Tag Archive | "OSHA"

OSHA Whistleblower Protection Program

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OSHA Solicits Public Input on Whistleblower Program

Posted on 22 April 2021 by cradmin

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will hold a teleconference meeting May 19, 2021, to solicit public comments and suggestions on key issues facing OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program.

This is the seventh in a series of meetings on how the agency can improve the whistleblower program.

Open to the public, the meeting will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT via telephone. Those interested in joining or participating in the meeting must register by May 12, 2021. Call-in information will be provided to all registrants. There is no fee to register.

The agency is seeking comments on:

  • How can OSHA better deliver its whistleblower services?
  • What kind of assistance can OSHA provide to help explain the agency’s whistleblower laws to employees and employers?
  • What can OSHA do to ensure that workers are protected from retaliation for raising concerns related to the pandemic?

Materials may be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or by mail. Written or electronic comments must be submitted by May 12, 2021. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. Comments must be identified with Docket No. OSHA-2018-0005.

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OSHA

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Health & Safety Watch: OSHA Launches National Emphasis Program

Posted on 16 March 2021 by cradmin

 In response to President Biden’s executive order on protecting worker health and safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.

NEP inspections will enhance the agency’s previous coronavirus enforcement efforts, and will include some follow-up inspections of worksites inspected in 2020. The program’s focused strategy ensures abatement and includes monitoring the effectiveness of OSHA’s enforcement and guidance efforts. The program will remain in effect for up to one year from its issuance date, though OSHA has the flexibility to amend or cancel the program as the pandemic subsides.

OSHA state plans have adopted varying requirements to protect employees from coronavirus, and OSHA knows many of them have implemented enforcement programs similar to this NEP. While it does not require it, OSHA strongly encourages the rest to adopt this NEP. State plans must notify federal OSHA of their intention to adopt the NEP within 60 days after its issuance.

In a related action, OSHA has also updated its Interim Enforcement Response Plan to prioritize the use of on-site workplace inspections where practical, or a combination of on-site and remote methods. OSHA will only use remote-only inspections if the agency determines that on-site inspections cannot be performed safely. On March 18, 2021, OSHA will rescind the May 26, 2020, memorandum on this topic and this new guidance will go into and remain in effect until further notice.

OSHA will ensure that its Compliance Safety and Health Officers have every protection necessary for onsite inspections. When conducting on-site inspections, OSHA will evaluate all risk and utilize appropriate protective measures, including appropriate respiratory protection and other necessary personal protective equipment.

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Health & Safety Feb. 21

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Health & Safety: OSHA Issues Stronger Coronavirus Workplace Guidance

Posted on 01 February 2021 by cradmin

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus prevention program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. Last week, President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure.

Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” provides updated guidance and recommendations, and outlines existing safety and health standards. OSHA is providing the recommendations to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.

Implementing a coronavirus prevention program is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. The guidance recommends several essential elements in a prevention program:

  • Conduct a hazard assessment.
  • Identify control measures to limit the spread of the virus.
  • Adopt policies for employee absences that don’t punish workers as a way to encourage potentially infected workers to remain home.
  • Ensure that coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English speaking workers.
  • Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.

The guidance details key measures for limiting coronavirus’s spread, including ensuring infected or potentially infected people are not in the workplace, implementing and following physical distancing protocols and using surgical masks or cloth face coverings. It also provides guidance on use of personal protective equipment, improving ventilation, good hygiene and routine cleaning.

OSHA will update this new guidance as developments in science, best practices and standards warrant.

This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of existing mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content and are intended to assist employers in recognizing and abating hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm as part of their obligation to provide a safe and healthful workplace.

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OSHA On-Site Consultation

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OSHA Offers On-Site Consultation Program

Posted on 24 September 2020 by cradmin3

OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small- and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs.

Using a no-cost consultation service largely funded by the OSHA, employers can find out about potential hazards at their worksites, improve their safety and health programs, and even qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections.

The service is delivered by state governments using well-trained professional staff. Most consultations take place on-site, though limited services away from the worksite are available.

Primarily targeted for smaller businesses, this safety and health consultation program is completely separate from the OSHA inspection effort. In addition, no citations are issued or penalties proposed.

The consultation is completely confidential and any information provided about the workplace, plus any unsafe or unhealthful working conditions that the consultant uncovers, will not be reported routinely to the OSHA inspection staff.

The only obligation will be to correct serious job safety and health hazards — a commitment which is expected to be made prior to the actual visit and carried out in a timely manner.

Because consultation is voluntary, it must be requested (see OSHA’s Consultation Directory). The consultant will discuss your company’s specific needs and set up a visit date based on the priority assigned to the request, work schedules and the time needed for the consultant to adequately prepare.

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OSHA National Stand-Down

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7th Annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls Rescheduled

Posted on 18 August 2020 by cradmin3

The 7th Annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls had been postponed and has now been rescheduled for the week of September 14-18.

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.

A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on fall hazards and reinforcing the importance of fall prevention. Employers of companies not exposed to fall hazards, can also use this opportunity to have a conversation with employees about the other job hazards they face, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall and other job hazards they see.

Companies can conduct a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity such as conducting safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans or discussing job specific hazards. Managers are encouraged to plan a stand-down that works best for their workplace anytime. See Suggestions to Prepare for a Successful “Stand-Down” and Highlights from the Past Stand-Downs. OSHA also hosts an  Events page with events that are free and open to the public to help employers and employees find events in your area.

