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Week in Review: Sept. 12 – 17, 2021

Sept. 17, 2021
A look at ongoing stories and evolving trends that are affecting workplace safety.

The battle against COVID-19 continues, and its impact continues to be felt throughout our everyday lives.

A panel of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccine advisers are meeting today to consider whether booster shots are needed and if so, who needs them. It’s a contentious issue even among scientists, vaccine experts, politicians and public health experts. At risk of oversimplifying, their goal is the same—to keep people safe from COVID-19—but they diverge on how best to do so.

One thing they do agree on: vaccination. The rate of vaccinations has been rising for the last few weeks, and the 7-day average had been close to 1 million vaccines administered per day. That has fallen to 774,000, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts are once again warning that could spell disaster as the cold and flu season draws nearer. Many ICUs across the nation are still strained. In Alabama, more of those beds are being filled by children who are still too young to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, NPR reports.

These continue to be trying times. We thank you, as safety professionals, for continuing to do your part to keep people safe.

Secret Vaxxers

This headline gave us pause when we first read it, “Secret Vaxxers: These Americans are getting COVID vaccinations but not telling anyone.”

We have seen polls and heard from people who are reluctant or who refuse to be vaccinated. This piece looks at the psychological factors that could explain their reasons, which may not be about concerns about vaccine efficacy or safety.

For many, the decision of whether to get vaccinated and to share their vaccine status is influenced those in their social group. And wanting to remain in good standing with a social group is a strong motivator, even if it comes with a high cost.

“People will gladly go to war and risk being killed and even get killed in order to stay on good terms with their group,” said Jonathan Rauch, a Brookings Institution expert on polarization and author of The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth to USA TODAY. “So, you can apply that to vaccination.”

The Harris Poll conducted a poll for USA TODAY right before Labor Day and found that 11% of vaccinated Americans are keeping their vaccination private from some people, while an additional 6% are not telling anyone. As many as 25% said their vaccination status could cause friction in their relationships.

The article from USA TODAY helped us stand in someone else’s shoes and appreciate the concern and fear some people have about getting vaccinated. We are fortunate to have support from family, friends and management, and we appreciated the perspective.

Read the full article here

The Rise in Mass Shootings

As aspects of daily life have recommenced over the past few months, we’re seeing the return of something we hoped we wouldn’t: workplace shootings.

While there have been a handful of workplace shootings lately, statistically they are outliers. Still, there is concern that COVID-19 and the shutdown or shelter at home orders that followed could be responsible, at least in part, of the recent uptick.

"The reason they seem more frequent right now is because we haven't had them really for the last year because of COVID," said Jaclyn Schildkraut, associate professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Oswego, to NPR.

"Now that much of the country is returning to work, we're seeing an uptick in these events in the sense that they're now out there because people are back out there."

And these people have had time to plan. Schildkraut says that there is a level of planning with workplace violence; it’s unlikely that someone will wake up and decide to go on a mass shooting.

There are usually precipitating factors and warning signs, and every employee has the potential to diffuse a situation. As we prepare for a post-pandemic workplace, consider refresher training on workplace violence. There are plenty of resources available from government agencies and nonprofits, many of them free.

Read the full article here.

Correcting the Gap (or Crookedness)

Many people have been working from home for upwards of two years. As a result of COVID-19, we have seen a number pandemic-induced lifestyle changes: weight gain, weight loss, plastic surgery, and orthodontia.

Journalist Kathryn Dill shares that for some, the prospect of returning to the office motivated some to act. Others are taking advantage of face masks that can help hide braces and retainers. Others have started clenching or grinding their teeth as a stress response, which mandated some orthodontia work.

Dill writes: “Orthodontist Peter Jahn'Shahi's calendar was already busy with a backlog of appointments from existing patients when his Brooklyn practice reopened last June. Since the fall, though, new inquiries have been up almost 50%. He says most new patients are in their early 30s to late 40s, and typically want Invisalign or lingual braces, which are placed behind the teeth.”

That mirrors what Align Technology Inc., maker of the Invisalign clear aligners, is seeing. The number of adults starting treatment in Q1 2021 is 69% higher than Q1 2020.

The end of the pandemic will definitely be something to smile about. Perhaps when you see your family, friends or co-workers smile next, it may be straighter. Brace yourself!

Read the full article (which, unlike this summary, is free of puns) here.

A Heartwarming Message

Sometimes, you don’t realize you need something until you get it.

Such is the case for a video message Steve from “Blue’s Clues.”

In celebration of the show’s 25th anniversary, Steve shared how what he learned on the show and helped him through college and all the years since.

That video message has gone viral and unleashed a torrent of emotion for many. Maybe it was the contents of the message, the delivery of that message, or viewers’ reflections. Whatever it is, we needed to hear it, even if we didn’t know it until we watched it.

Watch the video here, and watch Stephen Colbert do a bit here.

About the Author

Nicole Stempak

Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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