To say this has been a busy year for OSHA would be an understatement. As COVID-19 continues to infect tens of thousands of Americans daily, OSHA has taken numerous enforcement actions in response to a growing number of complaints from workers concerned with a lack of workplace COVID-19 safety protocols. The pandemic has also forced OSHA to temporarily adjust its enforcement guidance for certain types of respirators used to protect workers from the coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know.
OSHA Complaints and Enforcement Actions
Since mid-October, OSHA has received over nine thousand federal complaints and nearly thirty thousand state level complaints from workers concerned that unsafe workplace practices are placing them at risk of contracting COVID-19. To date, OSHA has issued $484,069 in proposed penalties to employers who failed to institute adequate safety protocols.
Infractions cited included failures to:
- Have a written respiratory protection program in place
- Provide training on the use of a respirator and personal protective equipment
- Comply with the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
- Report an injury, illness, or fatality
OSHA Revised Enforcement for Close-Fitting Respirators
At the beginning of October OSHA announced temporary guidance for enforcing initial and annual fit testing requirements for tight-fitting powered air-purifying respirators. This revision allows NIOSH-approved tight-fitting powered air-purifying respirators to be used to protect workers in healthcare or other occupations when engaged in activities that place them at high risk or very high risk of contracting COVID-19. These respirators can be used under these circumstances even without a fit test when fit tests are not possible due to shortages of respirators or fit testing equipment. The full text of the guidance document can be found on OSHA’s website.
If you want to learn more about our COVID-related safety consulting service, please give us a call at (864) 979-6676. We’re happy to answer any questions you have.