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OSHA Releases COVID-19 Citation FAQ

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued guidance and an accompanying frequently-asked-questions sheet to help employers understand which standards are more likely to be cited during COVID-19-related inspections.

“OSHA 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,” the DOL said in a press release.

Ed Brown, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued guidance and an accompanying frequently-asked-questions sheet to help employers understand which standards are more likely to be cited during COVID-19-related inspections.

The DOL also pointed to OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program and noted that it offers no-cost, confidential occupational safety and health services to small- and medium-sized business to identify workplace hazards, providing advice for compliance with standards and assisting in establishing and improving safety and health programs.

The FAQ listed nine examples of requirements that employers have most frequently failed to follow, according to OSHA. Those are:

  • Providing a medical evaluation before a worker is fit-tested or uses a respirator;
  • Performing an appropriate fit test for workers using tight fitting respirators;
  • Assessing the workplace to determine if COVID-19 hazards are present, or likely to be present, which will require the use of a respirator and/or other PPE;
  • Establishing, implementing and updating a written respiratory protection program with required worksite-specific procedures;
  • Providing an appropriate respirator and/or other PPE to each employee when necessary to protect the health of the employees (ensuring the respirator and/or PPE used is the correct type and size);
  • Training workers to safely use respirators and/or other PPE in the workplace, and retraining workers about changes in the workplace that might make previous training obsolete;
  • Storing respirators and other PPE properly in a way to protect them from damage, contamination and, where applicable, deformation of the facepiece and exhalation valve;
  • For any fatality that occurs within 30 days of a work-related incident, reporting the fatality to OSHA within eight hours of finding out about it; and
  • Keeping required records of work-related fatalities, injuries and illness.

Previous FAQs

Related to the last two frequent violations mentioned in the November release, last month OSHA updated its Frequently Asked Questions forum regarding the need to report employees’ in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities resulting from work-related cases of COVID-19.

Among the updates, the FAQs provide guidance on how to calculate reporting deadlines for in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities, as well as clarifying the meaning of the term “incident” as it relates to work-related coronavirus in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities.

At the time, the two updated Q&As of note were:

  • Question: An employee has been hospitalized with a work-related, confirmed case of COVID-19. Do I need to report this in-patient hospitalization to OSHA?
  • Answer: Under 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6), employers are only required to report in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA if the hospitalization "occurs within 24 hours of the work-related incident." For cases of COVID-19, the term "incident" means an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the workplace. Therefore, in order to be reportable, an in-patient hospitalization due to COVID-19 must occur within 24 hours of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work. The employer must report such hospitalization within 24 hours of knowing both that the employee has been in-patient hospitalized and that the reason for the hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19. Thus, if an employer learns that an employee was in-patient hospitalized within 24 hours of a work-related incident, and determines afterward that the cause of the in-patient hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19, the case must be reported within 24 hours of that determination. OSHA adds to this that 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6) only applies to reporting, and is separate from the injury and illness records requirements.
  • Question: An employee has died of a work-related, confirmed case of COVID-19. Do I need to report this fatality to OSHA?
  • Answer: Under 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6), an employer must "report a fatality to OSHA if the fatality occurs within 30 days of the work-related incident." Therefore, in order to be reportable, a fatality due to COVID-19 must occur within 30 days of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work. The employer must report the fatality within eight hours of knowing both that the employee has died, and that the cause of death was a work-related case of COVID-19.

A few weeks later, OSHA published an FAQ on how N95 respirators effectively protect wearers from coronavirus exposure.

The FAQ arrives as the Administration became aware of incorrect claims stating that N95 respirators filter do not capture particles as small as the virus causing COVID-19.

View all of PaintSquare Daily News coverage on COVID-19, here.

   

Tagged categories: Citations; COVID-19; Department of Labor; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Regulations; Safety

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