COVID-19 and health care workers: Walsh reiterates that permanent rule likely before year’s end

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Walsh-2.jpg

Photo: Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee

Washington — Echoing comments made by OSHA administrator Doug Parker during a hearing three weeks earlier, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said a permanent standard on COVID-19 for the health care industry may be published sometime in the fall.

Walsh testified before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on June 15 – a day after appearing before the House Education and Labor Committee.

During the June 15 hearing, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the subcommittee, asked Walsh for an update on the forthcoming permanent standard. OSHA withdrew the non-recordkeeping parts of its emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 focused on health care workers Dec. 27 – around six months after it first went into effect.

“I believe it will be done in the next three to six months.” Walsh said.

“Three to six months from now?” Murray asked.

“Yes. It’s the rulemaking process,” Walsh responded. “I would love to speed it up, but, unfortunately, it’s the process that’s in place that we have to work under.”

Walsh also noted that OSHA is continuing its work on a standard on infectious diseases. According to the Department of Labor’s latest regulatory agenda, issued Dec. 10, that standard would be aimed at the health care industry and other “high-risk environments.”

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is expected to publish an updated regulatory agenda in the near future.

Mining deaths

During both hearings, Walsh highlighted a recent increase in mine worker fatalities. The labor secretary told Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM) separately that his department had a call with “some of the major mining companies in America” to talk about sharing best practices on safety.

According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, 37 mining fatalities were recorded last year – up from 29 in 2020. As of June 15, the agency had reported 12 miner deaths this year.

“Something I did when I was the mayor of Boston when we had high shootings is we brought all the stakeholders to the table. We did the same thing with the mining industry,” Walsh told Capito. “We need to make sure we stay on top of it.”


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.

Control Hazardous Energy: 6 Steps

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Photo: OSHA

A mainstay on OSHA’s Top 10 list of most cited violations is the standard on lockout/tagout (1910.147).

Simply put, “lockout/tagout is a safety procedure used to make sure equipment and machines are properly shut off and not able to start during maintenance or repair work,” the Texas Department of Insurance says. “This is known as controlling hazardous energy.”

Help prevent the unexpected release of stored energy with these six steps from TDI:

  1. Prepare. An authorized employee, defined by OSHA as “a person who locks out or tags out machines or equipment in order to perform servicing or maintenance on that machine or equipment,” must identify and control all potential forms of hazardous energy.
  2. Shut down. Turn off the equipment using the proper procedures. Inform all employees who use the equipment about the shutdown.
  3. Isolation. Isolate equipment from energy sources. This may mean turning off power at a breaker.
  4. Lock and tag. Apply a lockout device to keep equipment in an energy-isolating position. Then, place a tag on the device with the authorized employee’s name who performed the lockout.
  5. Check for stored energy. Hazardous energy can remain in the equipment even after the energy source has been disconnected and the machine has been locked out.
  6. Verify isolation. Check again to ensure the equipment is isolated and deenergized before service or maintenance begins.

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.

NIOSH to employers: Are you inspecting your lockout/tagout procedures?

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

NIOSH to employers Are you inspecting your lockout/tagout procedures
Photo: OSHA

Washington — Pointing to OSHA guidance citing “the significant risks associated with inadequate energy control procedures or the failure to properly implement them,” NIOSH is reminding employers that OSHA’s standard on lockout/tagout (1910.147) requires them to conduct an inspection of written hazardous energy control procedures at least once a year.

In fiscal year 2021, lockout/tagout ranked sixth on OSHA’S Top 10 list of most frequently cited standards, with 1,670 total violations, according to preliminary OSHA Information System data.

Within the standard, 1910.147(c)(6) – “periodic inspection” – was the third most frequently cited section, with 255 violations. In fourth, with 162 violations, was 1910.147(c)(1), which reads: “The employer shall establish a program consisting of energy control procedures, employee training and periodic inspections to ensure before any employee performs any servicing or maintenance on a machine or equipment where the unexpected energizing, startup or release of stored energy could occur and cause injury, the machine or equipment shall be isolated from the energy source and rendered inoperable.”

NIOSH offers tips and reminders for developing and maintaining a lockout/tagout program:

  • Include in written energy control procedures elements such as the scope of procedures; intended purpose; names of authorized personnel; rules for shift change, transfer of locks, etc.; and specific methods used to control hazardous energy.
  • A periodic inspection must include a demonstration of the procedures and be conducted while the authorized employee performs service/maintenance on a machine/equipment.
  • Each energy control procedure must be separately inspected to ensure the procedure is adequate and properly implemented by the authorized employee.
  • The inspector must be a lockout/tagout-authorized employee who is knowledgeable and isn’t currently performing lockout/tagout on the energy control procedure under inspection.
  • The inspector can’t implement any part of the procedure during the inspection, and must observe the implementation of the lockout/tagout procedure for the equipment or machine being evaluated and speak with at least one authorized employee who is implementing the procedure to ensure they understand the procedure.
  • If the periodic inspection process reveals deviations from the written procedures or inadequacies in an employee’s knowledge of procedures, the employee must be retrained.

