Posts Tagged ‘workplace safety’

OSHA’s New Get Tough Policy on Coronavirus Includes Stepped-up Inspections, Recordkeeping

Prepare to open your doors to more safety expectations as the nation emerges from the pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has adopted revised policies for enforcing OSHA’s requirements with respect to coronavirus as economies reopen in states throughout the country.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, understanding about the transmission and prevention of infection has improved. The government and the private sector have taken rapid and evolving measures to slow the virus’s spread, protect employees, and adapt to new ways of doing business.

Now, as states begin reopening their economies, OSHA has issued two revised enforcement policies to ensure employers are taking action to protect their employees.

First, OSHA is increasing in-person inspections at all types of workplaces. The new enforcement guidance reflects changing circumstances in which many non-critical businesses have begun to reopen in areas of lower community spread. The risk of transmission is lower in specific categories of workplaces, and personal protective equipment potentially needed for inspections is more widely available. OSHA staff will continue to prioritize COVID-19 inspections, and will utilize all enforcement tools as OSHA has historically done.

Second, OSHA is revising its previous enforcement policy for recording cases of coronavirus. Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, coronavirus is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of the coronavirus, if the case:

Under the new policy issued today, OSHA will enforce the recordkeeping requirements of 29 CFR 1904 for employee coronavirus illnesses for all employers. Given the nature of the disease and community spread, however, in many instances it remains difficult to determine whether a coronavirus illness is work-related, especially when an employee has experienced potential exposure both in and out of the workplace. OSHA’s guidance emphasizes that employers must make reasonable efforts, based on the evidence available to the employer, to ascertain whether a particular case of coronavirus is work-related.

Recording a coronavirus illness does not mean that the employer has violated any OSHA standard. Following existing regulations, employers with 10 or fewer employees and certain employers in low hazard industries have no recording obligations; they need only report work-related coronavirus illnesses that result in a fatality or an employee’s in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.[1]

For further information and resources about the coronavirus disease, please visit OSHA’s coronavirus webpage.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

OSHA Details Proper Respirator Use at Work

As workplaces reopen during the pandemic, the federal government is offering instruction on the right way to take on and off a respirator.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a new video and poster for employers and workers on how to properly wear and remove a respirator, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday.

For workers who may need to use respirators to protect themselves from coronavirus exposure, a properly worn respirator can help reduce the wearer’s risk of viral exposure and help prevent its spread to others.

The video and poster – in English and Spanish – demonstrate and describe seven steps every worker should follow when putting on and taking off a respirator.

  1. Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol before putting on and after removing the respirator;
  2. Inspect the respirator for damage;
  3. Cover mouth and nose with the respirator and pull strap over the head so that it rests at the back of the head. A second strap should rest at the back of the neck. Use the metal nose clips to mold the respirator to the shape of the nose;
  4. Adjust the respirator by placing both hands over it and inhaling and exhaling. Readjust the straps if air leaks from the respirator’s edges;
  5. Avoid touching the respirator while wearing it;
  6. Remove the respirator by grabbing the strap(s) from behind. Do not touch the front; and
  7. If the respirator does not need to be reused because of supply shortages, discard it in a closed-bin waste receptacle.

Visit OSHA’s Publications webpage for other useful workplace safety information.

The video and poster are the latest efforts by OSHA to educate and protect America’s workers and employers during the coronavirus pandemic. OSHA has also published Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, a document aimed at helping workers and employers learn about ways to protect themselves and their workplaces during the ongoing pandemic.

Visit OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage frequently for updates. For further information about coronavirus, please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

OSHA Punts Fall Injury Stand-Down to Summer

An annual mass exercise to get the construction industry to crack down on fall safety hazards has been delayed.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced Friday that it has postponed the 7th annual National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, originally scheduled for May 4-8, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will be rescheduled this summer.

Falls remain the leading cause of fatal injuries to workers in the construction industry. While the National Stand-Down is postponed, OSHA encourages employers to remain vigilant and to use all available resources, including those at https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/ to enhance worker safety.

