Labor & Employment Law Daily OSHA guidance identifies violation types for which employers may be cited during pandemic
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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

OSHA guidance identifies violation types for which employers may be cited during pandemic

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

The guidance is based on data from citations issued, many of which were the result of complaints, referrals, and fatalities in various industries.

Although the agency no longer provides as much detail about its citations of employers, including for COVID-19-related violations that it started ramping up in September and October, OSHA has issued guidance and an accompanying one-pager that it says will help employers understand which standards are most frequently cited during coronavirus-related inspections.

The federal health and safety agency said it based these documents on data from citations issued, many of which were the result of complaints, referrals, and fatalities in industries such as hospitals and healthcare, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and meat/poultry processing plants. OSHA has not disclosed to the public the number of workers who have been impacted, or specifically how, by these citations, including for fatalities.

Types of violations. The one-pager and guidance document provide available resources that address the most frequently cited standards, including Respiratory Protection, Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, Personal Protective Equipment and the General Duty Clause.

Requirements that apply. The one-pager provides examples of requirements that employers must follow, such as:

  • Provide a medical evaluation before a worker is fit-tested or uses a respirator;
  • Establish, implement, and update a written respiratory protection program with required worksite-specific procedures;
  • Train workers to safely use respirators and/or other PPE in the workplace, and retrain workers about changes in the workplace that might make previous training obsolete;
  • Store respirators and other PPE properly in a way to protect them from damage, contamination, and, where applicable, deformation of the facepiece and exhalation valve; and
  • Keep required records of work-related fatalities, injuries, and illness.

OSHA intends this guidance to help employers protect workers and increase compliance with agency requirements.

On-site consultation. OSHA also pointed to its On-Site Consultation Program, which offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small- and medium-sized businesses to identify workplace hazards, provides advice for compliance with OSHA standards, and assists in establishing and improving safety and health programs. These consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations, the agency noted.

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