OSHA ETS on COVID-19 wouldn’t apply to most truckers

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Washington — The majority of truck drivers will be exempt from OSHA’s emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 vaccination, testing and masking, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said during a recent TV interview.

Should the ETS survive the multiple legal challenges it’s facing, it would apply to employers with more than 100 employees. Those employers would have until Dec. 5 to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy – or develop a policy that gives employees the choice to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

Meanwhile, covered employees would have a deadline of Jan. 4 to be fully vaccinated or begin undergoing weekly COVID-19 testing. Unvaccinated workers also would be required to wear a face covering while indoors or in a vehicle “with another person for work purposes.”

Reacting to concerns from trucking groups – including the American Trucking Associations – over the ETS, Walsh said during the interview on CNBC that “the ironic thing is most truckers aren’t covered by this because they’re driving a truck, they’re in a cab, they’re by themselves. They wouldn’t be covered by this.”

ATA and other groups fear that many drivers would leave the industry as a result of the ETS, amid a perceived shortage of drivers.

In a statement issued shortly after Walsh’s comments, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear called them “an enormous victory for our association and industry.”

Spear continued: “Given the nationwide shortage of truck drivers, it is vital that our industry has the relief it needs to keep critical goods moving, including food, fuel, medicine and the (COVID-19) vaccine itself.”

In a letter dated Oct. 21 and addressed to Sharon Block, acting administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Spear wrote that the association was “gravely concerned” about the impact the ETS would have on the industry, which he estimated could lead to a loss of “up to 37% of drivers to retirements, attrition to smaller carriers and/or conversion to independent contractor owner-operators.”

A Department of Labor spokesperson told CNBC that the vaccination, testing and masking requirements would apply to truck drivers who work in teams – such as two people in a cab – or those who “interact with people in buildings at their destinations or starting points.”


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment.

Biden nominates Christopher Williamson to head MSHA

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Photo property of MSHA
Washington — President Joe Biden has nominated Christopher Williamson to lead the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

If confirmed, Williamson, senior counsel to National Labor Relations Board Chair Lauren McFerran, would take over for acting administrator Jeannette Galanis. Former coal industry executive David Zatezalo was the agency’s most recent Senate-confirmed leader, serving from November 2017 until this past January.

According to a Nov. 12 White House press release, Williamson, a native of West Virginia, worked at MSHA during the Obama administration, advising the assistant secretary on agency policy, operations and communications. He also served as labor counsel to former Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) and as a legislative assistant to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“As labor counsel, he advised Chairman Harkin and committee members on labor, occupational and mine safety and health, and black lung benefits and other workers’ compensation issues,” the release states.

Before that, Williamson was an attorney-advisor for Administration Law Judge Jacqueline Bulluck at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. He earned his law degree from West Virginia University.

Williamson likely will appear before the Senate HELP Committee for a confirmation hearing. At press time, no date had been set.

In a statement released Nov. 12, United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts urges the Senate to confirm Williamson’s nomination as soon as possible.

“Chris Williamson is the most knowledgeable expert on mine safety and health in Washington today,” Roberts said. “His in-depth understanding of what it takes to keep miners safer and healthier at work is unmatched, and I expect that the Mine Safety and Health Administration will be a stronger advocate for miners under his watch.

“Chris comes from a mining background in West Virginia. Making sure that miners come home safely to their families each and every day is part of his very being.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

COVID-19 and OSHA recordkeeping

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
virus.jpg

Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Many employers have questions about OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements – and the criteria for recordability – regarding COVID-19.

This is especially true when trying to determine whether a case is work-related.

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

  1. Is confirmed to be COVID-19.
  2. Is work-related, as defined by 1904.5.
  3. Involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 1904.7.

First, the case must be a confirmed as COVID-19. This means the employee must test positive using one of the testing methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Next, the case must be work-related, as defined by 1904.5. According to the regulation, “work-related” means that an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a preexisting injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception in 1904.5(b)(2) specifically applies (see 1904.5).

OSHA defines the work environment as “the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment. The work environment includes not only physical locations, but also the equipment or materials used by the employee during the course of his or her work.”

