prosecute traffickers, protect victims, and prevent human trafficking crimes. The report has drawn attention to trends and emerging issues, highlighted promising practices, and tracked the progression of important developments, such as the passage of comprehensive anti-trafficking laws and improvements in victim identification efforts..."

Understanding the Fair Labor Standards Act: Tools for Workers and Employers

"For 82 years, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has protected America’s workers by establishing minimum wage, overtime and child labor standards. While many current occupations of American workers didn’t exist when the FLSA was signed on June 25, 1938, the law is still a critical tool for ensuring workers receive the pay they earned and creating a level playing field for employers to compete.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division enforces the FLSA and provides many resources that help workers and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under the FLSA. Here are a few everyone should know:

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

"Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones during a thunderstorm. Being outside when lightning is present is not something to take lightly—ever.
The weather forecast calls for a slight chance of thunderstorms, but you can only see a few fluffy white clouds overhead. So you and your tennis partner grab your racquets and balls and head for the tennis court. You spend a few minutes warming up and then—wait! Is that thunder you hear? Was that a lightning flash?
What do you do? Keep playing until the thunder and lightning get closer? Go sit on the metal bench under the trees to see what happens? Or get in your car and drive home?
Correct answer: If no substantial, non-concrete shelter is nearby, get in your car and wait out the storm.
Why? Because being outside when lightning is present is not something to take lightly—ever.

Risks of Lightning Strikes

Although the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are less than 1 in a million, some factors can put you at greater risk. Lightning most often strikes people who work outside or engage in outdoor recreational activities. Regional and seasonal differences can also affect your risk of being injured by lightning.
In 2019, Florida and Texas had the most lightning deathsexternal icon. Florida is considered the “lightning capital” of the country, with more than 2,000 lightning injuries over the past 50 years.
The consequences of lightning strikes are serious. Lightning is one of the leading causes of weather-related fatalities. From 2009–2018, lightning caused an average of average of 27 deathsexternal icon per year in the United States..."

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Conducting Research on Federal Real Property: A Guide to Selected Resources

"This report is designed to introduce congressional staff to selected sources published by the General Services Administration (GSA) that may be useful in conducting research on federal real property—land, buildings, and structures owned, operated, or leased by the federal government—in a particular geographic area. Sources include the Federal Real Property Profile Data set for civilian and noncivilian agencies, the Federal Real Property Map, GSA Lease Inventory, Federal Real Property Summary Reports, Inventory of Leased and Owned Properties, and several real property disposal resources..."
Conducting research on federal property

“No-Knock” Warrants and Other Law Enforcement Identification Considerations

"In the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd while in police custody, some Members of Congress have expressed interest in passing legislation that would alter the policing practices of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers. One set of practices addressed in recently introduced reform legislation concerns law enforcement identification. The issue has arisen in at least two recent contexts. First, reports of federal law enforcement officers responding to protest activity without displaying badges or other identifying information have prompted questions about whether police may forego such identification when acting in an official capacity in public. Second, questions have arisen as to when officers are required to identify themselves before entering a home when executing a search warrant. An issue of particular focus in this context has been so-called “no-knock” warrants—that is, warrants that permit law enforcement officers to enter a home without the need to identify their authority and purpose beforehand. In one case that has received renewed attention, a Louisville woman named Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her home by police during execution of such a warrant..."
"No-Knock" warrants

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

FDA advises consumers not to use hand sanitizer products manufactured by Eskbiochem

" FDA advises consumers not to use any hand sanitizer manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico, due to the potential presence of methanol (wood alcohol), a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. FDA has identified the following products manufactured by Eskbiochem:
  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)
FDA tested samples of Lavar Gel and CleanCare No Germ. Lavar Gel contains 81 percent (v/v) methanol and no ethyl alcohol, and CleanCare No Germ contains 28 percent (v/v) methanol. Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects.
Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk, young children who accidently ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk for methanol poisoning..."
FDA and hand sanitizers

Monday, June 22, 2020

Tetanus Vaccination

"Tetanus is an uncommon but very serious disease caused by spores of bacteria found in the environment. Make sure you and your loved ones are up to date with their tetanus vaccine so you can enjoy being outdoors safely.
Several vaccines protect against tetanus, all of which also protect against other diseases:
  • DTaP protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough)
  • DT protects against diphtheria and tetanus
  • Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis
  • Td protects against tetanus and diphtheria

CDC Recommends Tetanus Vaccines for People of All Ages

The vaccine recommended for someone depends on their age. The graphic below gives information, by age, about CDC’s tetanus vaccine recommendations.
Tetanus vaccines for DTaP, Tdap, and Td.
This graphicimage icon highlights CDC’s tetanus vaccination recommendations for young children, preteens, and adults.
Children who should not get vaccines that contain whooping cough can receive DT for protection against diphtheria and tetanus. Talk to a doctor if you have questions about tetanus vaccines.

