It’s that time of year, where we’re simultaneously planning for tomorrow, next month and next year. It’s a juggling act, given how the year is quickly winding down, but the holiday season has just started.
Amid all that hustle and bustle—and, to be honest, late nights where we’re scrambling to get everything all done—we can stop and look back at the past months.
COVID-19 has warped our sense of time, but we have felt some stabilization that has allowed us—and hopefully you—to focus on other concerns of late. That’s helping us to get back into our old rhythms, and we are realizing that we’re grateful for the humdrum.
We’re excited to convene with safety professionals next week at the Safety Leadership Conference in our home city of Cleveland, Ohio, from Nov. 9-11. We hope to see you there where we'll talk about the challenges you're facing in between what we consider to be our strongest lineup to date. That includes:
- Ed Foulke and Kristin White of Fisher Phillips talking about how to survive an OSHA investigation.
- Jane Heidingsfelder of Jones Walker sharing how to respond to pandemic-related complaints and investigations.
- William D’Amico of Victaulic Company, a previous America’s Safety Companies recipient, detailing how to transform your culture to create a world-class safety organization.
- Pam Bobbitt of Amazon highlighting top technology trends to improve engagement and elevate your safety program.
And so much more. There are group tours, workshops, keynote speakers, exhibitors, America's Safest Companies of 2021 award ceremony and plenty of opportunities to network with your peers. We’ll be covering the event, but as we all know by now, there’s some magic that can’t be replicated if you’re not there to experience it yourself in person. There's still time to register at www.safetyleadershipconference.com.
That said, it’s also been a busy week for safety-related news. Let’s take a look at some of the headlines you might have missed.
From Laggard to Leader
Early in the pandemic, meatpacking facilities were a hotspot for COVID-19 outbreaks.
This summer, after a month as CEO of Tyson Foods, Donnie King started meeting with the company’s leadership team and outside experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Tyson executives did the analysis and the modeling for an unvaccinated workforce, King told The New York Times. They came to a conclusion and announced in early August that all of its 120,000 workers would need to get vaccinated, or they would lose their jobs.
“We made the decision to do the mandate, fully understanding that we were putting our business at risk,” King said. “This was very painful to do.”
Now, more than 96% of the workforce is vaccinated. The company has said a “very limited” number of employees have quit over the mandate, and about 4,000 U.S. workers were granted religious or medical exemptions; some of them have been transferred to a position that allowed them to social distance while others were furloughed.
Read more about how Tyson came to this decision and how some workers came around to getting vaccinated here.
CDC Authorizes COVID-19 Vaccine for Children
Tuesday, CDC director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, authorized that children ages 5 to 11 can get the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine for COVID-19.
That decision allows about 28 million children in the U.S. to get vaccinated, meaning that fully 85% of the U.S. population is now eligible.
The announcement was expected, as the Food and Drug Administration had already given the green light last week.
There isn’t enough time for children to be fully vaccinated by Thanksgiving, but it does mean that holiday gatherings will look different than last year, before COVID-19 vaccines were widely available. And it marks another step closer toward the end of the pandemic.
Doses have already started shipping and are being administered, but experts expect that immunizations will hit their stride next week. Pediatric vaccinations will be available at thousands of pediatric healthcare provider offices, pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and more, according to the CDC.
Read the full announcement from the CDC here.
Climate Change Conference Underway
The world is watching as world leaders, climate experts, financiers and protectors gather at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). The conference is being held in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12.
The conference brings together the major emitting countries with those countries most vulnerable to climate change.
This year’s goals include:
- secure net-zero emissions by 2050 and stick to the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) global warming limit,
- adapt to protect communities and natural habitats,
- mobilize finance, and
- finalize the Paris Rulebook.
It’s the first major global gathering for climate change since the pandemic, and much has happened since.
“The science is clear that the window of time we have to keep the goal of 1.5℃ alive, and to avoid the worst effects of climate change, is closing fast,” said COP President Alok Sharma in a statement. “But with political will and commitment, we can, and must, deliver an outcome in Glasgow the world can be proud of.”
These conversations and pledges for action are forward looking, which can make them difficult to comprehend in the here and now. It’s likely that some of the discussions will result in changes to how we do business, including for safety professionals.