Cumulative trauma by the overuse of disinfectants will result in many General Liability & Workers’ Comp. claims. There is a better way.©
“It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. Read the entire label before using the product. Pre-Clean surfaces prior to use To Disinfect: Surfaces must remain wet for 3 Minutes then allowed to air dry”
These are the words on the back of a can of the number one brand of disinfectant and sanitizer (there is a difference). Who actually does this?
Many chemicals can, when properly used, significantly contribute to the improvement of our quality of life, health, and well-being. But other chemicals are highly hazardous and can negatively affect our health and environment when improperly managed. The same chemicals you rely on to keep your employees, customers, and facilities safe, could also be causing long term irreparable harm.
It is often the dose and exposure to these chemicals that determine its impact on our health and environment. The type of exposure and the duration of exposure are both critical elements to consider.
Type of antimicrobial that (according to EPA specifications) kills or irreversibly inactivates at least 99.9 percent of all bacteria, fungi, and viruses (called microbials, micro biologicals, microorganisms) present on a surface. Most sanitizers are based on toxic chemicals such as chlorine, iodine, phenol, or quaternary ammonium compounds, and which (unlike some antiseptics) may never be taken internally.
Type of antimicrobial that kills (or irreversibly inactivates) all bacteria, fungi, and viruses (called microbials, micro biologicals, or microorganisms), but not necessarily their spores (reproductive bodies). Examples are high concentration of oxidants such as bleach, chlorine, hydrogen peroxide; or biocides such as chlroxylenole (‘Dettol’), cresol, hexachlorophane, phenol; or physical agents such as high temperature, steam, ultraviolet rays. Disinfectants also kill innocuous or helpful microorganisms, most are poisons and (unlike some antibiotics or antiseptics) may never be taken internally.
When most people utilize these cleaning agents:
- They do not understand how to use them with efficacy
- They do not read the directions
- They do not know the tolerances they have for these chemicals.
- They do not know that these chemicals can cause all kinds of maladies.
OSHA 3512 Protecting Workers Who Use Cleaning Chemicals:
Chemicals in some cleaning products can be irritating to the skin or can cause rashes. Cleaning products that contain corrosive chemicals can cause severe burns if splashed on the skin or in the eyes. Mists, vapors and/or gases from cleaning chemicals can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Symptoms may include burning eyes, sore throat, coughing, trouble breathing and wheezing. Chemicals in some cleaning products can cause asthma or trigger asthma attacks. Some cleaning products contain hazardous chemicals that can enter the body through skin contact or from breathing gases into the lungs. Mixing cleaning products that contain bleach and ammonia can cause severe lung damage or death.
Everyday Chemicals Created Toxic Fumes That Killed Buffalo Wild Wings Manager
These cases will definitely continue due to the sheer scale of use of these cleaning products. The Pandemic cleaning rates are up over 12 times over usages this time last year. This equates to the use rate of disinfecting products of one 2019 year in ONE month in the “New Normal” of 2020/2021.
How will this affect the employees, patrons and vendors of all of these business establishments?
- Premises Liabilities will expand due to the types of exposure and the duration of exposure. There is no end in sight.
- General Liability Losses will be forthcoming for extended periods and need to be addressed by the Insurance Business Enterprise staff to be ready for these claims.
- Workers’ Compensation claims are statutory coverages not torts like General Liability claims.
- Third-Party Over Actions will penetrate the General Liability and Excess coverages.
- To assess whether there might be a possible association between COVID-19 cleaning recommendations from public health agencies and the media and the number of chemical exposures reported to the National Poison Data System (NPDS), CDC and the American Association of Poison Control Centers surveillance team compared the number of exposures reported for the period January–March 2020 with the number of reports during the same 3-month period in 2018 and 2019. Fifty-five poison centers in the United States provide free, 24-hour professional advice and medical management information regarding exposures to poisons, chemicals, drugs, and medications. Call data from poison centers are uploaded in near real-time to NPDS. During January–March 2020, poison centers received 45,550 exposure calls related to cleaners (28,158) and disinfectants (17,392), representing overall increases of 20.4% and 16.4% from January–March 2019 (37,822) and January–March 2018 (39,122), respectively. Although NPDS data do not provide information showing a definite link between exposures and COVID-19 cleaning efforts, there appears to be a clear temporal association with the increased use of these products.