NIOSH guidance document features recent case studies that detail separate workplace fatalities related to improper lockout/tagout processes.


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 Withdraws Vaccination and Testing ETS

First published by OSHA

Man receiving vaccination

Photo: OSHA

Statement on the Status of the OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is withdrawing the vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard issued on Nov. 5, 2021, to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers with 100 or more employees from workplace exposure to coronavirus. The withdrawal is effective January 26, 2022.

Although OSHA is withdrawing the vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, the agency is not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule. The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard.

OSHA strongly encourages vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 in the workplace.


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.

Supreme Court mulling decision on OSHA’s ETS on COVID-19

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Washington — Who gets to decide how to protect workers against COVID-19? That was one of the central questions posed by opponents of OSHA’s emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 vaccination, testing and masking during a Jan. 7 hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Scott Keller, attorney for the National Federation of Independent Business, presented the question in a response to questioning from Justice Stephen Breyer early in the two-hour hearing. “You said the question is, ‘Who decides?’” Justice Elena Kagan said to Keller later in the hearing. “I think that’s right. I think that is the question.”

Kagan contended in her questioning that OSHA has experts on workplace safety and is politically accountable to the public via the election of presidents and representatives in Congress.

“Courts are not politically accountable,” she said. “Courts have not been elected. Courts have no epidemiological expertise. Why in the world would courts decide this question?”

Keller and Ohio Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers contended that Congress didn’t give OSHA clear authority to address vaccinations in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The duo also argued that states and private businesses can decide how to protect workers from COVID-19.

Chief Justice John Roberts expressed similar thoughts to U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, who was arguing on behalf of the government.

“It sounds like the sort of thing that states will be responding to, or should be, and Congress should be responding to, rather than agency by agency of the federal government and the executive branch acting alone.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor mentioned that “certain states … are stopping employers from requiring vaccines” and masks.

“Why shouldn’t the federal government, which … Congress has decided to give OSHA the power to regulate workplace safety, have a national rule that will protect workers?” she asked.

Reading from the OSH Act, Sotomayor noted that Congress gave OSHA the authority to develop “innovative methods, techniques and approaches for dealing with occupational health and safety problems.”

Prelogar pointed to Section 20(a)(5), which reads: “Nothing in this or any other provision of this act shall be deemed to authorize or require medical examination, immunization, or treatment for those who object thereto on religious grounds, except where such is necessary for the protection of the health or safety of others.”

OSHA extends comment period for COVID-19 ETS

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Washington — OSHA has extended until Jan. 19 the comment period on its emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 vaccination, testing and masking.

According to a Nov. 30 press release, the extension allows stakeholders additional time to review the ETS as well as collect information and data necessary for comment. OSHA published the ETS in the Nov. 5 Federal Register, with the initial comment period slated to end Dec. 6.

The fate of the ETS is still unclear. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals halted the implementation and enforcement of the rule by granting a stay Nov. 12. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is slated to consider a consolidated challenge to the ETS in the near future.


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 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.

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.

OSHA issues ETS to protect workers from coronavirus

First published by OSHA

Increases protections for 84M private sector workers

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a new emergency temporary standard to protect more than 84 million workers from the spread of the coronavirus on the job. The nation’s unvaccinated workers face grave danger from workplace exposure to coronavirus, and immediate action is necessary to protect them.

Under this standard, covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.

Since 2020, the coronavirus has led to the deaths of 750,000 people in the U.S., and the infection of millions more, making it the deadliest pandemic in the nation’s history. Many of the people killed and infected by this virus were workers whose primary exposures occurred at their jobs. OSHA estimates that this rule will save thousands of lives and prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations due to workplace exposure to COVID-19 over the course of the ETS.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on workers, and we continue to see dangerous levels of cases,” said U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. “We must take action to implement this emergency temporary standard to contain the virus and protect people in the workplace against the grave danger of COVID-19. Many businesses understand the benefits of having their workers vaccinated against COVID-19, and we expect many will be pleased to see this OSHA rule go into effect.”

The emergency temporary standard covers employers with 100 or more employees – firm or company-wide – and provides options for compliance. The ETS also requires employers to provide paid time to workers to get vaccinated and to allow for paid leave to recover from any side effects.

The ETS also requires employers to do the following:

  • Determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination status from vaccinated employees and maintain records and a roster of each employee’s vaccination status.
  • Require employees to provide prompt notice when they test positive for COVID-19 or receive a COVID-19 diagnosis. Employers must then remove the employee from the workplace, regardless of vaccination status; employers must not allow them to return to work until they meet required criteria.
  • Ensure each worker who is not fully vaccinated is tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if the worker is in the workplace at least once a week) or within 7 days before returning to work (if the worker is away from the workplace for a week or longer).
  • Ensure that, in most circumstances, each employee who has not been fully vaccinated wears a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes.

The emergency temporary standard does not require employers to pay for testing. Employers may be required to pay for testing to comply with other laws, regulations, collective bargaining agreements, or other collectively negotiated agreements. Employers are also not required to pay for face coverings. Continue Reading»


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.