Government Affairs

GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS UPDATES – 11/11/2020

OSHA Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Related Inspections

Nov 11, 2020

COVID-19 continues to present challenges to safety professionals in protecting workers against exposure to the virus. New OSHA guidance provides employers insight into which OSHA standards have been most frequently cited during COVID-19-related inspections. The agency encourages employers to use this information to take additional steps to safeguard their employees.

These inspections were initiated following referrals, complaints and fatalities in settings and industries including nursing homes and long-term care settings and meat/poultry processing facilities.

The most frequent violations include:

  • Not performing appropriate fit testing of respirators
  • Failure to keep required records of work-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities
  • Improper storage of respirators and other PPE in a way that can damage, contaminate or deform the equipment
  • Not conducting an assessment to determine if COVID-19 hazards are present or likely to be present, requiring the use of a respirator and/or other PPE
  • Insufficient training on the safe use of respirators and/or other PPE in the workplace
  • Failure to establish, implement and update a written respiratory protection program with required site-specific procedures
  • Not providing a medical evaluation before workers are fit-tested or use a respirator

The guidance notes that while OSHA has temporarily exercised some enforcement discretion regarding respirators, employers must demonstrate and document good-faith efforts to comply with OSHA standards, as summarized in Understanding Compliance With OSHA’s Respiratory Standard During the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic.

Related LinksPandemic Challenges: How to Return to Work Safely – Online CourseCOVID-19 Challenges: A Case Study – WebinarCOVID-19: Return to Work Strategies – ArticleThree Keys to Addressing COVID-19 in the Workplace – Article and PodcastCDC Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Workplaces – ArticleVirginia Passes First-In-Nation Safety Standard for COVID-19 – Article

 

GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS UPDATES – 10/12/2020

  1. (October 9, 2020) U.S. Department of Labor Urges Workers, Employers and PublicTo Be Aware of Hazards After Hurricane Delta

ATLANTA, GA – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) urges response crews and residents in areas affected by Hurricane Delta to be aware of hazards created by flooding, power loss, structural damage, fallen trees, and storm debris.

Recovery efforts after the storm may involve hazards related to restoring electricity and communications, removing debris, repairing water damage, repairing or replacing roofs, and trimming trees. Only individuals with proper training, equipment, and experience should conduct recovery and cleanup activities.

Protective measures after a weather disaster should include:

  • Evaluating the work area for hazards;
  • Assessing the stability of structures and walking surfaces;
  • Ensuring fall protection when working on elevated surfaces;
  • Assuming all power lines are live;
  • Keeping portable generators outside;
  • Operating chainsaws, ladders and other equipment properly; and
  • Using personal protective equipment, such as gloves, hard hats, and hearing, foot and eye protection.

“Workers involved in storm cleanup can face a wide range of safety and health hazards,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer in Atlanta, Georgia. “Implementing safe work practices, using appropriate personal protective equipment and ensuring workers are properly trained can help minimize the risk of injuries and fatalities during storm cleanup operations.”

OSHA maintains a comprehensive webpage on hurricane preparedness and response with safety tips to help employers and workers, including an alert on keeping workers safe during flood cleanup. Individuals involved in response and recovery efforts may call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

 

  1. (October 2, 2020) U.S. Department of Labor Issues Guidance for Using Tight-FittingPowered Air Purifying Respirators Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued temporary guidance for enforcing initial and annual fit-testing requirements related to tight-fitting powered air-purifying respirators. The action marks the Department’s latest step to ensure the availability of respirators and follows President Donald J. Trump’s Memorandum on Making General Use Respirators Available.

The new enforcement discretion policy permits the use of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved tight-fitting powered air-purifying respirators for protection against the coronavirus when initial and/or annual fit testing is infeasible due to respirator and fit-testing supply shortages. The guidance applies to healthcare personnel and other workers in high or very high exposure risk activities.

The guidance does not apply to powered air-purifying respirators that:

  • Have not been approved by NIOSH;
  • Are used by any workers with low or medium exposure risk to the coronavirus;
  • Are used by any workers for protection against airborne hazards other than the coronavirus, such as chemical hazards; or
  • Are loose-fitting and do not require fit testing.

If respiratory protection must be used, employers may consider the use of alternative classes of respirators that provide equal or greater protection compared to a N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirator, such as N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, P95, P99, and P100 respirators and NIOSH-approved, non-disposable elastomeric respirators or powered air-purifying respirators, either loose-fitting or tight-fitting.

This interim guidance will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice. It is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis. Visit OSHA’s Coronavirus webpage regularly for updates. For further information about the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.