The ‘first step’: OSHA updates COVID-19 guidelines as Biden administration focuses on worker safety

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Turner Construction

Washington — OSHA has issued updated COVID-19 guidance for workplaces – the “first step” by the Biden administration and new OSHA leadership to address the pandemic.

“The guidance issued today is the first step in the process, but it’s certainly not the last step in that process,” Jim Frederick, OSHA’s acting administrator and the agency’s principal deputy assistant secretary, said Jan. 29 during a Department of Labor virtual news conference.

The updated guidance, titled Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace stems from an Executive Order signed by President Joe Biden on Jan. 21. In addition to issuing the updated guidance, the order directs OSHA to consider an emergency temporary standard related to COVID-19. If an ETS is considered necessary, the agency is instructed to issue one by March 15.

A little more than one week into his new job, Frederick said he wasn’t ready to commit to a clearer time frame or outline what a potential ETS would include.

“We do not have an outline of what an ETS might look like, should we consider to go there,” Frederick said. “That is something we’re deliberating about and we’ll be working on.”

In the updated guidance, OSHA replaces suggestive language with stronger language, such as employers “should implement” prevention programs to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus. Unlike a regulation, however, the guidelines provide no legal obligations for employers.

Steps employers should take to reduce transmission of COVID-19 among workers include adopting policies that encourage potentially infected workers to remain home without punishment for their absences. Workers also should have protection from retaliation for raising COVID-19-related concerns, and employers should communicate policies and procedures in every language spoken by their workforce.

Additionally, the guidance calls for hazard assessments and the identification of control measures that will limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The guidance includes information about physical distancing and face coverings, among other recommended measures, as well as the roles of employers and employees in COVID-19 responses. This includes considerations for workers who are at higher risk of severe illness, including older employees, “through supportive policies and practices.”

Other sections address the installation of barriers when physical distancing of 6 feet or more isn’t feasible, ventilation, personal protective equipment, good hygiene practices, and routine cleaning and disinfection.

“More than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and millions of people are out of work as a result of this crisis,” M. Patricia Smith, senior counselor to the labor secretary, said in a press release. “Employers and workers can help our nation fight and overcome this deadly pandemic by committing themselves to making their workplaces as safe as possible. The recommendations in OSHA’s updated guidance will help us defeat the virus, strengthen our economy, and bring an end to the staggering human and economic toll that the coronavirus has taken on our nation.”

Another step in the process is “streamlining” the COVID-19-related citation process, OSHA Senior Advisor Ann Rosenthal said during the news conference.

She said the previous administration had “so many levels of review for COVID-related citations that, generally, they were issued on the final day of the six-month statute of limitations.” The goals of the streamlined process, she added, are timely abatement of hazards and informing workers.


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.

FMCSA extends pandemic-related hours-of-service exemptions

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says temporary hours-of-service exemptions and other “regulatory relief” will continue for commercial motor vehicle drivers transporting items intended to assist in the COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts.

Announced Feb. 12, the extension of Emergency Declaration 2020-002, initially issued March 13 and expanded and modified multiple times, is scheduled to remain in effect through May 31.

Regulatory relief is extended to drivers who are transporting:

  • COVID-19 vaccines; constituent products; and medical supplies and equipment, including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines
  • Medical supplies and equipment for the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19
  • Supplies and equipment to help curb the spread of COVID-19, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of stores or distribution centers
  • Livestock and livestock feed

Drivers making routine commercial deliveries, “including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration,” are not covered under the exemption.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA and USDOT to 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.

US Department of Labor issues stronger workplace guidance on coronavirus

First published by OSHA

New OSHA guidance seeks to mitigate, prevent viral spread in the workplace

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus prevention program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. Last week, President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure.

Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” provides updated guidance and recommendations, and outlines existing safety and health standards. OSHA is providing the recommendations to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.

“More than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and millions of people are out of work as a result of this crisis. Employers and workers can help our nation fight and overcome this deadly pandemic by committing themselves to making their workplaces as safe as possible,” said Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Labor M. Patricia Smith. “The recommendations in OSHA’s updated guidance will help us defeat the virus, strengthen our economy and bring an end to the staggering human and economic toll that the coronavirus has taken on our nation.”

