COVID-19: The Top-Cited OSHA Standards, and How to Mitigate Them
The Covid-19 crisis has plunged many businesses into one of their most challenging times. Employers are struggling to keep pace with the new rules and regulations to keep workers, suppliers and the public safe during the pandemic but also to lessen the impact on generating business, maintaining client outreach and managing the financial impact covid-19 has made.
How are you keeping you, your employees, and the public safe while continuing to work during the COVID-19 crisis? This is a common question not only among business owners and managers but also essential workers everywhere.
Employee morale is low, and cases seem to be ever on the rise. To help combat these effects on businesses and workers, OSHA has shared the top-cited infractions during the pandemic.
OSHA’s Frequently Cited Standards Related to COVID-19 Inspections
OSHA’s has released the most common citations that are being issued during the pandemic; these are:
- Failure to providing a medical assessment before a worker makes use of a respirator or is fit-tested
- Lack of training employees to safely make use of respirators and other PPEs in the workplace
- Neglecting to retrain employers regarding changes in the workplace that could make initial training obsolete
- A disregard for keeping records of illnesses, injuries and fatalities related to work
- Failure in storing respirators and other PPEs in a proper manner that will safeguard them from contamination, damage and face-piece deformation and exhalation valve where necessary
- Coming up short with establishing, updating and implementing a written respiratory protection program that has the essential worksite-specific procedures
When OSHA shows up on your site, they are actively looking for accurate and up-to-date record-keeping concerning Covid-19 protocols in the workplace. Below are a few examples of additional measures that should be currently taking place to help mitigate the possibility of a citation on your business and your employees.
Additional Covid-19 Measures You Should be Doing
The CDC measures used to combat the spread of COVID-19 across the world are flattening the curve and slowing the spread of new cases.
The effects of COVID-19 vary from state to state. Because of that, local governments, working with local public health authorities, may change or update safety measures depending on where you live.
However, we’re seeing a positive change concerning outbreaks when these additional measures have been adopted into the work day.
1. Daily Screening Process
Screenings should be taking place before employees or the public enter the business/job site. The required questions tend to vary from state to state but all center around identifying possible symptoms and exposures. It is important to keep in mind that the form itself can be as simple as a “Yes” or “No” questionnaire, thus reducing the amount of time required to fill it out.
Here are some questions commonly found on a Daily Screening Form, currently being used in the construction industry:
- Have you knowingly been in close or proximity contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has had symptoms of COVID-19?
- Have you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
- Do you have any of these symptoms that are not caused by another condition: Fever or chills, cough, etc….
The goal of daily screening is to catch any positive cases before they progress to an outbreak but also to identify who the worker has been in contact with. Having these records is a valuable tool when narrowing down when/where the exposure took place.
2. Exposure Process
What happens if someone has been exposed or has symptoms? We all know identifying an issue is the first step in finding a resolution to a problem. We have taken that step with our Daily Screening Process, but now what?
Typically, the response looks as follows:
- The employee is sent home to isolate for “10 days since symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication and other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving”
- Employee required to take a COVID-19 test
- The Project manager and HR are notified immediately so
Contact tracing by utilizing the Daily Screening Tool is completed
What new cleaning/sanitization procedures have you initiated since covid-19? How do you ensure that these new procedures are being followed?
Jobsite Hazard Assessments are a staple in the construction industry, updating your current JHA to accommodate identification and controls of all Covid-19 related hazards is a must.
The JHA should include (but not limited to) shared tools and vehicle sanitization both at the start and end of the day. This coupled with daily screening ensures that employees are starting and finishing their day in a clean environment while minimizing the risk of exposure to Covid-19
“Knowledge is Power” – Francis Bacon
Arming your crews with up to date Covid-19 prevention and sanitization methods is paramount. What is the best way to get this information out? Toolbox Talks are an informal group safety meeting that dial in on a particular safety issue. Utilizing your current Toolbox Talk program is a great way to distribute Covid-19 related information out to your teams in the field.
Tools to Help Navigate the Pandemic
Everyone is tired and weary of continuing to work during the pandemic, I hope this article shed some light on some of the steps that should be taken to help pull through this together.
Safety Apps are great tools to help get vital training out to the crews in the field. SafetyHQ contains Toolbox Talks concerning everything from Covid-19 to Heat Stress available in both English and Spanish and can deliver and track these meetings with a touch of a button.
SafetyHQ has also made available a free version of the app oriented strictly around Covid-19 to help keep workers safe. Click the button below to download it now. learn more about the Free Covid-19 Safety App.