May 2022 OSHA Quicktakes

worker wiping forehead in hot environment
Protecting Workers From Heat

WASHINGTON – For the first time, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a National Emphasis Program to protect millions of workers from heat illness and injuries. Through the program, OSHA will conduct heat-related workplace inspections before workers suffer completely preventable injuries, illnesses or, even worse, fatalities.

Secretary Marty Walsh today joined Vice President Kamala Harris at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 Training Center in Philadelphia to announce the new enforcement program.

Heat illness affects thousands of indoor and outdoor workers each year and can tragically lead to death. Reducing workplace heat-related illnesses and injuries is a top priority for the Department of Labor, and this National Emphasis Program is a way to immediately improve enforcement and compliance efforts, while continuing long-term work to establish a heat illness prevention rule. These efforts are part of a larger, interagency Biden-Harris administration effort to protect workers and communities from extreme heat and rising temperatures resulting from climate change.

“Tragically, the three-year average of workplace deaths caused by heat has doubled since the early 1990s. These extreme heat hazards aren’t limited to outdoor occupations, the seasons or geography. From farm workers in California to construction workers in Texas and warehouse workers in Pennsylvania, heat illness – exacerbated by our climate’s rising temperatures – presents a growing hazard for millions of workers,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “This enforcement program is another step towards our goal of a federal heat standard. Through this work, we’re also empowering workers with knowledge of their rights, especially the right to speak up about their safety without fear of retaliation. I’m grateful for the Vice President’s leadership on this issue, and for her demonstrated commitment to keeping workers safe on the job.”

As part of the program, OSHA will proactively initiate inspections in over 70 high-risk industries in indoor and outdoor work settings when the National Weather Service has issued a heat warning or advisory for a local area. On days when the heat index is 80 F or higher, OSHA inspectors and compliance assistance specialists will engage in proactive outreach and technical assistance to help stakeholders keep workers safe on the job. Inspectors will look for and address heat hazards during inspections, regardless of whether the industry is targeted in the NEP.

“Our goal is to make it safe for workers in hot indoor and outdoor environments, so that they can return home safe and healthy at the end of each day,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Working together, we can ensure workers know their rights and employers meet their obligations in order to protect workers from the growing dangers of extreme heat.”

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OSHA NEWSLETTER

healthcare workers standing together
COVID-19 Healthcare Rulemaking

On June 21, 2021, OSHA published an interim final rule establishing an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect healthcare and healthcare support service workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19 in settings where people with COVID-19 are reasonably expected to be present (86 FR 32376). The ETS took effect immediately but also served as a proposed rule on which OSHA requested comment. OSHA received comments concerning the ETS during the comment period, which was to end on July 21, 2021, but was extended to August 20, 2021, in response to requests from the public (86 FR 38232). In accordance with 29 USC 655(c)(3), the agency is now preparing to promulgate a final standard.

On March 22, 2022, OSHA announced a limited re-opening of the record and the agency’s intention to hold an informal public hearing to gather certain additional information from healthcare industry stakeholders – Federal Register Notice

OSHA NEWSLETTER

workers kneeling on roof
Fall Prevention

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 351 of the 1,008 construction fatalities recorded in 2020 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.

What is a Safety Stand-Down?

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.

Who Can Participate?

Anyone who wants to prevent hazards in the workplace can participate in the Stand-Down. In past years, participants included commercial construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. Military, other government participants, unions, employer’s trade associations, institutes, employee interest organizations, and safety equipment manufacturers.

Partners

OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA approved State Plans, State consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers.

How to Conduct a Safety Stand-Down and FAQs

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.

If you plan to host a free event that is open to the public, you may submit the event details here or contact your Regional Stand-Down Coordinator.

OSHA NEWSLETTER

Reporting screen
Reporting Requirements

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is initiating an enforcement program that identifies employers who failed to submit Form 300A data through the agency’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA). Annual electronic submissions are required by establishments with 250 or more employees currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and establishments with 20-249 employees classified in specific industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses.

The program matches newly opened inspections against a list of potential non-responders to OSHA’s collection of Form 300A data through the ITA and reports all matches to the appropriate OSHA area office. If the area office determines that the establishment on the list is the same establishment where the inspection was opened, OSHA will issue citations for failure to submit OSHA Form 300A Summary data.

In addition to identifying non-responders at the establishment level, the agency is also reviewing the 2021 submitted data to identify non-responders at a corporate-wide level. This corporate level review is being conducted for the nation’s largest employers.

OSHA developed the program in response to recommendations from the Government Accountability Office to improve reporting of summary injury and illness data.  The initiative will begin in early April.

“OSHA believes that it is vital for the public to have access to illness and injury information that employers provide in their annual submissions,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “We are committed to enforcing this important requirement and will continue to look for strategies to reach full compliance.”

The agency is also posting ITA data as part of its electronic recordkeeping requirements for certain employers. By mid-March, 289,849 establishments had submitted their OSHA Form 300A information.

Public access to injury and illness data for industries, companies and establishments allows employers, workers, potential employees, and others to better understand workplace safety and health outcomes at an employer or industry, allowing them to make valuable insights and informed decisions. Employers of all sizes can use this data to benchmark with others in their industry or compare results across their operations. This accessibility will help identify and mitigate workplace hazards, and ultimately result in the reduction of occupational injuries and illnesses.

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OSHA NEWSLETTER

worker in safety vest and mask
DOL is Here to Help

Exercising your rights begins with knowing who to contact if you have a concern. DOL agencies are here to help with questions about safety and health, and fair pay, regardless of your immigration status.

  • Workers have the right to be safe and healthy on the job. OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) protect this right by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.
  • Workers have the right to be paid properly for all hours worked. The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce.

 

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OSHA NEWSLETTER

office employee on telephone
Whistleblower Protections

OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes protecting employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, 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.

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OSHA NEWSLETTER

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Audrey Copeland
Author: Audrey Copeland

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