How to keep office equipment safe in the COVID-19 era

The virus that causes COVID-19 can remain active for hours or even days on hard surfaces such as office printers, keypads, and other devices. This means that, as workers return to the office, business owners and managers must have a plan for minimising the risk of COVID-19 transmission via these devices. Keeping office equipment safe requires various precautions.

Businesses across Australia are taking steps to manage their return to the office safely. Some businesses are taking a staged approach to bringing staff members back, others are working in shifts to limit the number of people in the office, and still others are sticking with a remote model for most workers with people coming into the office when necessary, such as when they need to print documents.

In addition to basic hygiene procedures such as mandating the use of hand sanitiser and encouraging the use of masks, organisations can minimise the risk of cross-contamination and infection when employees are using shared devices. Multifunction devices (MFDs) remain an essential business tool, so keeping them clean as employees return to work is essential.

There are four ways to keep MFDs clean:

1. Remote access

If an employee is unknowingly infected with COVID-19 or the flu, for example, they can inadvertently leave traces of the virus on the keypad or other parts of the MFD. To avoid this, businesses can use the remote access functionality of the MFD, controlling it via users’ own tablets and smartphones. This means no one needs to physically touch the MFD but can still access all of its functions.

2. Personal stylus

Where remote access isn’t available, employees could use their personal stylus to use the multifunction panel without ever touching it with their fingers. Any stylus can work for this, including those that work with other devices such as tablets.

3. Pull printing

Often, when people send documents to the printer, they can forget they’ve done so. This can result in printouts being left unclaimed on the printer for extended periods of time, which can compromise document security. Or, the person may resend the job, resulting in wastage due to duplicate printouts. A pull-printing solution requires a user to authenticate the job by swiping their ID card or fob at the printer before the job will be released. This helps maintain security, reduce paper wastage, and avoid unnecessary physical interaction with the MFD.

4. Cleaning

Like everything in the office, it’s important to keep the MFDs safe by cleaning them regularly. This includes the panel (screen and keys), document feeder and document glass, and the handles of paper trays. The best way to do this is to use a soft cloth that’s just damp with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) or ethanol for disinfection. The cloth shouldn’t be too wet or it could damage the electrical components. It’s not advisable to use sprays containing solvents, as these will damage the MFD. And, it’s important to wear vinyl gloves when cleaning the MFD.

COVID-19 has caused a heightened awareness of hygiene and many people are understandably nervous about going back to a shared working environment. With these few simple precautions, organisations will be able to use their MFDs with confidence while minimising the risk of disease spread.

Shane Blandford, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, Konica Minolta

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Suspicious package declared safe, man in custody after bomb robot sent into Civic Library

A suspicious package reported to ACT police has been declared safe and a man is in custody, after a number of buildings along London Circuit in Canberra’s centre were evacuated today.

Police said a bomb disposal robot sent into Civic Library had determined the backpack contained only clothes.

ACT Policing Detective Inspector Matthew Reynolds said emergency services were called to the library about 11:45am after a man was observed by members of the public making comments that were of concern and behaving erratically.

Later, police confirmed a 20-year-old man from New South Wales was in custody in relation to the incident.

Street closed down as bomb disposal robot deployed

Detective Inspector Reynolds said out of caution, Civic Square was adorned with police tape and several buildings along London Circuit were evacuated shortly after 12:00pm.

London Circuit was closed to traffic between Northbourne Avenue and Akuna Street, and pedestrians were told to avoid the area.

Fire crews were seen running into the library and evacuating people inside before taping off the square next to Canberra Museum and Gallery.

A bomb-disposal robot was sent into the library about 1:30pm, which found that the package did not pose any danger.

About 3:00pm, Detective Inspector Reynolds said the man who left the package had been recorded on CCTV and was known to police.

“It is very frustrating and we take that very seriously,” he said.

He said the individual responsible could face charges of public mischief and causing public alarm.

“But that’s what we’re here to do, and people shouldn’t be concerned about calling in a bomb threat.”