Lastly, the case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 1904.7, as follows:

“You must consider an injury or illness to meet the general recording criteria, and therefore to be recordable, if it results in any of the following: death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness. You must also consider a case to meet the general recording criteria if it involves a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional, even if it does not result in death, days away from work, restricted work or job transfer, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Washington L&I publishes return-to-work toolkit for employers

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Photo: Washington State Department of Labor & Industries

new toolkit from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries offers employers resources they can use to help injured employees return to work as soon as medically possible, aid worker recovery and prevent long-term disability while reducing the financial burden of workers’ compensation claims.

The Return to Work Toolkit is a collection of resources, forms and best practices that provide a step-by-step explanation for improving how workplace injuries and return-to-work opportunities are managed within an organization.

According to Washington L&I, the longer an employee remains off work, the more difficult it is for that person to return to their original job and income. A strong return-to-work program can help employees get back to work quickly and safely.

The toolkit features tips on what to do before and after an injury, addresses job modifications and pre-job accommodations, and provides examples of 11 different forms. Templates and samples provided include:

  • Return-to-work policy statement
  • Employee incident form
  • First five steps of return to work
  • Return-to-work checklist for supervisors
  • Supervisor incident investigation report
  • Sample letter for the attending provider
  • Sample light-duty and permanent-duty job offer letters
  • Claim contacts

Additionally, the toolkit includes a list of employee and owner/manager/supervisor responsibilities during the process, along with those of an organization’s return-to-work coordinator.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

DOL OIG to audit MSHA’s inspection processes during pandemic

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Photo property of MSHA

Washington — The Department of Labor Office of Inspector General will conduct an audit of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s ability to complete required safety and health inspections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an audit notice dated Oct. 29 and addressed to MSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and acting administrator Jeannette Galanis, Carolyn Hantz, assistant inspector general for audit programs, requests copies of inspection reports and various other agency records, policies and procedures. These include:

  • National, regional and district documents applicable to COVID-19 adjustments or other process changes related to mandatory safety and health inspections
  • Criteria for assigning and changing mine status, including any business rules
  • More recent versions or pending changes to the MSHA Program Police Manual, Volume 1; supervisors’ handbooks; the MSHA Centralized Application System user manual; and the Inspection Application System user guide
  • Accountability audits, internal reviews and evaluations issued since Oct. 1, 2017, related to mine status classifications or changes, completion of mandatory inspections, or COVID-19

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 directs MSHA to inspect underground mines four times annually and surface mines twice a year.

The audit notice indicates that “work is expected to begin immediately” after a meeting between DOL OIG and an MSHA audit liaison “to discuss the audit objective, scope and methodology.”

A DOL spokesperson told Safety+Health that “MSHA is aware of the OIG audit of the COVID-19 impact on MSHA’s mandatory inspection program and will comply with the request for information.”

During a Sept. 29 stakeholder conference call, Galanis said MSHA won’t require COVID-19 vaccination or weekly negative testing at the nation’s mines. She said the Mine Act gives MSHA the authority to issue hygiene-related citations and temporarily shut down mine operations at facilities in which the coronavirus is found to be spreading.

Agency officials on the call also pointed to updated MSHA guidance – issued in March – that advises mine operators at coal, metal and nonmetal mines to establish a virus protection program or augment an existing one. The guidance includes recommendations on the use of personal protective equipment, physical distancing strategies, improving ventilation, effective hygiene and routine cleaning.

“We must be able to inspect mines during COVID,” Galanis said, “and so our mine inspectors are doing their jobs and getting out there and trying to be as careful as possible.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Office spaces can be redesigned for greater wellness benefits, researchers say

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Tucson, AZ — Reimagined office spaces can help reduce worker stress and enhance overall well-being, a pair of University of Arizona researchers say in a recently published paper.

The researchers propose a framework based on seven areas for designing the built environment for well-being: resiliency, environment, movement, relationships, sleep, spirituality and nutrition.

Paper co-author Esther Sternberg, a professor of medicine and a member of the UA BIO5 Institute, drew on research conducted during her tenure with the General Services Administration. Those studies show that office layout can encourage workers to move more often, thereby reducing stress and improving sleep.

The paper cites many other studies, “such as those showing the sleep-improving effects of natural light, the well-being benefits of nature and the health benefits of proper building air circulation, which can improve cognitive functioning and reduce fatigue by reducing pollutants.”

Sternberg adds: “This paper is a merging of two fields: integrative health and the built environment. The concept of designing the built environment for physical health and emotional well-being has been around for decades, but wasn’t really the focus across all design fields until very recently.

