OSHA revises beryllium standard for general industry


Photo: JacobH/iStockphoto

Washington — OSHA has finalized revisions to its beryllium standard for general industry. Announced July 13, the final rule includes changes to five definitions and the addition of one new definition – beryllium sensitization.

Beryllium is a lightweight metal that can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer and chronic beryllium disease – also known as berylliosis.

The revised definitions address:

  • Beryllium work areas
  • Chronic beryllium disease
  • A chronic beryllium disease diagnostic center
  • Confirmed positive
  • Dermal contact with beryllium

Additional revisions include methods of compliance, personal protective clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, housekeeping, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping. A new Appendix A is “designed to supplement the final standard’s definition of beryllium work area,” the notice states.

The compliance date for these changes is Sept. 14.

OSHA announced proposed alterations to its beryllium standards for the construction and shipyard industries on Sept. 30.

COVID-19 pandemic: OSHA answers FAQs on protecting workers


Photo: Maica/iStockphoto

Washington — OSHA has published on its website answers to more than 40 frequently asked questions on protecting workers from exposure to COVID-19.

Based on inquiries received from the public, the FAQs cover a wide range of topics, including testing, cleaning and disinfection, employer requirements, personal protective equipment, returning to work, training, and worker protection concerns.

“OSHA is committed to giving employers and workers the information they need to work safely in this rapidly changing situation,” acting OSHA administrator Loren Sweatt said in a July 2 press release.

The FAQ guidance is part of a series of OSHA publications on COVID-19. The agency previously issued guidelines on preparing workplaces for COVID-19 and returning to work.

U.S. Department of Labor Using Public Service Announcements and Billboards to Promote Worker Safety and Health Amid Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has undertaken a public service messaging effort to remind workers that the agency is committed to ensuring their safety and health during the coronavirus pandemic.

OSHA is using public service audio announcements in English and Spanish, as well as bilingual digital and print billboard messaging, to encourage employees to contact OSHA with their concerns about workplace safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. Billboards will appear in states under federal OSHA jurisdiction.

The billboards and announcements are OSHA’s latest efforts to educate and protect American workers and help employers provide healthy workplaces as the coronavirus pandemic evolves. OSHA has published numerous alerts and advisories for various industries, including Guidance on Returning to Work, which assists employers as they reopen businesses and employees return to work.

Visit OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage frequently for updates. For further information about coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Guidance to Employers to Help Protect Oil and Gas Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released coronavirus-related guidance to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus for oil and gas workers.

Employers with workers engaged in the oil and gas industry should remain alert to changing conditions, and implement infection prevention measures accordingly. The guidance includes information regarding:

  • Deferring work requiring close contact with others, if that work can be postponed;
  • Configuring communal work environments so that workers are spaced at least 6 feet apart;
  • Staggering workers’ arrival, break and departure times;
  • Ensuring adequate ventilation in work areas to help minimize potential exposures;
  • Implementing other appropriate engineering, administrative and work practice controls, and use of appropriate personal protective equipment; and
  • Encourage workers to wear face coverings as a source control to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

Visit OSHA’s coronavirus webpage frequently for updates. For further information about the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

OSHA moves National Safety Stand-Down to September


Photo: OSHA

Washington — OSHA has rescheduled the seventh annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction for Sept. 14-18.

The event initially was set for May 4-8, but was postponed March 27 over concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It now will coincide with Construction Safety Week, which also was recently rescheduled for Sept. 14-18.

Speaking during a July 2 webinar hosted by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, OSHA Directorate of Construction Director Scott Ketcham said the agency and its partners in the stand-down – NIOSH and CPWR – “are going to be working on getting information out to you as stakeholders on how to do a falls stand-down in a COVID environment” that includes physical distancing and other precautionary measures.

Falls are among the leading causes of fatal workplace injuries among construction workers. OSHA “encourages employers to remain vigilant and to use all available resources to enhance worker safety.” According to the agency, millions of construction workers have participated in the campaign since the stand-down began in 2014, with events having occurred in all 50 states and internationally.

New OSHA directive details enforcement of silica standards


Image: simazoran/iStockphoto

Washington — Seeking “uniformity” in the enforcement of its silica standards, OSHA has published an instructional directive for its compliance safety and health officers.

Dated June 25, the directive outlines inspection procedures for addressing respirable crystalline silica exposures in general industry, maritime and construction. The directive guides OSHA inspectors on the enforcement of the silica standards’ requirements, which include:

  • Methods of compliance
  • Exposure assessments
  • Table 1 tasks and specified exposure control methods
  • Housekeeping
  • Communication of hazards
  • Respiratory protection
  • Regulated areas
  • Recordkeeping
  • Employee information and training
  • Medical surveillance

“The directive also provides clarity on major topics, such as alternative exposure control methods when a construction employer does not fully and properly implement Table 1, variability in sampling, multiemployer situations, and temporary workers,” a June 26 agency press release states.

