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Total Worker Health in the New Modern World – Dara Wheeler

Date: [ax-webinar-date] • Runtime: [ax-webinar-runtime]

Total Workers Health in the New Modern World requires a combined approach, including everything from daily screening to occupational health management through end-to-end case management. Axiom Medical’s CMO duo Dara Wheeler and Scott Cherry are shedding highlights on Total Workers Health and medical surveillance during the Fast Track To COVID Compliance Summit. Dr. Cherry gives an overview of infectious diseases and how they can impact your workers’ health.

Get some helpful information on OSHA mandates and their impacts, tips, and tricks to manage your workforces’ healthcare during this event.

[ax-webinar]

[00:01] – Holly Foxworth

Welcome back again. We’re now at session number six of eight in Axiom Medical Fast Track to OSHA COVID Compliance Virtual Summit. We’ve had a great morning so far. [silence] That was Dr. David Michaels. We then did HR Legal Implications and talked about compliance a little bit with our HR legal officer Chuck Kable. We then jumped over to ESG with Axiom’s President and CEO, Mark Robinson. We picked up the Preparing for Unannounced OSHA Inspections with the HSS area manager, Connor Trotter just finished the data psychology management with the IT security director Linda White. And I’m so tickled to actually bring to you this next that we call them the ultimate CMO duo because we have both CMO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Scott Cherry and Chief Marketing Officer Dara Wheeler. So I’m going to turn it over to them in just one, just a second.

But before we do that, I wanted to kind of give you just some brief announcements in case you’re unaware. First of all, my name is Holly Foxworth. I am a registered nurse. I am the webinar host and marketing manager for content here at Axiom Medical. Should you have any type of technical issues while we conduct a session, you’re welcome to look at the bottom of your screen. There are some boxes that are down there. There’s one that looks like a question mark, so you would click on that, and that would get you in touch with one of our teams where you can check back and forth and hopefully resolve any type of issues that you may have. We are doing things a little bit differently today. Normally we do Q & A within the actual webinar, but we have something new today. We actually have what is called the breakout rooms, and so you can access that at any time. There is an Axiom representative in the actual breakout room right now. But then after the content is presented by our speakers, they will join the breakout room as well for another 30 minutes of questions and answers. So the way you get to that is right there, at the top of your screen on the right, press the “Join” button and that will get you right in.

The last thing I was going to mention is that if you have not registered for the next session, which is going to be seven, so nearly at the very end, this one, actually, that one will be for mental health considerations, especially for employers that are making some of those really tough decisions right now, considering how it is that you will manage all of the mandates that are here. What do you do with employees? Where do you make that decision? And how does that impact them on the back end if you’re having to make some challenging decisions there? And like I said, if you haven’t registered for that, there will be a box that comes up at the end of the presentation. You would simply click on that. It gets you registered, you’ll get a code, and then you can join us for that one. So I’m going to go ahead and turn it over to our team, Dr. Scott Cherry and Dara Wheeler, to introduce themselves, and they’ll get started and kind of share with some additional information we need to know about employee health in this new modern world, Dr. Cherry.

[03:24] – Dr. Scott Cherry

Well, good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for tuning in. My name is Scott Cherry. I’m Axiom Medical Chief Medical Officer. My professional background, I’m board-certified in preventive medicine, public health, and occupational environmental medicine. And I’ve been supporting employee population health for the past 15 years with the US military, corporate and industrial arenas. And it’s a pleasure to be with you today.

[03:52] – Dara Wheeler

Hi, everybody. My name is Dara Wheeler. I’ll go ahead and kick it off. I am actually Axiom’s Chief Marketing Officer, the other CMO. So you get two CMOs for the price of one today. And we are really excited to talk about this topic, and I’ll kick it over to Dr. Cherry here in just a second. But although a lot of this seminar and this summit today has been about the OSHA mandates, I do think those of you that have followed us for a long time or are long time clients know that one of our most exciting topics that Dr. Cherry and I could probably talk about for a year is total worker health and what that looks like in this COVID era and how we can help going to bring that total worker health to the forefront for employers. So I’m happy to be here to talk about this today. I will kick it over to you, Dr. Cherry, and move over that slide.

[04:44] – Dr. Scott Cherry

Sure. As you said there, we’ve been talking about total worker health, at least for the four years that I’ve been here at Axiom. And I’ve been aware of this concept for probably a decade. And NIOSH, which is the research wing for employee health out of the CDC, has been really coining that phrase where you’re looking at a holistic approach to employee health, where you look at personal health and then the occupational health components. And before COVID, even when I was looking directly at individual cases, where you might be asked for a medical opinion for work-relatedness when it came to infectious diseases, unless the employee was working specifically with infectious diseases in a research capacity or if it was a health care worker, even in a lot of the OSHA guidance, infectious diseases that were found outside the workplaces were actually explicitly exempted from being considered work-related. So for flu, etc. Now there was a small carve out for H1N1. But what we’re seeing with COVID-19 is really a huge paradigm shift in this. We’ve been seeing it where public health departments have actually been very active in looking at outbreaks and large employers, potentially shutting them down. And now with the healthcare ETS. And then what we’re seeing right on the cusp of having a Biden mandate for really essentially all employees that are in companies greater than 100. And so obviously, this has never been really seen before, at least in my career, where you’re essentially making almost every employee eligible to be under a medical surveillance program for COVID.