For the latest on coronavirus, and for tools and resources to prevent worker exposure, OSHA encourages employers and the public at-large to visit the OSHA COVID-19 and the CDC COVID-19 webpages.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

Dollar Tree Stores Hit With Six-Figure Fine For Safety Violations at Bethlehem, Pa. Location

Conditions at this discount store were a safety violation waiting to happen.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Dollar Tree Stores Inc. for exit and storage hazards at a store located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The national discount retailer faces $296,861 in penalties.

Responding to a complaint, OSHA inspectors found blocked emergency exits, unsecured compressed gas cylinders, unsanitary bathrooms, electrical panels not properly maintained and materials stacked unsafely. OSHA cited Dollar Tree for two willful, one repeat and two other-than-serious violations for these conditions.

“Workers have a right to a safe and healthful workplace,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “OSHA will continue to ensure that Dollar Tree is held accountable for their obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”

OSHA’s; Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs includes information on how to identify and assess hazards in the workplace. The Restrooms and Sanitation Requirements webpage explain requirements for ensuring that employees do not suffer adverse health effects from unsanitary bathroom conditions. The agency’s Emergency Exit Routes fact sheet provides information on requirements for keeping exits unobstructed.

Dollar Tree has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

Fork It Over: Ga. Garden Store Pays $148K Penalty for Safety Hazards at Mulch Plant

Mulching is more than adding nutrients to your garden. Workers at this mulch manufacturing facility found out just how dangerous an operation it can be.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Garick LLC – operating as Smith Garden Products – for exposing employees to safety hazards at the Cumming, Georgia, facility. The manufacturer of specialty mulch products faces $148,867 in penalties.

OSHA cited Garick LLC for failing to ensure energy control procedures contained clear and specific steps to limit the release of hazardous energy. OSHA also cited the company for failing to provide and ensure that employees affixed lockout/tagout devices to block machines and equipment from energy sources, train employees to recognize applicable hazardous energy sources, and conduct a periodic inspection of the lockout program at least annually. Other violations included failing to ensure machinery was effectively guarded, allowing employees to operate defective powered industrial trucks, and failing to reduce compressed air to the appropriate level before allowing employees to use it for cleaning purposes. OSHA conducted the inspection in accordance with the National Emphasis Program on Amputations and the Regional Emphasis Program for Powered Industrial Trucks.

“Employers must implement comprehensive safety and health programs to readily identify and correct hazards in the workplace to prevent injuries or fatalities,” said OSHA Atlanta-East Acting Area Office Director Michael Hejazi.

OSHA has compliance resources on how employers can control the release of hazardous energy, and how to protect workers from unguarded machines and damaged forklifts.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov

OSHA Tweaks 27 Standards and Regulations; Construction, Longshoring Among The Impacted

It’s not sexy stuff. But if you are an affected industry then pay attention to last week’s adjustments to more than two dozen safety standards and regulations.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published technical corrections and amendments to 27 OSHA standards and regulations. This administrative rulemaking corrects minor misprints, omissions, outdated references, and tabular and graphic inaccuracies. The revisions apply to several industry sectors, including general industry, construction, shipyard employment and longshoring. Some revisions may reduce employer costs, and none expand employer obligations or impose new costs.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

My thanks to Jon Hyman for linking to this blog post in his weekly roundup for Friday, February 21.

On Target: National Retailer Fined $227K by OSHA for Allowing Blocking of Emergency Exits

Here’s a possible tragedy averted hopefully by strong sanctions ahead of time.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Target Corp. for emergency exit access hazards at stores in Danvers and Framingham, Massachusetts. The national retailer faces a total of $227,304 in penalties.

OSHA inspectors found fire exit routes in backroom storage areas blocked by objects, such as packing boxes, products, rolling carts, metal bars, portable ladders, and a powered industrial truck. Since 2015, OSHA has cited Target Corp. for similar hazards at 11 stores in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

“OSHA has cited Target Corp. several times for exposing workers to hazards that restrict their ability to quickly exit a store in an emergency,” said OSHA Andover Area Director Anthony Covello. “Employers are required to keep exit routes free and unobstructed.”

Additional information about OSHA requirements for keeping exits clear is available in the agency’s Emergency Exit Routes fact sheet. OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs includes information on how to identify and assess hazards in the workplace.

Target Corp. has 15 business days from receipt of the Danvers and Framinghamcitations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

My thanks to attorney Jon Hyman for including this blog post in his weekly Friday Jan. 24 round-up.