What Kinds of Citations has OSHA Been Issuing During the Pandemic?

November 10, 2020

OSHA’s enforcement activity has been accelerating as the number of COVID-19 cases has increased.  Now OSHA has issued a guidance designed to give employers an understanding of the most commonly cited violations arising from OSHA COVID-19-related inspections.  They are:

    1. Not providing a medical evaluation before a worker is fit-tested for or uses a respirator.
    2. Not performing an appropriate fit test for workers using tight-fitting respirators.
    3. Not assessing the workplace to determine if COVID-19 hazards are present, or likely to be present, which will require the use of a respirator and/or other personal protective equipment (PPE).
    4. Not establishing, implementing, and updating a written respiratory protection program with required worksite-specific procedures.
    5. Not ensuring that a respirator and/or other PPE is the correct type and size for an employee.
    6. Not training workers to safely use respirators and/or other PPE in the workplace, and failing to retrain workers about changes in the workplace that might make previous training obsolete.
    7. Not storing respirators and other PPE properly in a way to protect them from damage, contamination, and, deformation of the facepiece and exhalation valve.
    8. Not reporting a fatality that occurs within 30 days of a work-related incident and within eight hours of finding out about it.
    9. Not keeping required records of work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses.

The overwhelming majority of citations issued thus far have involved health care-related facilities and some food processing facilities.  However, most inspections and citations occur as the result of complaints made to OSHA, so employers should not be complacent about doing all they reasonably can to keep employees and the public safe from the virus.  According to its website, as of November 8, OSHA had received 10,115 COVID-related complaints, of which 1,335 have been referred for enforcement action.  (This does not include complaints processed by states with their own OSHA programs.  Wisconsin does not have its own program.) The following is the breakdown of the most affected industries:

Health Care 2,429 complaints
Retail Trade 1,149
Grocery Stores 168
Construction 306
General Warehousing and Storage 193
Eating Establishments 608

The new guidance can be found at:  U.S. Department of Labor Issues Guidance Alerting Employers to Frequently Cited Standards Related to COVID-19 Inspections.

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