“COVID-19 shone a very bright spotlight on designing for mental health because in the wake of the pandemic, there is a pandemic of mental health, of stress, of anxiety around the world. The built environment can play a very important role in reducing stress and enhancing all those elements of integrative health.”

The paper is scheduled for print in the November issue of the journal Building and Environment.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Half of Noise-Exposed Workers Do Not Use Hearing Protection

First published by NIOSH

Photo property of NIOSH

Study Finds Over Half of Noise-Exposed Workers Do Not Use Hearing Protection When Exposed to Noise on the Job

Non-use varied by industry and occupation, and was highest among women, young workers, and current smokers

A new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that over half of noise-exposed workers didn’t use hearing protection “always” or “usually” when exposed to hazardous occupational noise. Hearing protection device (HPD) non-use was only measured in workers who reported exposure to noise on the job. The study was published online October 1, 2021 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Researchers reviewed nearly 40,000 worker responses to the 2007 and 2014 National Health Interview Survey. They found that of the more than 5,400 workers who experience hazardous noise exposure at work, 53% didn’t “always” or “usually” wear hearing protection.

Industries with the highest prevalence of hearing protection device nonuse were accommodation and food services (90%), health care and social assistance (83%), and education services (82%). Prevalence also was notably high in multiple industries in which occupational noise is a longstanding hazard, including agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (74%) and construction (52%).

“The prevalence of HPD nonuse remains high,” Elizabeth Masterson, study co-author and NIOSH epidemiologist, said in the release. “Increasing worker awareness and providing training about the importance of proper and consistent used of HPDs can protect workers from the effects of hazardous noise. In addition, we need to overcome barriers to HPD use by ensuring that workers have HPDs that are comfortable and do not overprotect from noise so they can hear speech and other important workplace signals.”

The study was published online Oct. 1 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #31

First published by MSHA

MINE FATALITY – On November 1, 2021, an electrician with 25 years of mining experience was fatally injured while traveling down a mine slope.  He lost control of a four-passenger rubber-tired personnel carrier, and the vehicle crashed at the bottom of the slope, pinning the victim underneath.

Accident scene where an electrician with 25 years of mining experience was fatally injured while traveling down a mine slope.
Photo property of MSHA
Best Practices:
  • Immediately remove equipment from service when defects affecting safety are found.
  • Conduct adequate preoperational checks and weekly examinations of mobile electrical equipment.  Correct any defects affecting safety before operating mobile equipment.
  • Maintain control and stay alert when operating mobile equipment.
  • Maintain roadways free of excessive water, mud, and other conditions that impact an equipment operator’s ability to control mobile equipment.
  • Operate mobile equipment at speeds consistent with the conditions of roadways, grades, clearance, and visibility.
  • Never rely on Regenerative Braking as a substitute for keeping brakes properly maintained.
Additional Information:

This is the 31st fatality reported in 2021, and the 12th classified as “Powered Haulage”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Court issues stay of OSHA ETS on COVID-19 vaccination, testing

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Photo property of OSHA

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has put a temporary halt to OSHA’s emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 vaccination, testing and masking by granting an emergency motion Nov. 5.

The three judges granted the stay, pending an expedited review, because “the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the [ETS].” They also gave OSHA and the Department of Labor until 5 p.m. on Nov. 8 to respond to a request for a permanent injunction from the petitioners, which include Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, businesses, and religious and advocacy groups.

The suit is among a number of court challenges against the ETS, according to multiple sources.

On Oct. 29, the Supreme Court refused to block a vaccine mandate for health care workers in Maine. That same day, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision to block a vaccine mandate for health care workers in New York.

Similarly, in August, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett turned down an appeal from Indiana University students to block their school’s vaccination requirement.

OSHA published its ETS, which would apply to employers with at least 100 employees, in the Nov. 5 Federal Register. Covered employers would have until Dec. 5 to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy – or develop a policy that gives employees the choice to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

Covered employees would have a deadline of Jan. 4 to be fully vaccinated or begin undergoing weekly COVID-19 testing. Under the ETS, unvaccinated workers would be required to wear a face covering while indoors or in a vehicle “with another person for work purposes.”

The ETS directs employers to provide paid time off to receive a vaccine – up to four hours for each dose – and paid leave for any side effects from vaccinations. The 30 days would allow employers time to determine the vaccination status of employees and get any documentation in order, among other considerations. It also would give workers time to get their only dose or the first of two doses of a vaccine.

