Biden says OSHA will issue an emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 vaccination, testing

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Washington — OSHA is developing an emergency rule that will require employers with at least 100 workers to “ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week,” President Joe Biden announced Sept. 9.

The announcement was made on the same day the president signed Executive Orders requiring federal employees and most federal contractors to be vaccinated. Additionally, nursing home, hospital, home health care facility and other medical facility workers – who treat Medicare or Medicaid patients – are now required to be vaccinated.

“Some of the biggest companies are already requiring [vaccines],” Biden said. “The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers. We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.”

The emergency rule will require covered employers to give workers paid time off to get a COVID-19 vaccine, Biden said.

A recent survey conducted by the National Safety Council found that employer-required vaccinations resulted in a 35% increase in the number workers who got a shot(s), according a Sept. 10 press release from the nonprofit organization.

“With the nation’s death toll nearing 650,000 lives lost, we must double down on evidence-based solutions – COVID-19 vaccinations – to keep people safe,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said. “Employers are widely trusted by their workers and can play a pivotal role in increasing vaccination rates of people throughout the country to save lives, from the workplace to anyplace.”

In a statement issued Sept. 9, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), ranking member of the House Education and Labor Committee, said the president had “no business issuing a burdensome vaccine regulation that will further harm overworked and struggling business owners.”

The National Association of Manufacturers, which represents more than 14,000 U.S. businesses, said it looks forward to working with the administration “to ensure any vaccine requirements are structured in a way that does not negatively impact the operations of manufacturers that have been leading through the pandemic to keep Americans safe.”

Meanwhile, Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, an advocacy group, called the mandate a “missed opportunity” to expand COVID-19 prevention plans to all workplaces. An OSHA emergency temporary standard, which went into effect in June, applies only to health care settings. In addition, National COSH Co-Executive Director Jessica Martinez notes that physical distancing, improved ventilation, shift rotation and personal protective equipment are “important components of an overall plan to reduce risk and stop the virus,” but are missing from Biden’s plan.

Employers who have questions about implementing a vaccine requirement or providing other safety measures can consult resources from SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns – an NSC initiative aimed at developing industry- and risk-specific resources and recommendations for employers.

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 compliance directive for enforcing emergency temporary standard to protect healthcare workers from coronavirus

First published by OSHA

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a compliance directive designed to ensure uniform inspection and enforcement procedures for its Emergency Temporary Standard to protect healthcare workers from occupational exposures to COVID-19.

The new directive provides OSHA compliance safety and health officers with guidance and procedures on how to enforce the standard’s requirements for:

  • Written COVID-19 plan
  • Patient/Non-employee screening and management
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Aerosol-generating procedures
  • Physical distancing
  • Physical barriers
  • Cleaning and disinfecting
  • Ventilation
  • Employee health screening and medical management
  • Vaccination
  • Training
  • Anti-retaliation
  • Requirements at no cost
  • Recordkeeping
  • Reporting to OSHA

The ETS became effective June 21, 2021. Employers must comply with most provisions by July 6, 2021, and with training, ventilation, and barrier provisions by July 21, 2021.

Learn more about the COVID-19 Healthcare ETS.

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.

OSHA releases new guidance, resources on beryllium

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — OSHA has published new guidance and resources intended to help employers and workers navigate the agency’s beryllium standards.

One guidance document addresses interim enforcement. In July, OSHA issued a final rule that revised the beryllium standard for general industry (1910.1024). A month later, the agency published another final rule that revised the beryllium standards for construction (1926.1124) and shipyards (1915.1024).<\p>

Additionally, the agency published a small entity compliance guide for beryllium in general industry, as well as guidance on medical surveillance for workers exposed to the strong, lightweight metal that is used in many industries, including electronics and the defense industry.

The new resources include QuickCards on medical surveillance and the beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test, or BeLPT, which helps determine if the immune system reacts to beryllium as a foreign substance.

OSHA previously published a series of answers to frequently asked questions about beryllium and associated standards. Overexposure to beryllium can cause serious health risks, including incurable chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer.

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.

10th year running: Fall Protection leads OSHA’s annual ‘Top 10’ list of most frequently cited violations

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Itasca, IL — “Fall Protection – General Requirements” is OSHA’s most frequently cited standard for the 10th successive fiscal year, the agency announced Feb. 26 during an exclusive Safety+Health webinar.

Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented preliminary data for OSHA’s Top 10 most cited violations for fiscal year 2020, which ended Sept. 30. S+H Associate Editor Kevin Druley moderated the session.

Although multiple standards swapped positions, the standards that make up the Top 10 remained unchanged from FY 2019. Of note, a newcomer emerged among the top five: Ladders, which ranked sixth in FY 2019, rose one spot. Additionally, Respiratory Protection climbed to third from fifth, while Lockout/Tagout fell two spots, dropping to sixth from fourth.

The full list:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (29 CFR 1926.501): 5,424 violations
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 3,199
  3. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,649
  4. Scaffolding (1926.451): 2,538
  5. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,129
  6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 2,065
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,932
  8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,621
  9. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,369
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,313

“Use the Top 10 as a guide for your workplace,” Kapust recommended. “It’s a good place to start if you don’t know where to start. Look at what OSHA is finding. Look at the things that are applicable to your particular industry as well.”

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.

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.

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.

Trench Safety Stand Down set for June 15-19


Fairfax, VA — The National Utility Contractors Association, with support from OSHA and the North American Excavation Shoring Association, is calling on employers involved in trench work to participate in the fifth annual Trench Safety Stand Down, scheduled for June 15-19.

The event is intended to raise awareness of the dangers of trenching and excavation, as well as promote the use of protective systems such as sloping, shoring and shielding. The OSHA standard for trenching and excavation (29 CFR 1926.650, Subpart P) requires protective systems for trenches that are 5 feet or deeper, unless the excavation occurs in stable rock.

As part of the event, NUCA, NAXSA and OSHA are offering free online tools, including posters, checklists, fact sheets and videos.

OSHA cautions that 1 cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds, and adds that trench collapses are “rarely survivable.” According to NUCA, citing data from OSHA, 17 workers died in trench incidents in 2018.

As a result of previously successful campaigns, NUCA has expanded upon the stand-down and declared June the inaugural Trench Safety Month, a May 20 organizational press release states.

“In this industry, the safety of our employees on the jobsite is our top priority,” NUCA CEO Doug Carlson said in the release. “Making this June ‘Trench Safety Month’ emphasizes the valuable training and experiences our members’ employees are gaining through the Trench Safety Stand Down week held annually in June throughout our industry.”

OSHA final rule corrects errors in 27 standards and regulations

Washington — OSHA has issued technical corrections and amendments to 27 standards and regulations to address “minor misprints, omissions, outdated references, and tabular and graphic inaccuracies.”

According to a final rule published in the Feb. 18 Federal Register, the corrections are to 29 CFR 1904 (recording and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses), 1910 (general industry), 1915 and 1918 (maritime), and 1926 (construction).

None of the revisions expands employer obligations or imposes new costs, a Feb. 14 press release from OSHA states.

The changes are effective immediately.

OSHA delays enforcement of crane operator documentation requirements for ‘good faith’ employers

Employers who make “good faith efforts” to document their evaluations of crane operators have an additional 60 days to comply with OSHA’s Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Operator Certification Extension, according to a Feb. 7 enforcement memorandum from the agency. Continue Reading»