[06:49] – Dr. Scott Cherry

Now, medical surveillance programs are a specialty at Axiom, where there are specific hazards. But moving to a large infectious disease medical surveillance program is really a huge paradigm shift, as I said. And I think that’s the implication of the pandemic. And so when you think of the responsibilities of the workplace, now they’re going well beyond the traditional industrial hygiene measures for workplace-specific hazards. And I think we’ve seen a lot of the discussion today talk about how COVID is really a workplace health issue. And so when this mandate is passed, we will see kind of that responsibility of the employer to really almost eliminate COVID in the workplace and then actually have the responsibility of recording their practice and any type of infections that may have come out in the workplace. So I think this is the impetus that total worker health never received before COVID. And I’m not sure about your thoughts about that, Dara. We haven’t spoken about it in the last couple of months. But what are your thoughts about would this be the impetus to make total worker health a more broadly accepted practice?

[08:22] – Dara Wheeler

Yes, I do. And I went back and looked at NIOSHA’s literature on their site about total worker health and the implications for employers. And I do know that another infectious disease has on occasion been considered work-related and recordable if it is contracted at work. But I do think the scope of this is so much broader than we’ve seen before. And I know we’ll talk a little bit about it more on the next couple of slides, and I know we don’t have much time, so I’m not going to say too much more. We can address some of the questions in the chat, but yeah, I think this is definitely different in terms of workplace health and safety and the way you implement policy and think about protecting employees in the workplace. This is different. Absolutely. So let’s get over to some of the trends on the employee health horizon.

[09:15] – Dr. Scott Cherry

Yeah, we’re learning more and more every day about COVID, but what is very clear is that many people have physical and even mental health limitations post COVID. A large proportion of infections have mild or no symptoms, but there’s still a good proportion that actually has symptoms that go several weeks or months considered long haulers. And so there are specific treatment centers out there for that. However, what’s very applicable to our audience would be those that are in physically demanding safety-sensitive roles. How does post-COVID affect their employee’s fitness for duty and so having kind of this holistic approach with total worker health, fitness for duty assessments, returning to work from a personal or work-related injury or illness is really more important than ever? And I think we’ve seen a lot of reports and studies about the exponential increase in mental health issues in society, and that’s definitely going to translate right into the workplace. I think COVID has really created a discussion where we need to think more broadly about personal and occupational health holistically, because traditionally and I appreciate the next slide here. A lot of our approaches can be reactive where once someone is showing signs or symptoms of poor performance, there’s a loss of opportunity to address their fitness for duty at the earliest level, we always think of trying to get to prevention from a primary perspective or secondary perspective when it’s just at its earliest stages as it’s most impactful. And so now more than ever, we really need to approach this from a process perspective, where you may have leading indicators with regard to mental health and physical health and fitness for duty through the deployment of health technology. So Dara, let me know your thoughts on some of these aspects.

[11:52] – Dara Wheeler

Yeah. And I know that you and I have thought about this kind of pre-COVID days, and where are the big dollars spent in an organization and some of the really leading-edge employers that we worked with really started to think about the big dollars and the big dollars typically, besides payroll, which is huge, is also the health care spending. And when you’ve got a workplace that focuses on health and safety, like Dr. Cherry said, for those employers that are in safety-sensitive roles, and you’ve got this kind of bifurcation between health and the personal health side. But then you’ve got health and safety over here on the fit for duty and kind of that type of program side. But if you look at it from a total impact of an employee is in the workplace, being in this environment, then you need to take that proactive approach and look at an employee’s journey at a company from day one all the way through. And I think that’s where those employers pre-COVID, we’re starting to head in some of these really interesting ways, even things like integrating technology like Fitbit technology or other wearables to start getting at that preventative piece, how do we prevent somebody from getting hurt in the workplace?

And now you enter into a COVID kind of world that we’re in. And I think that health and like you said, both mental and physical health becomes so critical to what we’re looking at and that it’s not just whether they can physically perform the job, whether they are mentally able to perform the job, and also that we’re supporting them through this infectious disease in the workplace scenario, which is something that’s so new for most employers. It was very specific to certain industries. Chuck always talks about the healthcare standards. But as we look at meatpacking, there’s a lot in the news right now about how infectious diseases spread within meatpacking and the meatpacking industry. And we’ve seen so many industries impacted differently by COVID that we hadn’t necessarily seen in the past. And so a view into worker health and affecting not just the big dollars that are associated with health in the workplace, but the individuals that are showing up for work every day. At least that’s my kind of rant today. And that’s the way I see it.

[14:14] – Dr. Scott Cherry

Yeah. Great points. Thank you for that. And I know we’re getting close to kind of our mark to switch over to Q & A. So I’ll hand it back to Holly.

[14:28] – Holly Foxworth

Hey, that was amazing. You guys both. I think probably we could talk about this for years and years. Fairly routine, I would say probably every other week, but lots of good information. I love the two of you together. I think that you both bring in a very interesting dynamic there as well in terms of what moving forward for employee health. So thank you both for participating. Just kind of as a reminder we talked about it before, but if you would like to join them in the breakout room for Q & A, please feel free to do so. You would access that by going to the breakout room, which is on the far right-hand side of your screen at the very top. You just press the “Join” button, and that will get you there to our infamous Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Scott Cherry, and Chief Marketing Officer Dara Wheeler. The last reminder I’ll go through here is that if you have not registered for the next session, that’s going to be the 7th, number seven, then you’ll just wait till the end of the session before you close out your browser. There will be a prompt that comes up. You’ll just click the “Register Now” and that we’ll issue the access code, and we will see you there. Thank you.

[15:38] – Dara Wheeler

Thank you.