- The daily number of calls to poison centers increased sharply at the beginning of March 2020 for exposures to both cleaners and disinfectants (Figure). The increase in total calls was seen across all age groups; however, exposures among children aged ≤5 years consistently represented a large percentage of total calls in the 3-month study period for each year (range = 39.9%–47.3%) (Table). Further analysis of the increase in calls from 2019 to 2020 (3,137 for cleaners, 4,591 for disinfectants), showed that among all cleaner categories, bleaches accounted for the largest percentage of the increase (1,949; 62.1%), whereas nonalcohol disinfectants (1,684; 36.7%) and hand sanitizers (1,684; 36.7%) accounted for the largest percentages of the increase among disinfectant categories. Inhalation represented the largest percentage increase from 2019 to 2020 among all exposure routes, with an increase of 35.3% (from 4,713 to 6,379) for all cleaners and an increase of 108.8% (from 569 to 1,188) for all disinfectants. Two illustrative case charts are presented to highlight the types of chemical exposure calls managed by poison centers.
What are the financial implications of continuous long-term use of the chemical cleaning agents?
Let’s start with the OSHA Requirements which can have financial consequences.
Recording workplace exposures to COVID-19
COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected because of performing their work-related duties. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following are true:
- The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see CDC information on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19);
- The case is work-related (as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5); and When are people not at work when so many work from home? This presents the 24-hour exposure.
- The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g., medical treatment beyond first aid, days away from work).
Visit OSHA’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements page for more information.
Employers must also protect their workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals used for cleaning and disinfection. Employers should be aware that common sanitizers and sterilizers could contain hazardous chemicals. Where workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals, employers must comply with OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910.1200), Personal Protective Equipment standards (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I, and, in construction, 29 CFR 1926 Subpart E), and other applicable OSHA chemical standards.
Recommend reading: https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework.
Is overuse of these everyday products causing cumulative trauma?
Time will tell.
From: NYU Mt Sinai/Selikoff Centers for Occupational Health
One particular ingredient that has received more attention recently as a cause of asthma is the class of chemicals known as quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs). Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides (BACs) are one type of QACs that has been implicated in causing adverse health effects.
Use of QACs:
QACs are disinfectants used alone or added to cleaning products. Manufacturers have added them to dishwashing liquids, hand soaps, window cleaners, “all-purpose” cleaners, floor products, baby-care products, disinfectant sprays and wipes, air fresheners, and other cleaning products that advertise anti-microbial activity.
- The concern for Employers is the likelihood of Workers’ Compensation claims by the OVERUSE of these products AT WORK are manifesting employees required use of these products and therefore bringing losses to the insurance carriers.
- The insurance carriers are advocating what the State and Federal Governments are recommending and correctly so!
- The government recommendations are forthcoming from entities that are not working together (They actually have disclaimers if they redirect you to another Governmental entity i.e.: OSHA to CDC)
The costs: Workers Compensation Experience Modification Factors
- Indemnity: Indemnity benefits are the lost wages that you would expect to be paid while recovering from a work-related injury/illness. These lost wages include money that an injured individual is not making from their job and would otherwise be making had they not been injured at work, due to work restrictions.
- Medical Payments: The current Medical costs or FUTURE reservable expected costs of medical recovery.
- Employers Liability: Workers’ compensation provides some level of coverage for medical expenses and lost wages for employees or their beneficiaries when an employee is injured, falls sick, or is killed as a result of their job. There is no need for the employee to sue the employer to establish fault to qualify for workers’ compensation. However, if an employee feels that workers’ compensation does not adequately cover their loss—perhaps because they feel their employer’s negligence caused their injury—they may decide to sue their employer for punitive damages such as pain and suffering. Employers’ liability coverage is designed to cover expenses not covered by workers’ compensation or general liability.
