The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued temporary guidance for enforcing initial and annual fit-testing requirements related to tight-fitting powered air-purifying respirators. The action marks the Department’s latest step to ensure the availability of respirators and follows President Donald J. Trump’s Memorandum on Making General Use Respirators Available.
The new enforcement discretion policy permits the use of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved tight-fitting powered air-purifying respirators for protection against the coronavirus when initial and/or annual fit testing is infeasible due to respirator and fit-testing supply shortages. The guidance applies to healthcare personnel and other workers in high or very high exposure risk activities.
Sega Sammy Creations USA Inc. is a gaming machine manufacturing company whose products cater to casino operators across Nevada and California. After attending OSHA training courses, the company created a written workplace safety program. On February 12, 2020, the company contacted Nevada Safety Consultation and Training Section (SCATS) to review their written program and conduct a safety visit of the office and warehouse.
During the Consultation visit, the SCATS consultant identified hazards in the office area and the warehouse such as multiple extension cords being plugged in together and not using all appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for forklift battery refilling. The consultant immediately notified the company’s Director of Operations of these hazards, which were promptly corrected. After this first Consultation visit, the company was able to fine tune its safety measurements and written programs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a public health emergency that has dramatically increased demand for respirators, particularly N-95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), as well as fit-testing supplies ordinarily used to ensure that respirators fit workers properly and provide the expected level of protection. Shortages (either intermittent or extended) of both FFRs and fit-testing supplies have posed tremendous challenges. In order to allow essential operations to continue, many employers have had to utilize contingency and crisis strategies that are ordinarily not compliant with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard.
Brandenburg Industrial Service Company (Brandenburg) and the Kansas City Area Office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognize the importance of providing a safe and healthy work environment for employees engaged in the construction industry. This OSHA Strategic Partnership Agreement (OSP) at the Bannister Federal Complex Demolition project in Kansas City, MO, will facilitate the goals of OSHA to reduce occupational-related fatalities and serious injuries and illnesses within the construction industry.
The Bannister Federal Complex is comprised of approximately 4.5 million square feet, and located on 300 acres, at 2000 East 95th Terrace, Kansas City, MO. The site was originally used for agricultural purposes until the early 1920’s, when the Kansas City Racetrack was constructed, and briefly operated. In 1943, during World War II, Pratt & Whitney began manufacturing airplane engines at the site and did so until 1948, when the production of jet engines commenced. Jet engines were manufactured between 1948 – 1961. Beginning in 1949, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission expanded manufacturing operations, including the manufacture of non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons. A majority of the buildings in the complex supported manufacturing activities; the remaining buildings supported non-manufacturing activities such as warehousing and administration. Until recently, the western side of the Bannister Federal Complex have been under the auspices of the General Services Administration (GSA).
As the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic became increasingly apparent, government entities around the country began gathering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for use by frontline workers. In New Jersey, staff from the state’s On-Site Consultation program were part of a team that helped ensure that donated PPE was safe to distribute to frontline workers in the state.
The State of New Jersey maintains a supply of PPE that is stored in a warehouse by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP). In late March of 2020, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM) Preparedness Bureau asked the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) for assistance in inspecting thousands of pieces of donated PPE to ensure suitability for distribution.