U.S. Department of Labor Seeks Members to Serve on Committee For Improving Construction Workers’ Safety and Health

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is accepting nominations for individuals to serve on the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health. The 15-member group advises the Secretary of Labor and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health on developing standards and policies affecting the construction industry.

OSHA is seeking nominations for 14 members with experience and expertise in construction-related safety and health issues to fill five employee, five employer, two state safety and health agency, and two public representative vacancies. The members generally serve two-year staggered terms, except the representative designated by the Department of Health and Human Services and appointed by the Secretary of Labor, who serves indefinitely.

Nominations may be submitted at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal, by mail, or facsimile. Read the Federal Register notice for submission details. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 8, 2021.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls Rescheduled for September 14-18

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that the 7th annual National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction has been rescheduled for September 14-18, 2020. While OSHA postponed the event earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the agency continues to encourage employers to promote fall safety virtually or while employing social distancing practices among small groups.

OSHA is partnering with other safety organizations in 2020 to encourage employers to provide safety demonstrations on fall protection equipment, conduct talks regarding fall-related hazards, safety policies, goals and expectations, and promote the event by using the #StandDown4Safety on social media.

“This national initiative brings much needed attention to falls, which continue to be the leading cause of fatalities in construction,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “Since OSHA began doing fall prevention stand-down events six years ago, nearly 10 million workers have been reached by our message that falls are preventable. These efforts have been successful in raising awareness of the recognition, evaluation, and control of fall hazards.”

Extensive resources are available on OSHA’s Fall Prevention Stand-Down webpage at http://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown and are presented in various languages, including English, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese. Resources include a brief video entitled “5 Ways to Prevent Workplace Falls,” which encourages employers to educate and train workers on fall protection equipment; a series of fall prevention publications, with an emphasis on construction, and fall prevention videos; OSHA’s Fall Prevention Training Guide, which provides a lesson plan for employers, including several Toolbox Talks; and guidance on ladder and scaffolding safety.

Employers are also encouraged to provide feedback after their events, and obtain a personalized certificate of participation.

The national safety stand-down is part of OSHA’s fall prevention campaign, and was developed in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, National Occupational Research Agenda, and The Center for Construction Research and Training.

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.

OSHA Issues Frequently Asked Questions About Face Coverings, Masks and Respirators in the Workplace

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a series of frequently asked questions and answers regarding the use of masks in the workplace.

“As our economy reopens for business, millions of Americans will be wearing masks in their workplace for the first time,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “OSHA is ready to help workers and employers understand how to properly use masks so they can stay safe and healthy in the workplace.”

The new guidance outlines the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks and respirators. It further reminds employers not to use surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed. In addition, the guidance notes the need for social distancing measures, even when workers are wearing cloth face coverings, and recommends following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on washing face coverings.

These frequently asked questions and answers mark the latest guidance from OSHA addressing protective measures for workplaces during the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, OSHA published numerous guidance documents for workers and employers, available at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/, including five guidance documents aimed at expanding the availability of respirators.

For further information and resources about the coronavirus disease, please visit OSHA’s coronavirus webpage.

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.

U.S. Department of Labor Announces OSHA Interim Enforcement Response Plan to Protect Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced an interim enforcement response plan for the coronavirus pandemic. The response plan provides instructions and guidance to OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports. 

During the coronavirus outbreak, OSHA Area Offices will utilize their inspection resources to fulfill mission essential functions and protect workers exposed to the disease. The response plan contains interim procedures that allow flexibility and discretion for field offices to maximize OSHA’s impact in securing safe workplaces in this evolving environment. 

“OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers during this challenging time in our nation’s history,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt said. “Today’s guidance outlines commonsense procedures for investigating complaints related to the coronavirus, while also ensuring the safety of workers, employers, and inspectors.”

The response plan outlines procedures for addressing reports of workplace hazards related to the coronavirus. Fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to the coronavirus will be prioritized for on-site inspections. The response plan contains procedures and sample documentation for CSHOs to use during coronavirus-related inspections. Workers requesting inspections, complaining of coronavirus exposure, or reporting illnesses may be protected under one or more whistleblower statutes and will be informed of their protections from retaliation.

This memorandum will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice. It is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis. Check OSHA’s webpage at www.osha.gov/coronavirusfrequently for updates.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

U.S. Department Of Labor Announces New Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Implementation

The U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) posted a temporary rule issuing regulations pursuant to this new law, effective April 1, 2020.

FFCRA helps the United States combat the workplace effects of COVID-19 by reimbursing American private employers that have fewer than 500 employees with tax credits for the cost of providing employees with paid leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The law enables employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus. WHD administers the paid leave portions of the FFCRA.

“The FFCRA reflects a swift response by President Trump and Congress to the impact coronavirus is having on workers,” said Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “The bill provides unprecedented paid leave benefits to American workers affected by the virus, while ensuring that businesses are reimbursed dollar-for-dollar. This is one of a number of important actions being taken to protect and sustain workers and their families during this time of need.”

“With so many workers and so many employers struggling with the effects of these unprecedented conditions, this rule provides answers and relief,” said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton. “We remain committed to providing the information and tools required for employees and employers alike to be fully informed about their rights and protections under this new law.”

WHD posted a recorded webinar on April 3, 2020, to provide interested parties a more in-depth description and help them learn more about the FFCRA. To view the webinar visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.

WHD offers a number of plain-language compliance assistance materials to explain FFCRA’s benefits and requirements. Tools include a Fact Sheet for Employees and a Fact Sheet for Employers, available in both English and Spanish, and an expansive list of Questions and Answers addressing the questions WHD has most frequently received from stakeholders to date. Available guidance also includes two new posters, one for federal workers and one for all other employees, available in both English and Spanish, that will fulfill notice requirements for employers obligated to inform employees about their rights under this new law, Questions and Answers about posting requirements, and a Field Assistance Bulletin describing WHD’s 30-day non-enforcement policy.

WHD provides additional information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19 and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act at www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.

For more information about the laws enforced by the WHD, call 1-866-4US-WAGE, or visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.For further information about COVID-19, please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention