Protecting construction workers during COVID-19

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.
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Photo: CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training

Silver Spring, MD — Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 on construction sites should be a team effort, OSHA Directorate of Construction Director Scott Ketcham said during a Feb. 25 webinar.

Hosted by OSHA, NIOSH, and CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, the event focused on helping construction employers and workers identify exposure risks and determine appropriate control measures.

Ketcham detailed how updated COVID-19 guidance issued by OSHA on Jan. 29 affects construction employers and workers. He also noted that safety professionals still need to contend with other hazards during the pandemic.

“Controlling this disease process with coronavirus and mitigating other hazards really takes all of us working together,” he said. “We all know that in the construction industry we have multiple trades working on a construction site for different companies. Coordination of efforts to make sure that we’re looking out for one another and protecting one another is important.”

Ketcham added that OSHA will use the multi-employer work policy to assess how contractors are following the guidance on construction sites.

Amanda Edens, deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health at OSHA, acknowledged that new and updated guidance can lead to confusion among federal agencies and employers.

“It’s challenging for OSHA and CDC to give guidance because science changes,” she said. “And it’s challenging for employers too because they’re trying to keep up with what we’re learning as we go.”

Edens said worker safety issues such as trenching and cranes have remained a priority throughout the pandemic, and topped by those related to COVID-19.

“The bread-and-butter work of the agency continues,” she said. “We still have a lot of construction work to get done, even if COVID wasn’t around. But it is, so we have to do that work and do it in a COVID environment.”

Timothy Irving, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, encouraged employers to consider the mental health needs of workers as he discussed nontraditional hazards.

“OSHA might not be the first federal agency you think of when you hear about nontraditional workplace conditions – PTSD, drug use, suicide and other mental health issues,” he said. “But our mission is to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths.”

OSHA’s suicide prevention webpage provides multiple resources to assist workers who might be in crisis. When providing resources to workers, Irving said employers should consider a wide variety of helpful information.

“When you share health and safety resources, be aware that mental health is a part of health and safety,” he said.


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.

U.S. Department of Transportation Launches “Mask Up” Campaign

First published by USDOT.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation announced today the “Mask Up,” campaign to help ensure the safety of transportation workers. The campaign is a joint effort by the Federal Aviation, Motor Carrier Safety, Railroad and Transit Administrations across all forms of transportation. The centerpiece of the campaign is a digital toolkit including posters, social media, FAQs and other resources.

“Throughout the pandemic, transportation workers have played a vital role connecting Americans to their jobs, keeping goods moving, and ensuring that vaccines get to where they’re needed,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With this campaign, we’ll send a clear message to people who travel: When you wear a mask, you’re protecting the safety of our essential transportation workers, your fellow passengers, and yourself.”

The campaign is aimed at educating travelers and transportation providers on their responsibility to comply with wearing a mask when traveling. Wearing a mask on all public transportation, including buses, trains, airplanes, and ferries, and while at all transportation hubs, helps protect essential workers. There is a national requirement to wear a mask while traveling, per the Order issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the current Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Security Directive, and failure to comply with the requirement can result in civil penalties.

All transportation operators are required to make sure their passengers are complying with the new masking requirements during boarding, riding and disembarking. A mask covers the mouth and nose and secures via ear loops, ties or elastic bands. Further guidance on acceptable masks can be found on the CDC webpage. Information regarding exemptions, including brief removal for eating, drinking and taking medication, can be found in more detail here. And travelers should consult the CDC’s travel webpage for the latest guidance before traveling.


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.

Trucking groups to CDC: Truck stops, travel plazas should be vaccination sites

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

travel plazas should be vaccination sites

Alexandria, VA — A coalition of trucking-related groups, including the American Trucking Associations and an association that represents truck stop owners, is urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to designate truck stops and travel plazas as mobile COVID-19 vaccination sites to help “alleviate significant challenges that truck drivers currently face in receiving an expedient vaccine.”

