Health & Equity for Injured Workers
I want to raise a community concern regarding the protection from and response to workplace injuries and worker’s rights to protections, particularly those ones which protected hazards and are very common, but are not as classically thought of when it comes to reporting: Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs), including things such as back pain, tendonitis, repetitive strain injuries, overuse syndrome, and carpal tunnel.
These are all preventable injuries, yet the experience for some staff has shown that they are occurring within work units, especially those where sitting and computing involving repetitive tasks compromise the entirety of an 8hr work day, and employees are remaining unaware of their rights to have these injuries examined, covered, and reported in order to begin claims for Worker’s Compensation. Our university has an Environmental Health and Safety Program, and certifies people in health and safety via our OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Center, but on an individual department level, we have found these concerns are not being handled timely or responsibly when workers report issues related to these disorders, often caused by ergonomic misalignment, tools, high workloads, and high volumes of computer-based work.
When an employee has expressed they are experiencing pain and discomfort, instead of being directed to consult immediately with Occupational Health or see a medical provider for a Worker’s Compensation assessment, either:
their concerns are being acknowledged but not addressed, or, if they request alternate equipment or evaluation for alternate basic equipment, they are being given the personal additional barrier of needing a medical provider’s documented note in order to schedule an ergonomic assessment or being issued equipment that is fitting to their bodies. Within units, the workstations are standardized at an adjustable height, non-ergonomic equipment is issued during onboarding, and chairs are being assigned that do not provide adequate support for correct posture that would prevent or mitigate employee MSD injury.
ASU has policies within the EHS Manual that dictate the reporting procedures for injury, which if followed the same for MSDs as other incidents such as trips and falls, would provide employees with access to information needed to address their injuries, and receive an evaluation for their protections through Worker’s Compensation. However, in practice, this is not happening equitably when each department is able to make its own guidelines for how employees are directed to seek treatment for MSDs, how to inform workers on how to recognize symptoms and remain safe from ergonomic injuries, and how employee requests for ergonomic assessment or alternative work equipment such as chairs and keyboards are handled on the everyday level.
This may be a mixture of needing additional training to be provided to departments regarding what injuries should be addressed and formally reported and when, as well as providing clear guidelines from the University as to what actions departments and supervision are required to take when an employee expresses they are experiencing pain at their workstation, and while working.
A main concern this presents for the entire ASU community, is how we are best serving our most vulnerable employees, and working to protect their rights as well as their health and safety. An inter-departmental policy that does not require supervision to address employee complaints about pain or injury and report them, where they are not being told to not direct employees to the correct channels once the employee tells their supervision so that the employee may be evaluated for eligibility for Worker’s Compensation, and then when that unit further requires medical documentation for an ergonomic assessment to be scheduled, after an employee has notified someone in their supervision verbally or in writing that they are experiencing pain while working, leads to underreporting and exposure to ergonomic hazards, especially for employees who experience disabilities, chronic illness, and systemic oppression or discrimination within the medical system.
There are protected groups of individuals who have mistrust in the medical community, due to historical oppression and discrimination while seeking care, including but not limited to: members of the BIPOC community, LGBTQ+ community, those who are part of the neurodivergent spectrum, women, and people with chronic illness or disabilities. Under these internal policies of not providing active assistance when an employee expresses a workplace concern of pain or injury, not notifying them of their rights to a safe working environment free from hazards and directing them to Worker’s Compensation, and then requiring additional medical documentation in order to provide a safe working environment, these practices place these protected groups systematically at risk for injury and disability.
As a member of the University it is important to speak out for our fellow members and be actively working to question and updated policies and procedures university-wide which put the health and safety of individuals who experience systemic oppression at risk, as no inaction does a disservice to the whole ASU community, not just those who are experiencing the inequity.
Please reach out to your OHR Business Partner so that they may assist you in addressing your concerns. Please click on the link to find your respective OHR Partner: https://cfo.asu.edu/ohr-partners.
Crosswalks on Tempe campus
Is it possible to have crosswalks repainted or more visible throughout the campus and on roads through campus (ie. McCallister, College Ave, Rural, Lemon, Apache, etc.)
Facilities Management will take the lead on coordination. Roadway and crosswalk maintenance responsibilities are different depending on the location. Some locations will be the responsibility of ASU and some will be the responsibility of the City of Tempe. FM is requesting a map with notes to identify locations of highest concern so they can prioritize efforts.
ADA Accessibility at SkySong Campus
Hello - Writing to contact the Staff Council regarding ADA accessibility on the SkySong campus. I recently had an injury that left me in a boot a crutches for a few weeks. My position is split 50/50 in Tempe and at SkySong. While on the Tempe campus, I had access to the DART service and most doors had the handicap access switch to easily and safely get in and out of the building. Unfortunately this was not the case at SkySong. There were no services available to help temporarily or permanently disabled staff members get from point A to point B. I had a meeting in building 1 suite 301, and not a single door had a handicap access switch. Not the front doors, not the restroom doors, not the conference room door. I can't imagine I am the first employee to need these services, so I thought I should reach out to Staff Council for support. Sadly I think the issue might have something to do with the fact that there are mainly online students supported out of SkySong, but staff should have access to the services available at other campuses as well. I have already contacted the CTO in my department, and she is bringing this to the attention of the person in charge of work culture at EdPlus. Anyway, please let us know how we can push this issue forward. Thanks!
