OSHA Offers Guidance to Employers on COVID-19 Infractions

Published On
Dec 14, 2020

As more OSHA inspections are turning up infractions related to employers’ failure to protect the safety of workers and others related to COVID-19 exposures and follow-up, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued two documents: one listing the most commonly cited infractions by inspectors conducting workplace inspections, and the other providing guidance to employers on how best to prevent being cited for these infractions.

The first document, “Common COVID-19 Citations: Helping Employers Better Protect Workers and Comply with OSHA Regulation,” lists the most common violations that inspectors have found during workplace inspections. These are, in order of frequency:

  • 1910.134 (Respiratory Protection)
  • Subpart l904 (Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses)
  • 1910.132 (Personal Protective Equipment)
  • Finally, the “General Duty Clause.”

The second document, “Lessons Learned: Frequently Cited Standards Related to COVID-19 Inspections,” provides examples of requirements that employers have most frequently failed to follow:

  • Provide a medical evaluation before a worker is fit-tested or uses a respirator
  • Perform an appropriate fit test for workers using tight-fitting respirators
  • Assess the workplace to determine if COVID-19 hazards are present or likely to be present, which will require the use of a respirator or other personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Establish, implement and update a written respiratory protection program with required worksite-specific procedures
  • Provide an appropriate respirator or other PPE to each employee when necessary to protect the health of the employees (ensuring that the respirator or PPE used is the correct type and size)
  • Train workers to safely use respirators 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 that protects 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, report the fatality to OSHA within eight hours of finding out about it
  • Keep required records of work-related fatalities, injuries and illness

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