Tetanus Vaccines Are Safe

Most people who get a tetanus vaccine do not have any serious problems with it. However, side effects can occur. Most side effects are mild, meaning they do not affect daily activities. See the vaccine information statement for each vaccine to learn more about the most common side effects..."

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Supreme Court Rules Title VII Bars Discrimination Against Gay and Transgender Employees: Potential Implications

"On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court issued a decision in a series of cases brought by gay and transgender workers alleging that their employers violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) by discriminating against them “because of . . . sex.” The Court held 6-3 in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia that Title VII forbids employers from firing an individual for being gay or transgender. The Court’s decision in Bostock was consolidated with two other cases, Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC. (An earlier Sidebar addresses lower courtdecisions in these cases and provides further background on Title VII.)

This Sidebar explains the Court’s holding in Bostock and highlights some potential implications of the decision for other areas of the law, including the “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ) exception in Title VII; constitutional exceptions and religious-based exemptions to Title VII; various aspects of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX); and statutes that incorporate Title IX’s requirements, such as the Affordable Care Act..."
Supreme Court, gays and transgender

COVID-19 and the Banking Industry: Risks and Policy Responses

"The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused widespread economic disruption. Millions of businesses were forced to shut down and unemployment soared. The weakened economic conditions are likely to have implications for the financial system, including for banks and the banking industry. Many bank assets are loans to households and businesses, and banks rely on the inflow of repayments on those loans to make profits and meet their obligations to depositors and creditors. If repayments suddenly decline, banks can become distressed and potentially fail. Bank failures can be especially disruptive to the economy because they remove an important credit source for communities, and the financial system can become unstable if failures are widespread. Banks can absorb unanticipated losses on loans, to a point, by writing down the value of the capital. Thus, two key factors in how well banks weather the adverse economic effects of COVID-19 are (1) how concentrated their assets are in loans to households and businesses, and (2) how much capital they hold to absorb losses.

Bank data reported as of December 31, 2019, suggest the industry as a whole is relatively well-positioned, compared with recent history, to endure losses on household and business loans. In general, banks hold high levels of capital, largely due to changes in bank regulation and behavior made in response to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. However, certain segments of the industry, such as banks holding high concentrations of household loans, business loans, or both, are more exposed to losses and have less capital relative to those exposures than the industry as a whole. For example, household and business loans make up more than 70% of total assets for 535 banks (roughly, about 1 in 10 banks). These banks, on average, have less capital buffer relative to the size of those loans than most banks. By one metric, 87 banks are in danger of becoming seriously distressed..."
COVID-19 and banking

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Keep Food “Cool for the Summer” to Avoid Foodborne Illness

"One of the best things about the summer is finally getting to enjoy the warm weather outside, Backyard barbecues and picnics for you and your household can be a great way to get outside while staying safe. But rising temperatures can also bring food safety risks. During warm weather it’s even more important to make sure your food is safe by keeping it “cool for the summer.”
Normally, perishable foods can be left out for only two hours before they need to be chilled or discarded. This keeps your food out of the danger zone of temperatures between 40 and 140°F, where germs that cause foodborne illness can grow rapidly. In the summer, hot and humid weather creates an ideal environment for bacteria to grow more quickly. When the temperature outside is above 90°F, food is only safe outside for one hour. If you’re planning on spending hours in the sun, then follow these tips to keep your food safe.

Cool Tip #1: Bring on the Cold

When you’re serving food outside, extra cold sources are a must to keep everything cool. Pack coolers with bags of ice, gel packs, or even frozen water bottles so that your food will stay cold and safe for as long as possible. Keep an appliance thermometer in your cooler to make sure your food is kept below 40°F.
Cool Tip #2: Pack It Tight
Full coolers will keep your perishable foods cold and safe for much longer than half-full ones. Stock up your coolers before you go outside so that you can keep everything at a safe temperature all day long. If you don’t fill your cooler with food, fill the rest with extra ice. You can also pack foods when they are frozen to maintain a cold temperature for your snacks, even when it’s hot outside.

Cool Tip #3: Open and Close It Quick

When you’re having fun in the sun, you may want a nice, cold drink to stay cool. Because beverage coolers tend to be opened more frequently, keep your drinks in a separate cooler from your perishable foods. For snacks, only take out what you need, and keep the rest chilling for later. Never leave your cooler open for long.

