The guidance document identifies the standards that are most frequently cited in coronavirus-related OSHA inspections and compiles relevant resources and related information, making it easier for employers to understand their obligations. In addition, OSHA published what it calls a one-pager, which identifies the top nine things employers should be doing to keep workers safe. These include:
- Medical evaluations before a worker is fit-tested or uses a respirator;
- Appropriate fit tests for workers using tight fitting respirators;
- Assessing the workplace to determine if COVID-19 hazards are present, or likely to be present, that will require the use of a respirator and/or other personal protective equipment (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;
- Reporting to OSHA (within eight hours of finding out about) any fatality occurring within 30 days of a work-related incident; and
- Keeping required records of work-related fatalities, injuries and illness.
Employers (and employees) should not let growing weariness with COVID-19 lead to lax practices. Pandemic grace will last only so long. Indeed, OSHA reminds employers in its guidance, for OSHA to exercise enforcement discretion, employers must demonstrate and document good-faith efforts to comply with OSHA standards. OSHAs temporary enforcement memoranda are time-limited to the current COVID-19 crisis. Enforcement discretion applies only after an employer has considered and taken all possible steps to comply with measures in a particular control strategy. (Guidance at p 5, last visited on 11/11/20.) Stay vigilant and renew your commitment to worker safety.
Tammy Somogye concentrates her practice on education and employment law, representing educational institutions, municipalities and businesses. In addition to handling administrative proceedings, conducting ...
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