In a letter dated Feb. 25 and sent to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, ATA, NATSO – formerly known as the National Association of Truck Stop Operators – and others contend truck drivers “should be allowed to receive a vaccine in a state other than that within which they reside due to their length of time on the road and away from home.”

The coalition also requests that drivers be allowed to receive a second dose of a vaccine at a different location, if needed.

“It is improbable that they would have the ability to return to the primary vaccination site on a specific date or time,” the letter states. “By administering vaccines through our nationwide network of locations, we can ensure the ability of our employees and the nation’s truck drivers to continue serving on the front lines of the fuel and food distribution systems across the country.

“Furthermore, by vaccinating truck stop employees, we can amplify the breadth and scope of vaccination deployment across the communities in which we operate. It is imperative that we protect those who are delivering critical supplies – including the vaccine – throughout the country.”

The coalition also includes the Truckload Carriers Association, National Private Truck Council, National Association of Small Trucking Companies, St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund, and National Tank Truck Carriers.


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.

COVID-19: CPWR publishes ventilation tips for indoor construction sites

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

ventilation tips for indoor construction sites - McCraren Compliance

Silver Spring, MD — New guidance from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training is aimed at improving ventilation at indoor construction sites that don’t have working heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems.

Improved indoor ventilation, according to CPWR, is part of a layered approach to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, along with physical distancing, respiratory protection, face coverings and reducing the number of workers in an area.

When HVAC systems aren’t operating on a construction site, CPWR recommends the following:

  • Open windows, doors and other passages, when weather permits, to increase fresh outdoor air in a space.
  • Use fans to increase airflow and introduce more outdoor air.
  • Place fans so fresh air is drawn in from one opening in the workspace and exhausted out through another opening on the other side of the space.
  • Place fans so they move air away from workers, to avoid blowing potentially contaminated air from one worker to another.
  • Don’t use pedestal fans because they regularly mix the air rather than provide ventilation.
  • Inspect and change filters in fans and air cleaners per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • When changing filters, handle them as little as possible and wash hands afterward.
  • Consider monitoring carbon dioxide at the worksite, as elevated levels can indicate poor air circulation.

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.

Opening Session: NIOSH director warns of COVID-19 endemic, looks to the future

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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Itasca, IL — The future of work may include safety professionals contending with COVID-19 on some level for a long time, even with the recent rollout and widespread availability of vaccines.

That was the warning from NIOSH Director John Howard during the Opening Session of the virtual National Safety Council Safety Congress & Expo on March 3. Although the disease might not be as deadly as it has been over this past year, COVID-19 will likely remain an endemic or a long-lasting disease similar to the flu.

Howard said that could mean preparing for increased disease surveillance; looking at COVID-19 variants to see if they’re more transmissible, more dangerous or have a greater ability to evade vaccines; and perhaps planning for booster vaccine shots.

“We’re not going to get rid of it; coronaviruses don’t disappear,” he said. “It’s not just an emergency that will pass tomorrow. We have to prepare for it. We have to look at our near future.”

Howard also introduced a thought exercise that safety professionals and others can use called “strategic foresight,” which comes from a 2007 book written by Andy Hines and edited by Peter Bishop.

Howard said the process begins by looking at which “domains” need attention, taking in all of the needed information and then turning all that into scenarios – some of which may even clash with each other. That’s followed by thinking about the implications of each scenario, imagining what may happen if a scenario comes to fruition and monitoring each scenario.

“One of those scenarios is going to be our actual future, and we’re going to be prepared for it because we thought about it ahead of time,” he said.

Howard also detailed parts of NIOSH’s Future of Work initiative, which addresses topics such as robotics, artificial intelligence/machine learning, exoskeletons, organizational design, work arrangements, workforce skills gaps and what automation may do to some jobs.

Year of the Safety Hero

To thank safety pros for all of their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, NSC declared 2021 the Year of Safety Hero.

