U.S. Department of Labor Adopts Revised Enforcement Policies For Coronavirus

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has adopted revised policies for enforcing OSHA’s requirements with respect to coronavirus as economies reopen in states throughout the country.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, understanding about the transmission and prevention of infection has improved. The government and the private sector have taken rapid and evolving measures to slow the virus’s spread, protect employees, and adapt to new ways of doing business.

Now, as states begin reopening their economies, OSHA has issued two revised enforcement policies to ensure employers are taking action to protect their employees.

First, OSHA is increasing in-person inspections at all types of workplaces. The new enforcement guidancereflects changing circumstances in which many non-critical businesses have begun to reopen in areas of lower community spread. The risk of transmission is lower in specific categories of workplaces, and personal protective equipment potentially needed for inspections is more widely available. OSHA staff will continue to prioritize COVID-19 inspections, and will utilize all enforcement tools as OSHA has historically done.

Second, OSHA is revising its previous enforcement policy for recording cases of coronavirus. Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, coronavirus is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of the coronavirus, if the case:

Under the new policy issued today, OSHA will enforce the recordkeeping requirements of 29 CFR 1904for employee coronavirus illnesses for all employers. Given the nature of the disease and community spread, however, in many instances it remains difficult to determine whether a coronavirus illness is work-related, especially when an employee has experienced potential exposure both in and out of the workplace. OSHA’s guidance emphasizes that employers must make reasonable efforts, based on the evidence available to the employer, to ascertain whether a particular case of coronavirus is work-related.

Recording a coronavirus illness does not mean that the employer has violated any OSHA standard. Following existing regulations, employers with 10 or fewer employees and certain employers in low hazard industries have no recording obligations; they need only report work-related coronavirus illnesses that result in a fatality or an employee’s in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye. 

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.

OSHA Issues Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of COVID-19

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued interim guidance for enforcing OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements (29 CFR Part 1904) as it relates to recording cases of COVID-19.

Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19, if the case:

  • Is confirmed as a COVID-19 illness;
  • Is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
  • Involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.

In areas where there is ongoing community transmission, employers other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions may have difficulty making determinations about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work. Accordingly, until further notice, OSHA will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements to require these employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where: (1) There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related; and (2) The evidence was reasonably available to the employer. Employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions must continue to make work-relatedness determinations pursuant to 29 CFR Part 1904. 

OSHA’s enforcement policy will provide certainty to the regulated community and help employers focus their response efforts on implementing good hygiene practices in their workplaces and otherwise mitigating COVID-19’s effects.

For further information and resources about the coronavirus disease, please visit OSHA’s COVID-19 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 Publishes Amendments and Technical Corrections to OSHA Standards

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published technical corrections and amendments to 27 OSHA standards and regulations. This administrative rulemaking corrects minor misprints, omissions, outdated references, and tabular and graphic inaccuracies. The revisions apply to several industry sectors, including general industry, construction, shipyard employment and longshoring. Some revisions may reduce employer costs, and none expand employer obligations or impose new costs.

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’s OSHA Requests Information on Table 1 of the Silica Standard for Construction

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is requesting information and comment on Table 1 of the agency’s Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction. OSHA seeks information on additional engineering and work practice control methods to effectively limit exposure to silica for the equipment and tasks currently listed on Table 1. The agency is also requesting information about other construction equipment and tasks that generate silica that it should consider adding to Table 1, along with information about their associated engineering and work practice control methods.

In addition, OSHA is seeking comments about whether to revise paragraph (a)(3) of the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry to broaden the circumstances under which general industry and maritime employers would be permitted to comply with Table 1 of the silica standard for construction.

Information submitted will allow OSHA to consider new developments and enhanced control methods for equipment that generates exposures to silica, and provide additional data on exposures to silica from equipment and tasks using a variety of control methods under different workplace conditions. Expanding Table 1 to include additional engineering and work practice control methods, equipment, and tasks could provide employers with more flexibility and reduce regulatory burdens while maintaining protections for employees.

If information submitted in response to this request indicates that revisions to the silica standards are needed, the agency will then publish the proposed revisions in the Federal Register for public comment.

Comments must be submitted by October 14, 2019. Comments and materials may be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, or by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. 

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 American 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 Kicks Off Safe + Sound Week on August 12

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will join businesses and organizations nationwide to recognize the importance and successes of workplace safety and health programs during Safe + Sound Week, August 12-18, 2019.