According to an OSHA fact sheet, the ETS wouldn’t apply to employees who work from home, work “exclusively outdoors” or don’t report to a workplace “where other individuals are present.”

During a Nov. 4 press conference, OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jim Frederick said many employers already are complying with the requirements of the ETS. He also noted that the agency chose the 100-employee threshold because employers with that many workers typically have the “administrative capacity” to implement the requirements of the ETS “promptly.”

He added: “We know that the vast majority of workplaces will comply with this rule.”

The ETS includes a 30-day comment period. One subject OSHA is seeking to learn more about is “the ability of employers with fewer than 100 employees to implement COVID-19 vaccination and/or testing programs.” This means the employee threshold could be adjusted in the future.

Frederick noted that the agency will provide “robust” compliance assistance along with outreach to companies.

In addition to the fact sheet on the ETS, OSHA has an ETS summary, a set of frequently asked questions and answers, and sample policies for employers.

In response to the ETS news, Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) announced that he’s leading an effort – with the support of at least 40 other lawmakers – to overturn the regulation under the Congressional Review Act. However, the CRA requires approval from both the House and Senate as well as a presidential signature, so the attempt is largely symbolic.

“This unacceptable federal directive impacts tens of millions of Americans and warrants review by Congress,” Braun said in a press release.

OSHA estimates that two-thirds of private-sector workers, or around 84 million, would be covered under the ETS, which would preempt any state laws, according to Department of Labor Solicitor Seema Nanda. State Plans would have to adopt standards that are “at least as effective as” federal OSHA’s.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

OSHA ETS sets deadline of Jan. 4 for worker vaccination

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

OSHA will officially publish its emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 vaccination and testing, which will apply to employers with more than 100 employees, in the Nov. 5 Federal Register.

Covered employers will have until Dec. 5 to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy – or develop a policy that gives employees the choice to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

Covered employees will have a deadline of Jan. 4 to be fully vaccinated or begin undergoing weekly COVID-19 testing. Unvaccinated workers also will be required to wear a face covering while indoors or in a vehicle “with another person for work purposes.”

The ETS directs employers to provide paid time off to receive a vaccine – up to four hours for each dose – and paid leave for any side effects from vaccinations. The 30 days will allow employers time to determine the vaccination status of employees and get any documentation in order, among other considerations. It also will give workers time to get their only dose or the first of two doses of a vaccine.

According to an OSHA fact sheet, the ETS won’t apply to employees who work from home, work “exclusively outdoors” or don’t report to a workplace “where other individuals are present.”

During a Nov. 4 press conference, OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jim Frederick said many employers already are complying with the requirements of the ETS. He also noted that the agency chose the 100-employee threshold because employers with that many workers typically have the “administrative capacity” to implement the requirements of the ETS “promptly.”

He added: “We know that the vast majority of workplaces will comply with this rule.”

The ETS includes a 30-day comment period. One subject OSHA is seeking to learn more about is “the ability of employers with fewer than 100 employees to implement COVID-19 vaccination and/or testing programs.” This means the employee threshold could be adjusted in the future.

Frederick noted that the agency will provide “robust” compliance assistance along with outreach to companies.

In addition to the fact sheet on the ETS, OSHA has an ETS summary, a set of frequently asked questions and answers, and sample policies for employers.

In response to the ETS news, Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) announced that he’s leading an effort – with the support of at least 40 other lawmakers – to overturn the regulation under the Congressional Review Act. However, the CRA requires approval from both the House and Senate as well as the president, so the attempt is largely symbolic.

“This unacceptable federal directive impacts tens of millions of Americans and warrants review by Congress,” Braun said in a press release.

OSHA estimates that two-thirds of private-sector workers, or around 84 million, will be covered under the ETS, which will preempt any state laws, according to Department of Labor Solicitor Seema Nanda. State Plans will have to adopt standards that are “at least as effective as” federal OSHA’s.

The ETS will likely face challenges in the courts. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced Oct. 29 that they would file a lawsuit against a similar vaccination requirement, from the Biden administration, for federal contractors. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R), as well as Alabama, Idaho, Kansas and West Virginia, have joined the suit.

Also on Oct. 29, the Supreme Court refused to block a vaccine mandate for health care workers in Maine. That same day, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision to block a vaccine mandate for health care workers in New York.

Similarly, in August, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett turned down an appeal from Indiana University students to block their school’s vaccination requirement.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.