WASHINGTON—As the nation faces the coronavirus pandemic, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is dedicated to keeping the American workforce safe and healthy. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt testified before the House Education and Labor Committee’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee about the agency’s role during the crisis.
“Throughout the ongoing pandemic, OSHA’s work is continuing uninterrupted,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt. “From conducting thousands of investigations to issuing critical guidance aimed at protecting workers in high-risk industries, OSHA is on the job protecting America’s workers against the coronavirus.”
Sweatt’s written testimony is posted here. The Department is highlighting OSHA’s continued work to keep American workers safe during these unprecedented times. OSHA has released many public statements related to the coronavirus pandemic including:
- U.S. Department of Labor Expands Temporary Guidance for Respirator Fit-Testing to All Industries During COVID-19 Pandemic—OSHA has expanded temporary guidance provided in a March 14, 2020, memorandum regarding supply shortages of N95s or other filtering face piece respirators (FFRs) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This expanded guidance applies to all workplaces covered by OSHA where there is required respirator use.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Temporary Enforcement Guidance for Respirator Fit-Testing in Healthcare during COVID-19 Outbreak—Following President Trump’s memorandum on the availability of respirators during the COVID-19 outbreak, OSHA has issued new temporary guidance regarding the enforcement of its s Respiratory Protection standard.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Additional Respirator Guidance for Healthcare During The Coronavirus Pandemic—OSHA issued its fifth guidance document aimed at expanding availability of respirators as front line workers respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The latest interim guidance document outlines acceptable methods for decontaminating and reusing disposable N95 FFRs.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Guidance for Respirators Certified under Other Countries’ Standards During COVID-19 Pandemic—OSHA has issued interim enforcement guidance regarding disposable N95 FFRs that are either certified under certain standards of other countries or jurisdictions or certified under other countries’ or jurisdictions’ standards but are expired.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Guidance for Respiratory Protection During N95 Shortage Due to COVID-19 Pandemic—OSHA has issued interim enforcement guidance to help combat supply shortages of disposable N95 FFRs. The action marks the department’s latest step to ensure the availability of respirators and follows Trump’s Memorandum on Making General Use Respirators Available.
Protecting Workers in High-Risk Industries:
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Alert to Keep Nursing Home and Long-Term Care Facility Workers Safe During Coronavirus Pandemic—OSHA issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to help protect nursing home and long-term care facility workers from exposure to the coronavirus.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Alert to Help Keep Retail Pharmacy Workers Safe During the Coronavirus Pandemic—OSHA has issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to help protect retail pharmacy workers from exposure to the coronavirus.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Alert for Rideshare, Taxi And Car Service Safety During Coronavirus Pandemic—OSHA has issued an alert listing safety tips to help reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus in the car service industry.
- U.S. Department of Labor Publishes New OSHA Poster Aimed At Reducing Workplace Exposure to the Coronavirus—OSHA issued a new poster listing steps all workplaces can take to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Alert to Keep Package Delivery Workers Safe during COVID-19 Pandemic—OSHA issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to help protect package delivery workers from exposure to coronavirus.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Alert to Keep Retail Workers Safe During Coronavirus Pandemic—OSHA issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to help protect retail workers from exposure to coronavirus.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Alert to Help Keep Manufacturing Workers Safe During Coronavirus Pandemic—OSHA issued an alert identifying workplace safety practices to help protect manufacturing workers from exposure to coronavirus.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Alert to Help Keep Construction Workers Safe During The Coronavirus Pandemic—OSHA issued an alert identifying workplace safety practices to help protect construction workers from exposure to coronavirus.
- OSHA Issue Safety Alert for Restaurant, Food and Beverage Businesses Providing Curbside Pickup and Takeout Service—OSHA released guidance to help restaurant, food and beverage businesses to keep employees safe while utilizing curbside pickup and takeout service delivery methods. The guidance includes practical recommendations like avoiding direct hand-off when possible and practicing social distancing.
Enforcing Safety in the Workplace:
- U.S. Department of Labor Adopts Revised Enforcement Policies For Coronavirus—OSHA has adopted revised policies for enforcing its requirements with respect to coronavirus as economies reopen in states throughout the country.
- U.S. Department of Labor Announces OSHA Interim Enforcement Response Plan to Protect Workers During The Coronavirus Pandemic—OSHA announced an interim enforcement response plan for the coronavirus pandemic that provides instructions and guidance to OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals and severe illness reports. The plan concentrates enforcement on coronavirus exposures of health workers, emergency responders and others.
- U.S. Department of Labor Reminds Employers That They Cannot Retaliate Against Workers Reporting Unsafe Conditions During Coronavirus Pandemic—OSHA is reminding employers that it is illegal to retaliate against workers because they report unsafe and unhealthful working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. Acts of retaliation can include terminations, demotions, denials of overtime or promotion, or reductions in pay or hours.
- OSHA and CDC Issue Interim Guidance to Protect Workers in Meatpacking and Processing Industries—OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released joint interim guidance for meatpacking and meat processing workers and employers—including those involved in beef, pork, and poultry operations. The guidance includes recommended actions employers can take to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
- Statement of Enforcement Policy by Solicitor of Labor Kate O’Scannlain and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for OSHA Loren Sweatt regarding Meat and Poultry Processing Facilities—Responding to Trump’s Executive Order, Solicitor of Labor Kate O’Scannlain and OSHA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt released a statement of enforcement policy. The statement, which addresses guidance and enforcement actions regarding worker safety at meat, pork and poultry processing facilities, provides clarity for businesses whose continued operation will be critical to America’s food supply.
Offering Clear Direction for Employers:
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Enforcement Guidance For Recording Cases of COVID-19—OSHA issued interim guidance for enforcing its recordkeeping requirements (29 CFR Part 1904) as it relates to recording cases of COVID-19.
- U.S. Department of Labor Considers Employer’s Good Faith Efforts When Enforcing Compliance During COVID-19 Pandemic—OSHA issued interim guidance that advises compliance safety and health officers to evaluate an employer’s good faith efforts to comply with safety and health standards during the coronavirus pandemic. Employers are also expected to take corrective action as soon as possible once normal activities resume.