London Circuit was closed and pedestrians were advised to avoid the area while the emergency response was underway.(ABC News: Andrew Kennedy)

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Man feared missing after leaving Kings Canyon Resort on foot found safe and well

Northern Territory police say a 41-year-old man who went missing for several days in rugged, arid country surrounding a desert resort has been found.

Timothy Rodwell was last seen at Kings Canyon Resort about 7:00pm on Sunday.

The resort sits within Watarrka National Park, a tourist destination about 320 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs by road.

Police earlier said they believed Mr Rodwell became involved in an argument with another person before leaving the resort on foot.

Officers expressed concern for his welfare after there was still no sign of the 41-year-old three days later.

They said it was unclear if he had any food or water with him.

The resort has accommodation, a general store and some amenities, but the surrounding landscape is harsh. There is no phone reception and the temperature regularly reaches 40 degrees Celsius at this time of year.

Police began coordinating land and air searches of the area on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Rodwell was located safe and well several hours later.

He will be taken to the Alice Springs Hospital for treatment for mild dehydration.

Mr Rodwell is about 188 centimetres tall with a solid build.(Supplied: NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services)

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It’s been a long journey to zero, what’s a little longer for a COVID-19 safe Australian Open?


That leaves three options. One is for players to quarantine strictly, with no allowance for practice or a lead-up tournament, then play the Open in its usual timeslot, cold. I think we can agree that would be unfair to ask them to come all this way to undersell themselves.

One is a looser quarantine arrangement, allowing for practice and play in an elastic bubble, with its concordantly greater – though still slight – risk to the community. Including entourages, we’re talking perhaps 1000 people, many from the hottest of spots in Europe and the US.

This was the US Open’s way. This is Novak Djokovic’s preference. Last week, he asked for understanding from the Victorian government. But he was speaking from an already undermined position, having in June led a private exhibition series in Serbia that was set up to spread more COVID-19 than cheer and goodwill. Djokovic contracted it himself. He went too far.

To put it another way: when it came to the Australian Open, Djokovic asked for understanding, Nadal showed it.


The third and likeliest is simply to postpone the Open, so that international visitors can successively quarantine, practice and play in good time. Once moved, what does it matter if it is by one week, or four or more? We will have come this far, what’s a little further now?

These are the times. This year’s French Open was moved by months. Wimbledon was moved so far it disappeared off the schedule altogether. The football seasons here were budged way off their courses. The cricket season has been turned inside out. This is COVID normal, which by definition is not normal.

Whatever solution is arrived at for the Australian Open, it won’t be perfect. The sums will come out differently, but without international visitors, and with 25 per cent crowd capacity at best, they would have anyway. A shoulder season Open will be different for broadcasters, with this caveat: it will still be the Australian Open. It will still be one to mark in the calendar, but on a different page.

Perhaps some players will find it all a bridge too far. So be it. Of the two majors played since the pandemic struck, in New York and Paris, Nadal missed one and played one. Ash Barty played neither. Djokovic played both. Whatever they decide about Melbourne from their different stand-points and hemispheres, it won’t be a judgement on the enduring qualities of the tournament, but an assessment of the risks and rewards at this time.

Whatever shape the 2021 Australian Open takes, it will be a compromise. It’s been a year of compromises, in sport, in life. Without them, Melbourne would have been in a position to stage only a decimated tournament, or perhaps none at all. It’s been a long, long way.

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Creating and supporting jobs through targeted stimulus measures, billions of dollars for infrastructure and maintenance, tax cuts for business and record health funding are at the centre of today’s 2020-21 NSW State Budget.

The Budget reinforces our world-class health system that has made NSW a global leader in tracking, tracing and containing COVID-19 to keep our people safe, as part of a record $29.3 billion health budget.

Job creation is front and centre with a record $107 billion infrastructure pipeline targeting shovel and screwdriver-ready projects, while a skills and training blitz will help people get back into the workforce after this year’s significant job losses.

Hip-pocket support will give families peace of mind, with 15 hours of free preschool per week extended to the end of 2021, and $100 worth of Out & About vouchers for every adult resident to inject new energy into the economy, help businesses doing it tough and encourage employment.

