OSHA Issues Guidance Alerting Employers of Commonly Cited COVID-19 Standards

Written November 18, 2020

Categories: AD Advocacy, CP Advocacy, DP Advocacy, DT Advocacy, ES Advocacy, First to Know, FP Advocacy, GP Advocacy, IPDAA Advocacy, SM Advocacy, WIP Advocacy

As the pandemic continues unabated and the number of COVID-19 infections increases, OSHA has stepped up enforcement of its regulations that help prevent the spread of the virus. As of November 13, 2020, OSHA had issued 204 citations relating to COVID-19 with total penalties of almost $2,856,533. 

To assist companies in avoiding a penalty, OSHA issued a guidance and an accompanying one-pager to clarify which standards are most frequently cited during coronavirus-related inspections. OSHA compiled data from heavily cited establishments to create two new resources for employers to use during the current pandemic. The documents are based on data from citations that were issued in hospitals and healthcare, nursing homes and long-term care settings, and meat/poultry processing facilities.  

The six-page guidance document and accompanying one-page summary provide resources that address respiratory protection, PPE, and the recording and reporting of injuries and illnesses. The Agency noted the common employer failures resulting in citations: 

  • Assess the workplace to determine if COVID-19 hazards require using respirators or other personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Establish, implement, and update a written respiratory protection program with required worksite-specific procedures. 
  • Provide appropriate (including correct type and size) respirator or PPE when necessary. 
  • Provide a medical evaluation before a worker is fit-tested or uses a respirator.
  • Properly fit-test workers using tight-fitting respirators.
  • Train workers on safe respirator/PPE use and retrain as needed in case of workplace changes.
  • Store respirators and other PPE properly to prevent damage or contamination.
  • Record and/or report (as appropriate) work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses.

While most employees in a printing operation will fall into OSHA’s low risk category, some employees who interact with the public, such as those who have a storefront, will fall into the medium risk category. The required use of respirators such as a N-95 mask would be rare, however, if N-95 masks are used voluntarily for any reason, a respirator program be implemented.   

If you need assistance in developing a COVID-19 response plan or to enhance an existing one, download a copy of the PRINTING United Alliance’s COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan, which is free for members. For more information or if you have questions, please reach out to Marci Kinter, mkinter@printing.org; Gary Jones at gjones@printing.org, or Adriane Harrison at aharrison@printing.org.