Cool Tip #4: When in Doubt, Throw It Out

The last thing you want to bring inside from the outdoors is a case of foodborne illness. If your food has been out for a while, it may not be safe to repack and eat later. Don’t hesitate to throw away any food that has been left out in the sun for too long. Keep coolers in the shade so they can stay cool and keep your food cool, too.."
Foodborne illness

Monday, June 15, 2020

RMSF: deadly, but preventable

"Do you know about Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), the most deadly tickborne disease in the world?
Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a serious, sometimes deadly, bacterial disease spread through the bite of an infected tick.
  • Roughly 4,000-6,000 tickborne spotted fevers, including RMSF, are reported in the United States each year.
  • More than 60% of reported RMSF cases occur in five states (North Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri).
  • While the majority of RMSF cases occur during summer months, ticks can still bite you during the spring, fall, or even year-round in warmer climates.

Signs and Symptoms

Early signs of RMSF are often non-specific with symptoms such as fever and headache. RMSF can progress to a serious and life-threatening illness in days. Early signs and symptoms may include:
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Rash, usually occurs around days 2-5
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Lack of appetite


  • Doxycycline is the treatment of choice for adults and children of all ages with suspected RMSF as recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatricsexternal icon.
  • If treated in the first 5 days with doxycycline, people with RMSF typically recover. While those treated after day 5 of illness may experience a more severe illness requiring hospitalization, or intensive care.
  • When left untreated, the bacteria can cause damage to blood vessels throughout the body leading to organ and tissue damage.
  • RMSF can be fatal, even in previously healthy people. If not treated correctly, death can often occur within eight days of symptoms starting.
  • People who do recover from serious RMSF infections may be left with life-altering damage, including amputation of arms, legs, fingers, or toes (from lack of blood flow), hearing loss, paralysis, or mental disability..."
    Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Larger Businesses and COVID-19: Financial Relief and Assistance Resources

"This CRS Insight presents selected resources and CRS products potentially relevant to medium and large businesses directly affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic seeking economic relief and assistance.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted on March 27, 2020, contains provisions to assist businesses. This Insight focuses on potential sources of assistance designated for medium and large businesses that do not qualify for Small Business Administration programs or other assistance programs for small businesses. For small business assistance programs, see CRS Insight IN11301, Small Businesses and COVID-19: Relief and Assistance Resources, by Maria Kreiser.

Note that this Insight may not include every instance of federal assistance to medium or large firms provided in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Firms of this size may have, on occasion, received funding via other CARES Act mechanisms or facilities. These firms’ eligibility for this other funding may be due to factors or combinations of factors such as the structure of particular programs, how the firm is organized, or situations involving a specific industry..."
Large businesses and COVID-19

Deciding to Go Out Venturing Out? Be Prepared and Stay Safe

"As communities and businesses are opening, you may be looking for ways to resume some daily activities as safely as possible. While there is no way to ensure zero risk of infection, it is important to understand potential risks and how to adopt different types of prevention measures to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. As a reminder, if you have COVID-19, have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, it is important to stay home and away from other people. When you can leave home and be around others depends on different factors for different situations. Follow CDC’s recommendations for your circumstances.
In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. So, think about:
  • How many people will you interact with?
    • Interacting with more people raises your risk.
    • Being in a group with people who aren’t social distancing or wearing cloth face coverings increases your risk.
    • Engaging with new people (e.g., those who don’t live with you) also raises your risk.
    • Some people have the virus and don’t have any symptoms, and it is not yet known how often people without symptoms can transmit the virus to others.
  • Can you keep 6 feet of space between you and others? Will you be outdoors or indoors?
    • The closer you are to other people who may be infected, the greater your risk of getting sick.
    • Keeping distance from other people is especially important for people who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with underlying medical conditions.
    • Indoor spaces are more risky than outdoor spaces where it might be harder to keep people apart and there’s less ventilation.
  • What’s the length of time that you will be interacting with people?
    • Spending more time with people who may be infected increases your risk of becoming infected.
    • Spending more time with people increases their risk of becoming infected if there is any chance that you may already be infected..."
      COVID-19 and venturing out

Opinion of the Court by Chief Justice Earl Warren in the Case of Miranda v. Arizona, 06/13/1966

"In this milestone decision, the Supreme Court established the rights of criminal suspects during police interrogations, including the right to an attorney and the right against self-incrimination.." 
Miranda v Arizona