More assistance is being fast-tracked to help those most affected, with the biggest mental health budget in NSW’s history, and a major investment to provide intensive tutoring in schools to help students overcome the challenges of a rollercoaster school year.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Budget takes decisive action to meet the needs of people across NSW, as we emerge from an unprecedented health and economic crisis.

“The people of NSW have done it tough over the past 12 months, faced with the triple crises of drought, bushfires and COVID-19,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We are doing whatever it takes to stay ahead of the pandemic and provide the support our households, businesses and communities need to get back on their own two feet.”

The NSW economy contracted by 1 per cent in 2019-20, with negative growth of ¾ per cent projected for 2020-21, followed by a projected return to growth of 2½ per cent in 2021-22.

The Budget will make targeted investments to turbo-charge jobs over the next five years with the unemployment rate projected to fall to 5¼ per cent by June 2024 as up to 270,000 people return to the workforce.

“With so many people out of work this year and more predicted to become unemployed, we’re in a race against time to help create as many new jobs as we can,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“This Budget has workers at its heart, with temporary, targeted stimulus to generate jobs and get businesses booming again.”

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said nine years of strong financial management had put the Government in a strong position to deploy its fiscal firepower, which would be coupled with record low interest rates, to stimulate a strong recovery through responsible borrowing.

“The risk of long-term economic damage is too great if we do not take action, so we are taking advantage of record low interest rates and a strong balance sheet to turbo-charge our recovery,” Mr Perrottet said.

“That doesn’t mean abandoning our firm commitment to fiscal responsibility. This Budget includes measures to chart a course back to surplus by 2024-25, and a strong economic recovery will support that goal.”

The Budget takes the next steps to secure greater prosperity for current and future generations, continuing to deliver large-scale infrastructure to build a better future, investing in our people through education and skills, and securing the quality services everyone in NSW can rely on.

Employers will get a major recovery boost with $2.8 billion in payroll tax cuts including increasing the threshold to $1.2 million to lower the cost of creating jobs, and businesses that are under the payroll tax threshold will receive $1,500 vouchers to cover government fees.

A new push to cut red tape will make it easier to run a business, and through the Government’s Jobs Plus initiative we will support companies who want to relocate their head offices to NSW or expand their jobs footprint in NSW.

The Budget also supports a broad-ranging reform agenda including planning, education and digital reform, and examining reform to the state’s property tax system.

The record investment in this Budget sets us up for a prosperous, post-pandemic NSW

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Birth control and high blood pressure: Which methods are safe for you?

Three effective forms of birth control contain the hormone estrogen: the birth control patch, combined hormonal birth control pills, and a vaginal ring. Doctors have typically recommended that women avoid birth control with estrogen if they have high blood pressure, which current US guidelines define as 130 mm Hg systolic pressure and 80 mm Hg diastolic pressure, or higher. A recent clinical update in JAMA clarifies whether it’s safe for some women with high blood pressure to use these forms of birth control.

Why does blood pressure matter when choosing birth control?

Birth control containing estrogen can increase blood pressure. When women who have high blood pressure use these birth control methods, they have an increased risk of stroke and heart attack compared with women who do not have high blood pressure. However, their actual chances of having a stroke or a heart attack are still quite low.

When considering birth control options, it’s important to also weigh the possible risks of an unintended pregnancy. A woman who has a history of high blood pressure before she becomes pregnant is more likely to experience

  • preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication that can affect liver and kidney function and can even lead to eclampsia, or seizures
  • diabetes during pregnancy
  • blood clots
  • heart attack

She’s also at higher risk for problems with fetal growth and preterm birth.

Why are recommendations around blood pressure and birth control being updated?

When US blood pressure guidelines changed in 2017, many more people were diagnosed with high blood pressure. That happened because the new guidelines tightened standards, as follows:

  • normal blood pressure is less than 120 (systolic)/80 (diastolic) mm Hg
  • elevated blood pressure is between 120 and 129 mm Hg (systolic) and less than 80 mm Hg (diastolic)
  • high blood pressure is 130 mm Hg (systolic) and 80 mm Hg (diastolic) or higher.