Automatic door openers are not a required element under the ADA or in building construction code. Much of Skysong are leased buildings and not owned by ASU, therefore ASU standards for automatic doors do not apply. With that said, students, staff, and faculty can request an ADA accommodation; however, those are considered on a case by case basis. If an employee would like to inquire about an ADA accommodation or feel they are in need of one, they may email their inquiry to email@example.com. Also, employees may contact Peter Fischer, Accessibility Compliance Coordinator @ firstname.lastname@example.org for follow-up or any building environment assistance. Unfortunately, there are no DART services at Skysong. We have no staff or golf carts at that location. They are only offered at Tempe, West, Downtown, and Polytechnic campuses.
COOR Hall - sewer gas exposure
We have notified facilities several times about the smell in COOR hall 4th floor. There has been no resolution. All we were told is that they don't know what it is. It's disgusting having to work in an office where you are exposed to sewer gas. This is a health concern.
Facilities Management received a request similar to this and created a work order. Corrective action was taken and no additional requests in this regard have been received. If the originator of this submission is still experiencing issues, please reach out to Facilities Management (FACMAN@asu.edu) and reference the Work Order # if possible.
Working from home more
Hello I was wondering if there are more compromises that can be done for schools to allow employees to work from home more then 1 or 2 days a week. It would be nice full time but even if they allow 3 days for covid safety when school is back in full. I have a family memeber who has a bad immune system and can't afford to be sick and I know some Schools have no problem with working from home but others the Dean makes an issue about it and doesn't want it and is already not happy with 1 or 2 days which is not right. If it doesn't affect the work and other schools see it as a good option then it should be a joint thing not up to the individual school. I thought ASU is also environmentally friendly and would want less driving to go on and with gas prices up and would help us all. But I just was wondering the main concern is my family memebers immune system and how ASU can advise that all schools should support and understand certain dangerous family concerns and be more tollarable to those that have legit reasons for asking for things. I been told its up to my department and school but I am scared to ask knowing that the dean of that school has to approve it and he already doesn't like the work from home program. So it would be nice if ASU put out that everyone if some schools already agree to it it needs to be fair for everyone then as well. Thanks
Health Check symptoms
I'm wondering ASU will update the Health Check questions and symptoms to better reflect those typical of omicron, especially among the vaccinated. If the goal is to keep infectious people from coming to campus, the questions need to be updated to reflect changes in symptoms. Hope that is coming soon!
The Health Check is voluntary, however we will provide this feedback to the team responsible for the application
Am I allowed to ask my team (who works in an open floor plan) to wear masks? I am extremely uncomfortable that we are all within a few feet of each other & people choose not to wear masks.
While of course you can continue to wear your face covering, you may ask if your coworkers would voluntarily wear a face cover, but we cannot require them to.
SP2022 COVID Protocols
I was honestly hurt when I watched President Crow's video re: spring 2022 COVID measures (or non-measures). The only updates we are making to deal with omicron are bringing back health checks? I do not understand how there is not AT LEAST a full indoor mask mandate. Social distance of 6' is pretty meaningless when dealing with an airborne disease that's much more contagious than previous iterations. Further, how is the university not providing all employees and students with high-quality masks?
Health professionals have been clear that cloth masks are not good enough for omicron. When the only science the President mentioned is the CDC's new guidance to get our butts back in chairs faster after we're sick, it doesn't make me feel appreciated or cared for. Once again, I'm left feeling incredibly disappointed by ASU's lack of empathy and care for the people who work here.
ASU has an aggressive Community of Care program since the onset of the pandemic , which includes onsite and on-demand testing options, vaccination clinics, and masking protocols which have resulted in high compliance. Additionally, as of January 13, 2022 ASU is providing a limited quantity of N95 respirators to employees for voluntary use for the spring 2022 semester. Respirators are provided at no charge by ASU Employee Health. Our faculty and staff vaccination rate exceeds 90%. We are confident that we have executed a strategy that makes our campus as safe as possible.
Feeling at risk of COVID
The hallway I work in is extremely high traffic because of its proximity to a large lecture hall. I feel incredibly uneasy even walking around my own building due to all the students who wait in our halls with no social distancing or masks. I haven’t been to the MU at all this past week because I have heard how packed it gets. I feel like my tiny office is the only space where I feel comfortable. It was much harder to focus on my work with concerns of COVID spreading in my building at the forefront of my thoughts.
Please contact your internal HR prepresentative or your OHR Partner who can be found here: https://cfo.asu.edu/ohr-partners.
Concerned about health and safety
I am concerned about health and wellness now that my team has had to return to the office 5 days a week. I was relieved to see that masks would be strongly recommended again, but many people (including leadership) in my office are not wearing them. We were told to "stay home if we are sick, just like always," when it's pretty well-known that most people feel obligated (not just in my office, but across campus) to go to work if you "just have a cold." One woman in my office today was sniffling and finally said, "Oh, I guess I should put my mask on. I'm all stuffed up." We were forced to sit in a very small meeting room together and now I am wondering if I need to go get a COVID test in a few days since she was maskless and sniffling two feet from me during the meeting. I've been vaccinated, but the breakthrough cases are concerning. Why are some offices allowed to continue to work from home at least part-time when others are not? My previous unit is a student-facing advising team going into the office 3 days a week. I love my team, but I don't understand the dissonance (masks required, but they aren't wearing them. Work from home is not allowed by president Crow, yet I see other units doing it, etc.) and don't feel safe (physically) or supported to be able to speak up to leadership there due to the confusing messaging.
The health of our community is a top priority. Please find the university's policies and announcements regarding Hybrid work environment here: https://www.asu.edu/aad/manuals/spp/spp306.html
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