Former OSHA head expects an emergency temporary standard ‘very early’ in Biden administration

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First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Aurora, CO — Protecting the health and safety of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic will be a high priority for President-elect Joe Biden as he prepares to take office in January, according to former OSHA chief David Michaels.

That starts with OSHA issuing an emergency temporary standard on infectious diseases – something worker advocacy groups and some lawmakers have called for in recent months.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Biden will issue an emergency temporary standard very early in his tenure,” Michaels said during a Nov. 11 webinar on the post-election future of worker safety and health, hosted by the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and Humanities. “I think you have to do that immediately. The importance of that is employers need to know what the rules are.”

During his presidential campaign, Biden released a 4-Point Plan for Our Essential Workers that called on the Trump administration to immediately release and enforce an ETS to give employers and frontline employees “specific, enforceable guidance” on reducing on-the-job exposure to COVID-19.

Michaels – who led OSHA for seven years under the Obama administration – said he expects an ETS from the Biden administration to include language on physical distancing, mask requirements and workplace ventilation.

“And if [employers] don’t do those things, they have to explain why,” he said. “It will have a huge impact, because standards are a wholesale way to deal with issues that inspections just do on a regional basis. Standards are powerful because many employers want to be law-abiding. They will follow a standard.”

Despite being pushed to issue an ETS on infectious diseases by lawmakers from both parties as well as via multiple petitions and lawsuits from labor unions, federal OSHA officials have consistently reiterated the agency’s position to use existing rules – including its General Duty Clause – to protect workers during the pandemic.

The agency also has relied on dozens of industry-specific guidance documents, which serve only as recommendations to employers. MichiganOregon and Virginia recently have issued ETSs in absence of one from federal OSHA.

Webinar co-presenter Matthew Wynia, a professor and bioethicist at CU, said OSHA guidance leaves open the opportunity for some employers to not follow it.

“The reason for standards is to establish a level playing field,” Wynia said. “You’ve laid a floor and said, ‘You cannot go below this.’”


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.

Protect your skin

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First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Do you work with wet cement, paints or plaster? Maybe adhesives? These are just some of the materials that can irritate your skin because they can contain harsh substances such as hexavalent chromium, calcium hydroxide, toluene, xylene, epoxy resins and lime. This can result in burns, dermatitis and other skin disorders, and even cancer.

Symptoms of skin disorders include:

  • Red and/or swollen hands or fingers
  • Cracked or itchy skin
  • Crusting or thickening of the skin
  • Blisters
  • Flaky or scaly skin
  • Burns

Here’s how you can protect your skin:
Prevent exposure. Try to keep your arms and clothes dry. Wear protective clothing, including gloves, coveralls and boots. If you work outdoors, always apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher. Clean your hands and skin before applying the sunscreen.
Wear gloves. Make sure you’re using the right glove for the materials you’re handling. The gloves should fit and keep your hands clean and dry.
Keep your skin clean. Wash your hands with soap and clean water if you come in contact with a hazardous substance. Use a pH neutral soap if you work with wet cement or other caustics.


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.

Protect your skin

skin-protection.jpg

Do you work with wet cement, paints or plaster? Maybe adhesives? These are just some of the materials that can irritate your skin because they can contain harsh substances such as hexavalent chromium, calcium hydroxide, toluene, xylene, epoxy resins and lime. This can result in burns, dermatitis and other skin disorders, and even cancer.

Symptoms of skin disorders include:

  • Red and/or swollen hands or fingers
  • Cracked or itchy skin
  • Crusting or thickening of the skin
  • Blisters
  • Flaky or scaly skin
  • Burns

Here’s how you can protect your skin:
Prevent exposure. Try to keep your arms and clothes dry. Wear protective clothing, including gloves, coveralls and boots. If you work outdoors, always apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher. Clean your hands and skin before applying the sunscreen.
Wear gloves. Make sure you’re using the right glove for the materials you’re handling. The gloves should fit and keep your hands clean and dry.
Keep your skin clean. Wash your hands with soap and clean water if you come in contact with a hazardous substance. Use a pH neutral soap if you work with wet cement or other caustics.

Workplace exposure to silica, beryllium may have links to sarcoidosis: study

Photo: safetyandhealthmagazine.
Nieuwegein, The Netherlands — On-the-job exposure to silica, beryllium and certain other metals may be linked to the inflammatory disease sarcoidosis, results of a recent study led by Dutch researchers suggest.

For people who have sarcoidosis, inflammatory cells collect and grow in parts of the body – typically the lungs and lymph nodes – and can potentially damage organs. The cause of the disease isn’t known, “but experts think it results from the body’s immune system responding to an unknown substance,” the Mayo Clinic states. No cure for the disease exists, but treatments are available. In certain instances, sarcoidosis clears up on its own.

For the study, the researchers assessed the potential exposures to silica, beryllium, aluminum and zirconium among 256 sarcoidosis patients and 73 control patients who had obstructive sleep apnea, using the results of a questionnaire on work history. Patients with OSA were used as controls because “there is no relationship between environmental triggers and development of OSA.”

Results show that the sarcoidosis patients had a higher percentage of workplace exposure to silica or the other metals – 32.4% (or 83 out of 256), compared with the control group’s 24.7%. After the researchers examined the immune system reactions to silica and the other metals in 33 sarcoidosis patients and 19 control patients using a lymphocyte proliferation test, more than 21% of the former group showed reactions to the materials compared with none of the latter group.

Immunoreactivity to silica and metals was only found in sarcoidosis patients, supporting the hypothesis that these antigens may be involved in the pathogenesis of a distinct subgroup of sarcoidosis patients. This indicates that when searching for causative agents in sarcoidosis patients, besides beryllium, also zirconium, aluminium and silica deserve clinical investigation.

The study was published online June 8 in the journal Respiratory Research.


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

COVID-19 pandemic: CPWR shares tips to help shield construction workers from exposure

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Photo: beekeepx/iStockphoto

Silver Spring, MD — Aiming to protect construction workers from the COVID-19 pandemic, CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training has released guidance for employees and employers.

CPWR collaborated with North America’s Building Trades Unions, as well as partners in research and government, to develop the guidance. The center said it plans to update its COVID-19 webpage regularly as information becomes available.

Tips for workers include:

  • Don’t go to work if you’re feeling sick.
  • Don’t shake hands when greeting others.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others on the worksite, if possible, including during meetings and training sessions.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or do so into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

For employers:

  • Plan for office staff to have the ability to work from home.
  • Provide soap and running water – and hand sanitizer, if possible – on all worksites to allow for frequent handwashing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on worksites and in offices, including hand rails, doorknobs and portable toilets.
  • If a job involves working at a health care facility, provide workers with Infection Control Risk Assessment training.