“Safety professionals like you are helping essential workers stay safe and stay on the job,” NSC CEO and President Lorraine M. Martin said during the Opening Session. “You’ve stepped up to lead and serve others. You’ve faced a once-in-a-century pandemic with courage and dedication, confronting each challenge head on. Traditional safety risks never paused during this time and neither did you.

“It’s time to recognize the vital role that safety professionals play in every industry and every day.”

NSC is calling on people to recognize the safety hero(s) in their lives on social media with the hashtag, #SafetyHero.


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.

On Safety: What an ETS and National Emphasis Program on COVID-19 are likely to look like

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

A lot of rumors are floating around regarding a potential OSHA emergency temporary standard and a National Emphasis Program enforcement action related to COVID-19. Rumors I’ve heard include that there are two versions of an ETS, that a draft is available for internal review and that OSHA is developing an NEP to accompany the ETS.

I think it’s a bit too soon for OSHA to have a draft ETS done, but perhaps one is very close. Based on past practice with a newly issued standard, OSHA will use an NEP to focus on compliance with any potential ETS. Under an Executive Order signed by President Joe Biden on Jan. 21, an ETS, if deemed necessary by the agency, must be issued by March 15. That ETS likely would follow the OSHA COVID-19 guidelines that were updated and rereleased Jan. 29.

The requirements in the NEP would mirror the requirements of the ETS. The following are likely to be addressed by OSHA in the ETS and NEP, and should be implemented at worksites:

  • A written infectious disease or exposure control program that covers:
    • Physical distancing criteria
    • Sanitation (including vacuuming of workplaces)
    • Personal hygiene
    • Testing and screening – following local guidance
    • Engineering controls, including barriers and ventilation – negative pressure and increased ventilation in areas such as conference rooms
    • Employee and manager training
    • Use of face coverings and respirators (N95 in health care) and use of personal protective equipment (gowns, gloves, faceshields and goggles, as appropriate)
    • Identification of where exposures may occur (site risk assessment)
    • Procedures for communicating to employees
    • Isolation/separation of employees showing any signs or symptoms of exposure
    • Use of Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning materials and proper PPE for those doing any cleaning
    • Whistleblower/retaliation protection
    • Recordkeeping
  • A designated program coordinator
  • Process/procedures for handling customers or visitors

Concerning vaccination, OSHA likely will not require employees to be vaccinated and will allow employees to opt out from being vaccinated. This is based on the fact that OSHA has allowed employees to decline hepatitis B vaccines under the standard on bloodborne pathogens (1910.1030). However, some process or procedure for making vaccines available to employees at no cost will likely be included.

As for employer coverage under the scope of an ETS and NEP, OSHA may defer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as use any and all data OSHA is able to acquire (including recent enforcement data). Initially, an NEP will likely focus on hospitals, assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, health clinics, meat processing (beef, pork and poultry), and warehousing/distribution operations where there are a lot of people. An NEP could provide an enforcement opening if there are outbreaks in other industries.

If employers are thinking this will only apply to health care, they would be mistaken. My advice would be for employers to coordinate with their state and local health departments and look at the risk of COVID-19 in their respective areas. If the risk is “medium to high,” they should have an infectious disease or exposure control program in place. The scope could vary for their program based on the level of risk in their community or history of exposure in their workplace. The unknown is what to do where the risk is low? Low-risk establishments should still have an infectious disease or exposure control program, but it could be scaled back – again, companies facing a low risk should coordinate with their state and local health departments – and all efforts should be documented.

This article represents the views of the authors and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Fairfax (CIH, retired 2017) joined OSHA in January 1978 and retired from the agency in 2013. At OSHA, he was a practicing field industrial hygienist, as well as the deputy director and director of enforcement programs. In 2008, Richard served as acting director of construction and, in 2010, was designated deputy assistant secretary – overseeing all field, enforcement and training operations. From 1993 through 2010, Richard wrote an industrial hygiene column entitled, “OSHA Compliance Issues” for the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. He still serves on the Editorial Review Board. Richard now works part time for NSC-ORC HSE.


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.

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.