COVID-19 continues to present challenges to safety professionals in protecting workers against exposure to the virus. New OSHA guidance provides employers insight into which OSHA standards have been most frequently cited during COVID-19-related inspections. The agency encourages employers to use this information to take additional steps to safeguard their employees.
These inspections were initiated following referrals, complaints and fatalities in settings and industries including nursing homes and long-term care settings and meat/poultry processing facilities.
The most frequent violations include:
- Not performing appropriate fit testing of respirators
- Failure to keep required records of work-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities
- Improper storage of respirators and other PPE in a way that can damage, contaminate or deform the equipment
- Not conducting an assessment to determine if COVID-19 hazards are present or likely to be present, requiring the use of a respirator and/or other PPE
- Insufficient training on the safe use of respirators and/or other PPE in the workplace
- Failure to establish, implement and update a written respiratory protection program with required site-specific procedures
- Not providing a medical evaluation before workers are fit-tested or use a respirator
The guidance notes that while OSHA has temporarily exercised some enforcement discretion regarding respirators, employers must demonstrate and document good-faith efforts to comply with OSHA standards, as summarized in Understanding Compliance With OSHA’s Respiratory Standard During the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic.
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