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The Top 10 LHSFNA Articles of 2020

In case you missed them, here are 10 of the LHSFNA’s most popular articles over the last year. It’s no surprise almost all of them involve COVID-19 in some way, as the pandemic dominated headlines worldwide and the headlines of Lifelines in 2020.

The pandemic brought new challenges to many safety and health topics that were already big concerns for both LIUNA members and signatory contractors, such as the opioid crisis, mental health and heat illness. The pandemic also helped shine more attention on issues that hadn’t gotten enough attention before, particularly the existing health disparities among various groups throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Check out the full list of articles below to see what you may have missed.

1. How Effective Are Masks and Other Facial Coverings at Stopping Coronavirus?

Our most popular article of 2020 broke down the differences between respirators and face coverings at a time when many Americans were still uncertain about how to best protect themselves from COVID-19. This distinction became especially important in workplaces, where face coverings became widespread but did not count as personal protective equipment (PPE).

2. COVID-19’s Disproportionate Impact Across Racial Lines

Early warnings about the dangers of COVID-19 focused on high-risk groups, such as those over age 65. Yet data soon revealed that across the U.S., Blacks and Hispanics were dying at much greater rates than Whites. This impact is rooted in several factors, one of which is long-standing systemic racism in our health care system.

3. LHSFNA Plays Critical Role in First-in-Nation COVID-19 Standard

Without a COVID-19 standard at the federal OSHA level, states across the country stepped up to create their own emergency standards and protect the health of workers. The first state to act was Virginia, where the Fund’s own Travis Parsons was directly involved in developing and voting for a strong COVID-19 standard.

4. Are Construction Workers at Higher Risk for COVID-19 Complications?

Construction workers smoke at higher than average rates and are more likely to develop respiratory diseases like COPD and asthma due to occupational exposure. How does this affect their overall risk for serious health complications from COVID-19? We compared risk factors among the construction workforce to all workers, and the results may surprise you.

5. An Honest Conversation on Racism and Public Health

The death of George Floyd reignited a national conversation about structural racism that continues today. LIUNA members come from a diverse group of backgrounds, races and ethnicities. The LHSFNA is committed to helping all LIUNA members lead full, healthy lives, and that can’t happen until we take collective action to address the role that systemic racism plays in our society.

6. COVID-19 Contact Tracing Explained: Roles for Employers and Workers

As stay-at-home orders across the U.S. ended, the next big questions were about containing new outbreaks through contact tracing. What responsibility did employers have and how could workers do their part?

7. Avoiding Heat Illness Risks Due to Facial Coverings

Heat illness was already a serious hazard for construction laborers before COVID-19 forced many workers to wear facial coverings on a daily basis. In this article, the LHSFNA looked at how to balance the need to wear a face covering with the increased physical exertion and heat illness risk that comes with wearing them.

8. Coronavirus and Its Impact on Our Mental Health

The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health this year. While overall well-being may be lower across the U.S. and Canada, a possible silver lining is an increased willingness to talk about mental health. When everyone is struggling together, the stigma about speaking up should be reduced.

9. Increasing Opioid Overdoses an Unfortunate Side Effect of the Pandemic

In the midst of the pandemic, more than 40 states reported spikes in opioid-related deaths. Increased stress, decreased access to support systems that help maintain sobriety caused by social distancing and fentanyl showing up in illicit drugs like cocaine instead of only opiates are all likely contributing factors.

10. Improving Safety and Health for Women in Construction

There are over 11 million workers in the U.S. construction industry, but only 3.4 percent of frontline workers on construction jobsites are women. While many construction hazards affect men and women equally, some issues have a disproportionate impact on female construction workers. Recognizing and addressing these specific hazards can help eliminate the barriers for women to choose a career in construction.

[Nick Fox]

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