April 2022 OSHA Quicktakes

workers looking at computer screen together
US Department of Labor announces $3.2M in Susan Harwood grants for workplace safety, health training on infectious diseases, including COVID-19

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced the availability of $3.2 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for Susan Harwood Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, Including COVID-19 grants.

The grants will fund training and education to help workers and employers identify and prevent work-related infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Training topics must focus either on COVID-19 specifically or infectious diseases broadly. The maximum awarded for each grant is $160,000 for a 12-month performance period.

This funding opportunity is separate from the fiscal year 2022 Susan Harwood training grants for Targeted Topic, Training and Educational Materials Development, and Capacity Building. Successful applicants may receive an FY 2021 and/or FY 2022 Harwood training grant (i.e., a Targeted Topic Training, Training and Educational Materials Development, or one of the Capacity Building grants) and a Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, Including COVID-19 grant in the same year.

The Harwood Training Grant program supports remote and in-person hands-on training for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness, and fatality rates; and vulnerable workers, who are underserved, have limited English proficiency, or are temporary workers.

Learn more about the funding opportunity and applying for grants.

Submit applications for Harwood grants online no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 6, 2022.

Starting April 4, 2022, the Data Universal Numbering System number will be replaced by a new, non-proprietary identifier requested in, and assigned by, the System for Award Management. This new identifier is called the Unique Entity Identifier. If you have any questions on the UEI, please visit SAM.gov for assistance.

OSHA awards grants to nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based organizations, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, Native American tribes, and local and state-sponsored colleges and universities to provide infectious disease workplace safety and health training.

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OSHA NEWSLETTER

healthcare workers standing together
Protecting Healthcare Workers

US Department of Labor announces enforcement, effort for focused inspections in hospitals, nursing care facilities treating COVID-19 patients

For two years, millions of the nation’s healthcare workers have been battling the coronavirus. Many have endangered themselves as they care for those who contract COVID-19 while working in high-risk settings that expose themselves and their families.

As the nation moves to the next phase of the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Labor recognizes the need to prepare for any new variants that may emerge and provide healthcare workers the protections they deserve.

The Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced an enforcement memorandum for a short-term increase in highly focused inspections directed at hospitals and skilled nursing care facilities that treat or handle COVID-19 patients.

OSHA’s goal is to expand its presence to ensure continued mitigation to control the spread of COVID-19 and future variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and protect the health and safety of healthcare workers at heightened risk for contracting the virus.

“We are using available tools while we finalize a healthcare standard,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “We want to be ahead of any future events in healthcare.”

The agency will be initiating focused inspections to emphasize monitoring for current and future readiness to protect workers from COVID-19. Follow-up inspections will be conducted at sites that were previously issued citations, as well as where complaints were received but the agency did not conduct in-person inspections.

OSHA intends to expand its presence in targeted high-hazard healthcare facilities during a three-month period from March 9, 2022 to June 9, 2022. Through this focused enforcement initiative, the agency will verify and assess hospital and skilled nursing care employers’ compliance actions taken, including their readiness to address any ongoing or future COVID-19 surges.

This initiative supplements OSHA’s targeted enforcement under the Revised COVID-19 National Emphasis Program [DIR 2021-03 (CPL 03)] by conducting focused follow-up and monitoring inspections of previously inspected or investigated hospitals and skilled nursing care facilities within four North American Industry Classification System codes listed in the memorandum where COVID-19 citations or Hazard Alert Letters were issued, including remote-only inspections where COVID-19-related citations were issued.

This initiative and the revised COVID-19 National Emphasis Program would comprise 15 percent of OSHA’s enforcement activity.

On Dec. 27, 2021, OSHA announced its decision to withdraw the non-recordkeeping portions of the Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard. The agency will accept continued compliance with the Healthcare ETS as satisfying employers’ related obligations under the General Duty Clause, Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protection standards.

OSHA has continually conducted outreach at the national, regional, and area office levels throughout the duration of the pandemic outbreak. Visit the agency’s Coronavirus Disease webpage for more information and resources on keeping workers safe from COVID-19.

Healthcare facilities across the country have been applying key components of the Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard successfully to protect the health and safety of their employees. OSHA would like to learn more about these successful programs. If you would like to share your success stories, please send an email to Healthcaresafety@dol.gov.

OSHA NEWSLETTER

Workers have the right to report tax fraud
Whistleblower Protection

OSHA publishes interim final rule for handling retaliation
complaints under the Taxpayer First Act

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today published an interim final rule establishing procedures and time frames for handling employee retaliation complaints under the Taxpayer First Act. The Taxpayer First Act, enacted July 1, 2019, protects employees who report underpayment of taxes or other potential federal tax law violations or engage in other protected activities. 

OSHA is accepting comments from the public. Submit comments online, identified by Docket No. OSHA–2020–0006 at the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Read the Federal Register notice for additional details. The deadline for submitting comments is May 6, 2022. The interim final rule is effective March 7, 2022.

For additional details about the statute along with instructions on how to file a complaint with OSHA under the Taxpayer First Act, read the fact sheet on Whistleblower Protection for Employees Who Report Federal Tax Law Violations.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Taxpayer First Act and 24 other statutes protecting employees against retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, aviation, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities, tax, antitrust, and anti-money laundering laws and for engaging in other related protected activities. For more information, please visit OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program webpage.

OSHA NEWSLETTER

National Ladder Safety Month
National Ladder Safety Month

Every step matters: From step stools to extension ladders, make sure you’re putting the right foot forward.

Every year over 100 people die in ladder-related accidents, and thousands suffer disabling injuries. The American Ladder Institute (ALI) participated in National Ladder Safety Month in March. This important month was designed to raise awareness of ladder safety and to decrease the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities.

What is National Ladder Safety Month?
National Ladder Safety Month is the only movement dedicated exclusively to the promotion of ladder safety, at home and at work. Help us bring awareness to the importance of the safe use of ladders through resources, training and a national dialogue.

ALI, the only approved developer of safety standards for the U.S. ladder industry, is the presenting sponsor for National Ladder Safety Month.

ALI believes ladder accidents are preventable, but without better safety planning and training and continuous innovation in product design, we will continue to see far too many fatalities. Please join ALI and its members in sharing this message with the world year-round.

The “why”: Every life saved is precious
The goals of National Ladder Safety Month are to:

  • Decrease number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities
  • Increase the number of ladder safety training certificates issued by ALI
  • Increase the frequency that ladder safety training modules are viewed on www.laddersafetytraining.org
  • Lower the rankings of ladder-related safety citations on OSHA’s yearly “Top 10 Citations List”
  • Increase the number of in-person ladder trainings
  • Increase the number of companies and individuals that inspect and properly dispose of old, damaged or obsolete ladders
 

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OSHA NEWSLETTER

Save the Date! August 15-21 is Safe + Sound Week

Join thousands of other participants in promoting the benefits of workplace safety and health programs.

Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide event held each August that recognizes the successes of workplace health and safety programs and offers information and ideas on how to keep America’s workers safe.

Why Participate?
Successful safety and health programs can proactively identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury or illness, improving sustainability and the bottom line. Participating in Safe + Sound Week can help get your program started, energize an existing one, or provide a chance to recognize your safety successes.

Who Participates?
All organizations looking for an opportunity to recognize their commitment to safety are welcome to participate. Last year, more than 5,300 businesses helped to raise awareness about workers’ health and safety!

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OSHA NEWSLETTER

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Audrey Copeland
Author: Audrey Copeland

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