With these updated definitions, nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure. Black women are at particularly high risk: more than half of Black women over the age of 19 are diagnosed with high blood pressure.

If a woman has high blood pressure, the JAMA update recommends weighing three factors before starting an estrogen-containing birth control: a woman’s age, control of blood pressure, and any other risks for heart disease.

  • Safe to use birth control containing estrogen: If women are 35 years old or younger, have well controlled blood pressure, and are healthy, estrogen-containing birth control can be used. Be sure to have a health professional check blood pressure within one month of starting this type of birth control. Additionally, routine blood pressure checks are recommended twice a year.
  • Should avoid birth control containing estrogen: If women are older than 35, even if they have well controlled blood pressure, estrogen-containing birth control should be avoided. Similarly, women of any age who have multiple risk factors for heart disease or who have uncontrolled high blood pressure should not use birth control containing estrogen. These women also should not use the birth control shot (Depo-Provera) because it may increase cholesterol and lead to an increased risk of stroke, according to the review. (This medication contains a different hormone called progestin.)

The JAMA update reviewed evidence based on an older definition of high blood pressure in the context of birth control use. Further research is needed to better understand how different ranges of blood pressure might affect women using birth control that contains estrogen. However, it’s unlikely that these recommendations would change further based on the newer definition of high blood pressure.

Which birth control methods do not contain estrogen?

So, what can women who are unable to use birth control containing estrogen use to prevent pregnancy? The good news is that there are a variety of other birth control methods available, both hormonal and nonhormonal.

  • The most reliable forms of birth control without estrogen are the copper intrauterine device (IUD), the hormonal IUD, the implant, and sterilization for women or men.
  • Nonhormonal methods include the copper IUD, condoms for men or women, cervical cap, and diaphragm.
  • Three progestin-only hormonal methods are safe to use: the minipill, the birth control implant, or the hormonal IUD. However, the birth control shot (Depo-Provera) is not recommended for women who have poorly controlled high blood pressure.

If you do have high blood pressure, exercise and dietary changes remain an important component of maintaining your heart health. Discuss with your doctor which birth control options might be best for you, so that you and your doctor can engage in shared decision-making about your preferences.

See the Harvard Health Birth Control Center for more information on options.

The post Birth control and high blood pressure: Which methods are safe for you? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

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Under-pressure Wales coach Pivac safe

Wales rugby coach Wayne Pivac says there has been no discussion over his future despite a run of five successive defeats and the surprise departure of his defence coach at the weekend.

Byron Hayward left his post after what Pivac said had been a “tough and difficult conversation” following a poor Six Nations campaign in which Wales lost four matches out of five and finished second-bottom of the standings.

“But there has been no conversation around my future and the future of any of the (other) coaches after these results,” he told a news conference on Monday.

New Zealand-born Pivac, 58, said his objective remained to build a side capable of winning the next World Cup in 2023.

“Obviously we’re not entirely happy with the results but, from my point of view, the pressure is always on because we are very competitive and we want to win all the time,” he said.

Pivac took over from Warren Gatland after the last World Cup in Japan, where Wales were semi-finalists, and began the Six Nations with a 42-0 victory over Italy on February 1, only to then lose to Ireland, France and England.

“We were three tries each with England and with France in games we could have won and I don’t think going into the (COVID-19 enforced) break, we were too far off with the changes we were making.”

But after the resumption of Test rugby last month, Wales lost a warm-up test to France and finished their Six Nations schedule with a home defeat by Scotland.

Former Wales flyhalf Hayward, who joined Pivac’s coaching staff in November last year, departed by mutual agreement.

“The decision in relation to Byron was one I took and I informed the necessary people at the time … I can see that it looks a mess, but what matters is staying focused on a daily basis,” Pivac earlier told British media.

“The decision was made because we were not heading in the right direction with the defence. Byron has not been made a scapegoat because we always put the team first. It was a tough call, but I stand by it.”

Wales will now meet Ireland, Georgia and England in the Autumn Nations Cup this month.

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