The week-long event encourages employers to implement workplace safety initiatives, and highlight workers’ contributions to improving safety. Businesses that incorporate safety and health programs can help prevent injuries and illnesses, reduce workers’ compensation costs, and improve productivity.

“Leadership commitment matters and demonstrates workplace safety is a priority,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “Safe + Sound Week reminds employers that safety and health programs help businesses save money, eliminate injuries, and most importantly save lives.”

Organizations of any size or in any industry looking for an opportunity to show their commitment to safety to workers, customers, the public, or supply chain partners should participate. Learn more about how to help plan and promote safety and health plans.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

National Fall Prevention Safety Stand-Down Scheduled for May 6-10

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is joining with occupational safety organizations for the 6th annual National Fall Prevention Safety Stand-Down, May 6-10, 2019. The week-long event will focus attention on preventing falls in construction, the leading cause of fatalities in the industry.

The national stand-down encourages employers and workers to pause voluntarily during the workday for safety demonstrations, training in hazard recognition and fall prevention, and talks about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies, goals and expectations.

“Falls can be prevented when employers train and educate workers about these hazards properly and provide appropriate protection,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “This should be a priority during the first week of May and must be a priority every day. OSHA has tools readily available for employers and workers to address the prevention of fall hazards.”

OSHA anticipates thousands of work sites and millions of workers to observe the stand down worldwide in 2019. To help guide their efforts, the Agency’s fall prevention webpage provides information on how to conduct a successful event, and educational resources in English and Spanish, including:

  • A series of fall safety videos that demonstrate how to prevent fall hazards from floor openings, skylights, fixed scaffolds, bridge decking, reroofing, and leading edge work.
  • OSHA’s Fall Prevention Training Guide that provides a lesson plan for employers, including several Toolbox Talks.
  • Fact sheets on ladders and scaffolding that describe the safe use of these types of equipment while performing construction activities.
  • A brief video, 5 Ways to Prevent Workplace Falls, encourages employers to develop a fall prevention plan, and to provide workers with fall protection and training.

Employers are encouraged to provide feedback after their events, and to 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 (CPWR). To learn more about preventing falls in construction, visit OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign page.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Rule on Crane Operator Certification Requirements

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a final rule that clarifies certification requirements for crane operators, and maintains the employer’s duty to ensure that crane operators can safely operate the equipment. The final rule will maintain safety and health protections for workers while reducing compliance burdens.

Under the final rule, employers are required to train operators as needed to perform assigned crane activities, evaluate them, and document successful completion of the evaluations. Employers who have evaluated operators prior to December 9, 2018, will not have to conduct those evaluations again, but will only have to document when those evaluations were completed.

The rule also requires crane operators to be certified or licensed, and receive ongoing training as necessary to operate new equipment. Operators can be certified based on the crane’s type and capacity, or type only, which ensures that more accredited testing organizations are eligible to meet OSHA’s certification program requirements. The final rule revises a 2010 requirement that crane operator certification must specify the rated lifting capacity of cranes for which the operator is certified. Compliant certifications that were already issued by type and capacity are still acceptable under this final rule.

The final rule, with the exception of the evaluation and documentation requirements, will become effective on Dec. 9, 2018. The evaluation and documentation requirements will become effective on February 7, 2019.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

 

U.S. Department of Labor Kicks Off Safe + Sound Week August 13

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) encourages Americans to commit to workplace safety and health by participating in Safe + Sound Week, August 13-19, 2018.

More than 200 organizations and businesses are partnering with OSHA to promote the importance of safety and health programs. Implementing a safety and health program is one of the most effective ways to reduce injuries and illnesses, and improve business. Effective programs can increase worker satisfaction, improve productivity, and reduce costs associated with workplace injuries.

Establishing a safety and health program is simple. Some steps to get started include worker training, hazard identification, and seeking worker input to maintaining safety on the job.

Participating in Safe + Sound Week is easy. Organizations of any size or in any industry looking for an opportunity to show their commitment to safety can participate. Start by visiting www.osha.gov/safeandsoundweek for more information, resources, and tools to help plan and promote safety events.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

OSHA Extends Deadline for Electronically Submitted Injury, Illness Reports

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will continue accepting 2016 OSHA Form 300A data through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) until midnight on Dec. 31, 2017. OSHA will not take enforcement action against those employers who submit their reports after the Dec. 15, 2017, deadline but before Dec. 31, 2017, final entry date. Starting Jan. 1, 2018, the ITA will no longer accept the 2016 data.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.