The standards call for a permissible exposure limit of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an 8-hour time-weighted average. As of June 23, general industry and maritime employers must offer medical surveillance to all employees who are exposed to the silica standard’s “action level” of 25 micrograms per cubic meter for 30 or more days a year.

Hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry have until June 23, 2021, to comply with OSHA requirements for the standard’s engineering controls.

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Guidance to Ensure Uniform Enforcement of Silica Standards

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a compliance directive designed to ensure uniformity in inspection and enforcement procedures when addressing respirable crystalline silica exposures in general industry, maritime, and construction.

The new directive provides OSHA compliance safety and health officers with guidance on how to enforce the silica standards’ requirements, including:

  • Methods of compliance;
  • Table 1 tasks and specified exposure control methods;
  • Exposure assessments;
  • Housekeeping;
  • Respiratory protection;
  • Regulated areas;
  • Recordkeeping;
  • Employee information and training;
  • Medical surveillance; and
  • Communication of hazards.

The directive also provides clarity on major topics, such as alternative exposure control methods when a construction employer does not fully and properly implement Table 1, variability in sampling, multi-employer situations, and temporary workers.

OSHA began enforcing most provisions of the construction standard in September 2017, with enforcement of the requirements for sample analysis starting in June 2018. Enforcement of most of the general industry and maritime standards began in June 2018, with enforcement of some medical surveillance requirements commencing on June 23, 2020. On June 23, 2021, OSHA will begin enforcing requirements for engineering controls for hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry.

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.

COVID-19 pandemic: OSHA creates guidelines for reopening ‘nonessential’ businesses


Photo: RichLegg/iStockphoto

Washington — As “nonessential” businesses across the country get ready to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA is offering guidance on protecting returning workers

The document lays out a three-phase reopening strategy. It lists recommendations for each phase and provides examples of how to implement hazard assessments, controls, hygiene practices, physical distancing, identification and isolation of ill employees, and training, among other topics.

“For all phases of reopening, employers should develop and implement policies and procedures that address preventing, monitoring for and responding to any emergence or resurgence of COVID-19 in the workplace or community,” OSHA states.

The document has a set of FAQs and answers, as well as applicable OSHA standards and required workplace protections.

“OSHA recommends that employers continually monitor federal, state and local government guidelines for updated information about ongoing community transmission and mitigation measures, as well as for evolving guidance on disinfection and other best practices for worker protection,” a June 18 press release states.

COVID-19 pandemic: DOL inspector general identifies top issues for OSHA, MSHA

Washington — Responding to the “significant increase” in worker and whistleblower complaints complaints during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with completing inspections and investigations – all in a timely manner – are among the challenges facing OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

In a three-page report published June 17, the Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General asserts that OSHA has “limited resources” to provide clear and relevant coronavirus-related guidance, as well as protect workers who report safety concerns.

For essential workers who are at high risk of exposure – including those in health care, meat processing, agriculture and manufacturing – the nature of work and inherent barriers to physical distancing make it “particularly difficult” to provide protection. “Further, unless proper precautions are taken, avoidable COVID-19 infections and deaths may occur as more people return to work,” the report adds. “OSHA is challenged in fulfilling its mission due to resource constraints and the urgency of actions required.”

Meanwhile, MSHA is challenged by agency and state travel restrictions, hindering its ability to complete inspections and investigations in a timely manner, DOL OIG contends. It notes that MSHA is focusing its efforts on the four “highest-risk” mandatory annual inspections of underground mines and the two mandatory annual inspections of surface mines.

“Both mandatory and discretionary inspections to address specific mine safety concerns are at risk of not being conducted due to COVID-19,” the report states.

DOL OIG adds that miners with preexisting health conditions, such as respiratory disease, “are especially vulnerable” to COVID-19.

The report is part of a collection of reports from OIGs overseeing agencies involved in the pandemic response released by the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which was established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Seven Steps to Correctly Wear a Respirator at Work Poster


OSHA’s poster that shows employers and workers how to properly wear and remove a respirator is now available in 16 languages.

Seven Steps to Correctly Wear a Respirator at Work Poster

OSHA 4015 – 2020) English: PDF

(OSHA 4016 – 2020) Spanish: PDF

(OSHA 4036 – 2020) Arabic: PDF

(OSHA 4037 – 2020) Brazilian Portuguese: PDF

(OSHA 4032 – 2020) Chinese Simplified: PDF

(OSHA 4031 – 2020) Chinese Traditional: PDF

(OSHA 4034 – 2020) French Creole: PDF

(OSHA 4041 – 2020) Hmong: PDF

(OSHA 4039 – 2020) Korean: PDF

(OSHA 4043 – 2020) Kunama: PDF

(OSHA 4038 – 2020) Polish: PDF

(OSHA 4040 – 2020) Russian: PDF

(OSHA 4044 – 2020) Somali: PDF

(OSHA 4033 – 2020) Tagalog: PDF

(OSHA 4042 – 2020) Thai: PDF

(OSHA 4035 – 2020) Vietnamese: PDF