Implementing a coronavirus prevention program is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. The guidance announced today recommends several essential elements in a prevention program:

  • Conduct a hazard assessment.
  • Identify control measures to limit the spread of the virus.
  • Adopt policies for employee absences that don’t punish workers as a way to encourage potentially infected workers to remain home.
  • Ensure that coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English speaking workers.
  • Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.

“OSHA is updating its guidance to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus and improve worker protections so businesses can operate safely and employees can stay safe and working,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick.

The guidance details key measures for limiting coronavirus’s spread, including ensuring infected or potentially infected people are not in the workplace, implementing and following physical distancing protocols and using surgical masks or cloth face coverings. It also provides guidance on use of personal protective equipment, improving ventilation, good hygiene and routine cleaning.

OSHA will update today’s guidance as developments in science, best practices and standards warrant.

This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of existing mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content and are intended to assist employers in recognizing and abating hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm as part of their obligation to provide a safe and healthful workplace.


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.

Federal Mask Requirement for Surface Transportation Providers

First published by FMCSA.

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order imposing a mask requirement applicable to public transportation systems, rail, and van, bus and motorcoach service providers to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.  The CDC Order implements President Biden’s Executive Order 13998, Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, “to save lives and allow all Americans, including the millions of people employed in the transportation industry, to travel and work safely.”

Science-based measures are critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Mask-wearing is one of several proven life-saving measures including physical distancing, appropriate ventilation and timely testing that can reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Requiring masks will protect America’s transportation workers and passengers, help control the transmission of COVID-19, and aid in re-opening America’s economy.

In addition to the CDC order, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates issuing additional information and guidance on this topic.

The Department has posted a Frequently Asked Questions at this website. https://www.transportation.gov/safety/mask-travel-guidance

The Department will continue to add to this site with additional information in the coming days.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will be scheduling stakeholder calls beginning the week of February 1, 2021.

Please share the mask mandate information with colleagues and send questions to FMCSAMaskUp@dot.gov.

Links


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA and USDOT to 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.

COVID-19 Update – Resources for Essential Workers

First published by NIOSH.

COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers

A new communication toolkit is available to help employers build confidence in their workforce for this important new vaccine. The toolkit will help employers across various industries provide information about COVID-19 vaccines, increase awareness about vaccination benefits, and address common questions and concerns. The toolkit contains a variety of resources including key messages, FAQs, posters, newsletter content, and more. Partners are encouraged to adapt the key messages to the language, tone, and format that will resonate with the organizations and industries they serve.

Interim List of Categories of Essential Workers Mapped to Standardized Industry Codes and Titles

An interim list is now available to help state, local, tribal, and territorial officials and organizations prepare for the allocation of initially limited COVID-19 vaccine supply. The interim list maps essential industries to corresponding COVID-19 vaccination phases and workforce categories, as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

For More Information

For more information, please visit the COVID-19 webpage. To stay up to date on new developments, sign up for the COVID-19 newsletter.


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.

Virtual happy hour: Survey examines remote working and drinking

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

New York — Nearly half of remote employees have signed off early to have an alcoholic drink or have had a drink during the workday amid the COVID-19 pandemic, results of a recent survey indicate.

On behalf of sparkling water manufacturing company HOP WTR, researchers from marketing research company OnePoll surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults to examine their at-home habits during the pandemic. Of the respondents, around 800 were at least 21 years old and working from home. The researchers found that 46% of respondents said they’ve logged off early to have a drink, while 45% have had an alcoholic beverage while on the clock.

Overall, 53% said they’ve been drinking more frequently during the pandemic, at an average of four alcoholic drinks a week.

Other findings:

  • More than 60% of the respondents working remotely said virtual happy hours with co-workers have contributed to their increased alcohol intake.
  • 52% of all respondents said they’ve felt the need to drink while watching the news.
  • About 60% said they’ll try to drink less in the future.

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.

Using ventilation to reduce COVID-19 exposure: CDC creates webpage

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — A new webpage published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is intended to help employers and building managers improve the ventilation system in their facilities to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

CDC recommends ventilation as part of a “layered strategy” that includes physical distancing and use of facial coverings to help reduce the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 – in indoor air.

“The lower the concentration, the less likely some of those viral particles can be inhaled into your lungs; contact your eyes, nose and mouth; or fall out of the air to accumulate on surfaces,” the webpage states. “Protective ventilation practices and interventions can reduce the airborne concentration, which reduces the overall viral dose to occupants.”