Employers will be able to provide feedback about their Stand-Down and download a Certificate of Participation following the Stand-Down. The certificate pages will be active on September 14, 2020, for employers to enter their information and print their certificate. Share your Stand-Down story on social media with the hashtag #StandDown4Safety.

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Silica Dust Warning Sign

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OSHA Issues Guidance to Ensure Uniform Enforcement of Silica Standards

Posted on 13 July 2020 by cradmin3

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a compliance directive designed to ensure uniformity in inspection and enforcement procedures when addressing respirable crystalline silica exposures in general industry, maritime, and construction.

The new directive provides OSHA compliance safety and health officers with guidance on how to enforce the silica standards’ requirements, including:

  • Methods of compliance
  • Table 1 tasks and specified exposure control methods;
  • Exposure assessments;
  • Housekeeping;
  • Respiratory protection;
  • Regulated areas;
  • Recordkeeping;
  • Employee information and training;
  • Medical surveillance; and
  • Communication of hazards.           

The directive also provides clarity on major topics, such as alternative exposure control methods when a construction employer does not fully and properly implement Table 1, variability in sampling, multi-employer situations, and temporary workers.

OSHA began enforcing most provisions of the construction standard in September 2017, with enforcement of the requirements for sample analysis starting in June 2018. Enforcement of most of the general industry and maritime standards began in June 2018, with enforcement of some medical surveillance requirements commencing on June 23, 2020.

You may also be interested in this article: Natural Stone Institute Debuts Silica & Slab Safety Certificate Program

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OSHA Guidance on Returning to Work

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OSHA Issues Guidance As Non-Essential Businesses Reopen & Employees Return to Work

Posted on 22 June 2020 by cradmin3

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidance to assist employers reopening non-essential businesses and their employees returning to work during the evolving coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance supplements the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ previously developed Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and the White House’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. The guidelines provide general principles for updating restrictions originally put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. During each phase of the reopening process, employers should continue to focus on strategies for basic hygiene, social distancing, identification and isolation of sick employees, workplace controls and flexibilities and employee training.

Non-essential businesses should reopen as state and local governments lift stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders and follow public health recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal requirements or guidelines. Employers should continue to consider ways to use workplace flexibilities, such as remote work and alternative business operations, to provide goods and services to customers.

OSHA recommends that employers continually monitor federal, state, and local government guidelines for updated information about ongoing community transmission and mitigation measures, as well as for evolving guidance on disinfection and other best practices for worker protection.

Visit OSHA’s coronavirus webpage frequently for updates. For further information about the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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OSHA_COVID.5ea08746cead2

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OSHA Adopts Revised Enforcement Policies For Coronavirus

Posted on 27 May 2020 by cradmin3

The 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.

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

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OSHA Clipboard

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OSHA Issues Enforcement Guidance For Recording Cases of COVID-19

Posted on 16 April 2020 by cradmin3

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued interim guidance for enforcing OSHA’s record-keeping requirements (29 CFR Part 1904) as it relates to recording cases of COVID-19.

Under OSHA’s record-keeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19, if the following applies:

  • Is confirmed as a COVID-19 illness;
  • Is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
  • Involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.

OSHA does not consider construction to be a high-risk industry like healthcare and emergency response industries are when it comes to transmission of the virus. As such, the agency said it will not enforce record-keeping requirements to mandate that contractors make determinations regarding whether a COVID-19 case is work related or not. Construction firms can use whatever information is reasonably available to them in deciding whether a COVID-19 case is recordable.

For example, if there are several workers who ride in the same work truck every day and one is diagnosed with COVID-19 and then a second worker who rides in that truck also is diagnosed, that is probably objective evidence that the transmission is work related. However, if both workers attended the same party at the home of someone who had COVID-19, then the employer can consider that evidence as well and determine the cases are not work related.

You may also be interested in this article: OSHA Releases Alert and Guidance on COVID-19

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Coronavirus Resources

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U.S. Department of Labor Provides COVID-19 Resources

Posted on 26 March 2020 by cradmin

As we all continue to navigate the uncertainty brought on by the novel coronavirus, the U.S. Department of Labor has launched a new website to make resources readily available for employers and workers amid the the COVID-19 pandemic.

Workplace Safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has resources to help employers and workers prepare for and respond to coronavirus in the workplace.

Wages, Hours and Leave

The Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and workers face when responding to COVID-19, including the effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Unemployment Insurance Flexibilities

NOTE: Check with your state’s unemployment insurance program regarding the rules in your state.

The Employment and Training Administration announced new guidance outlining state flexibilities in administering their unemployment insurance programs to assist Americans affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Under the guidance, federal law permits significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law allows states to pay benefits where:

  • An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
  • An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and
  • An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.

In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19.

Learn how to file for unemployment insurance benefits.

Support for Dislocated Workers and States

The Employment and Training Administration announced the availability of up to $100 million in National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grants to help states, territories, and tribal governments respond to the workforce-related impacts of COVID-19.

Along with these resources the website also offers links to the latest news articles regarding labor issues caused by COVID-19.

We here at CountertopResource.com feel deeply for those who have been directly impacted by this outbreak and will endeavor to keep you informed, share ideas and provide resources to help you along the way. We wish you all well during this difficult time.

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