The reality is the unprecedented need to report claims as per OSHA 300 and Workers’ Compensation carrier reporting provisions has created a significant pricing effect to Workers’ Compensation costs.
What is a Workers’ Compensation Modification factor and ARAP?
Here is a an NCCI Video to get up to speed on what an Experience Mod. is:
1. Experience Modifications are set using paid/incurred losses and reserves.
2. Reserves are set by the insurance carrier adjuster based on their experience with specific types of claims utilizing claims practices like “Case Model Reserving Practices” How many adjusters have seen the results of the COVID-19 or the Cumulative Traumas presenting from Sanitizers & Disinfectants?
3. These reserves for a workplace related illness(es) allow for reserves on the Paid Indemnity, Medical Payments & Employers Liability. All of these will affect your Workers Compensation for Up to 5 years.
4. What happens if you fail to report Covid-19 claims or the cumulative trauma stemming from overuse of disinfectants and sanitizers claims to protect your Experience Modification? For the most part, states require that you notify your employer of a workplace injury within 60 or even 30 days. But you may have longer to file a workers’ compensation claim with the state. Alaska, for instance, only gives injured workers 30 days to provide notice of an injury or death to both the employer and the state workers’ comp board. New York requires employer notice within 30 days, but gives an employee two years from the date of the injury to file a claim with the state. In Massachusetts, on the other hand, employees have four years from the date they become aware of the causal connection between their disability and their employment to file a workers’ comp claim.
A better way.
Why is Aqueous Ozone a solution?
Different manufacturers have introduced aqueous ozone cleaning systems. However, many are not quite sure what aqueous ozone cleaning is all about. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about aqueous ozone.
What is it?
Aqueous ozone is a powerful oxidizer proven to clean effectively, destroying a host of germs, bacteria, and other contaminants on surfaces. Aqueous ozone has also been tested and proven to be an effective alternative to sanitizers. Ozone is capable of licing* a bacterial or viral cell at a rate much quicker than traditional chemical without the toxic ingredients or residues. Ozone is made up of three atoms found in the atmosphere and, as a result of new technologies, can be mechanically infused into water to create aqueous ozone, poured into a sprayer, and used just like a traditional cleaning solution.
*licing = rendering inert?
Is it safe?
Yes. Aqueous ozone is typically safer than traditional or green cleaning solutions. Users are advised to follow all standard safety precautions, including wearing gloves, as they would when using any cleaning solution. Many people then clean those gloves using aqueous ozone, so they are clean and sanitized for their next use. Enozo does not have a PPE requirement or “wipe” requirement.
Is it green?
Some aqueous ozone products are referred to as “greener than green” and have been certified by leading green certification organizations. Additionally, these systems promote sustainability. There are no boxes, packaging materials, or fuel required to transport aqueous ozone. The ozone is all made by one machine. Enozo has GreenSeal Certification.
How long does it last?
After use, the water evaporates and the ozone reverts back to oxygen. Aqueous ozone does not leave chemical residue on surfaces. Aqueous Ozone smells like fresh rain. Most true Aqueous Ozone has a half-life of 2-10 minutes based on concentration of Aqueous Ozone and size of the water droplet.
How strong is it?
Aqueous ozone is often compared to chlorine bleach because it can be used in many similar disinfecting applications. Aqueous Ozone does have “kill” rates comparable to the key ingredients found in most hospital-grade disinfectants. (While aqueous ozone can be compared to chlorine bleach, it does not corrode surfaces like chlorine bleach.) Some scientific articles point out that Aqueous Ozone begins attacking a cell roughly 3,000 times faster than bleach.
Where can it be used?
Use aqueous ozone just about anywhere you would use a cleaning solution: counters, restroom fixtures, floors, “high-touch” areas, even carpet. Any surface you are comfortable to apply water to.