The agency’s recommendations for improved ventilation include:

  • Increasing outdoor air ventilation, but use caution if your facility is in a highly polluted area.
  • Opening windows and doors to the outside, but only when weather conditions allow and doing so doesn’t create a safety or health risk (e.g., risk of falling or triggering asthma symptoms).
  • Using fans to improve the effectiveness of open windows. However, don’t place fans in a configuration that could cause potentially contaminated air to flow from one person to another. One strategy is to use a fan that’s placed safely and securely in a window.
  • Decreasing occupancy in areas where outdoor ventilation isn’t possible.
  • Making sure restroom exhaust fans are working at full capacity when a building is occupied.
  • Using a portable high-efficiency particulate air fan/filtration system to help enhance air cleaning, especially in high-risk areas such as a nurse’s office.

Additionally, CDC advises running HVAC systems at “maximum outside airflow” for two hours before and after a building is occupied. The agency’s webpage includes a set of strategies with corresponding estimated costs, as well as answers to list of frequently asked questions about building ventilation.


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.

Sedentary lifestyles proving a pain during the pandemic, survey finds

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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New York — The average U.S. adult now spends six hours a day sitting – four hours longer than before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – and they’re feeling more aches and pains because of it, results of a recent survey show.

Commissioned by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, researchers from marketing research company OnePoll surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults about changes in their at-home habits during the pandemic and health effects linked to those changes.

More than 3 out of 5 respondents said they have a more sedentary lifestyle now as a result of working from home and spending more time on social media and watching entertainment. About 60% of the respondents said they have developed more aches and pains thanks to the additional time sitting, while 75% of those working from home said their workstations are causing them pain and discomfort. In particular, 22% found themselves having backside pain or discomfort.

Additional sitting and inactivity also have led to changes in eating habits and added stress. When it comes to eating, 34% of the respondents said they’ve chosen fattier and unhealthy foods since the pandemic began.

The World Health Organization, which in November updated its physical activity guidelines, recommends adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity, each week.


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.

Almost 25% of workers say their employers don’t offer COVID-19 safety training: survey

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Image result for social distance and mask trainingBannockburn, IL — Nearly 1 out of 4 workers don’t receive training on COVID-19 safety guidelines, according to a recent survey commissioned by compliance company Stericycle.

Researchers in September surveyed 1,000 U.S. adult workers who physically go to work at companies with at least 100 employees and 450 U.S. business leaders of organizations with 100-plus employees. Results show that 58% of the business leaders and 38% of the employees are concerned about contracting COVID-19 at work.

Nearly half of the business leaders (41%) don’t believe they can enforce COVID-19 safety guidelines, and 44% of the employees are concerned about co-workers not following safety protocol. Other results:

  • 79% of workers said they’d look for a new job if their employer didn’t offer training on COVID-19 safety guidelines.
  • 34% of workers would look for a new job if their employer didn’t take specific safety measures, such as providing personal protective equipment or ensuring physical distancing.
  • 45% of business leaders don’t think their safety measures are sufficiently proactive.
  • 27% of employees have been asked to provide their own PPE.

When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, 24% of the employees said they wouldn’t feel safe working near a colleague who wasn’t vaccinated, and almost half of the business leaders (48%) plan to offer a COVID-19 vaccine. In December, the National Safety Council released a statement urging employers to develop a COVID-19 vaccination plan.


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 issues COVID-19 prevention guidelines for cleaning staff

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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Washington — A new guidance document from OSHA is intended to help cleaning staff reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19.

Beyond the standard recommendations of wearing a face covering, staying home when feeling ill, washing hands frequently and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance, OSHA says cleaning staff should:

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency-approved disinfectants or cleaning chemicals.
  • Wear disposable gloves to clean, sanitize and disinfect common surfaces.
  • Wipe equipment before and after use.
  • Use the warmest water level that is safe and dry laundry completely.
  • Avoid dry sweeping, if feasible, and the use of high-pressure streams of water.
  • Wash their clothes as soon as they get home, if possible.
  • OSHA also encourages workers to report any safety and health concerns to their supervisor.

    The document is available in English and Spanish.


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.