NSC: OSHA must immediately issue emergency temporary standard to protect workers from COVID-19

As businesses across the country send more workers back to traditional operations post-quarantine, they are doing so without a federal standard to protect their workers from COVID-19 exposure – even more problematic given 20 states are reporting surges in cases. In response, the National Safety Council is calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to immediately exercise its emergency authority and issue a temporary emergency standard to protect workers during the pandemic and reopening.

In a new policy position statement, NSC states its intention to compel OSHA to act through legislative, administrative, judicial and public means.

“Employers must know the specific measures they are required to take to protect their workers and the public,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of NSC. “NSC has been an ardent, strong supporter of OSHA since the agency’s founding, and we have watched it take life-saving actions in the midst of other crisis situations. We expect it will do so again, especially knowing that safety is vital to not only workers’ health, but also to our economic recovery as a nation.”

In the absence of a regulation, OSHA has stated its authority to issue citations to workplaces through the general duty clause1 from the OSH Act. However, as of May 15, 2020, the agency has not issued any citations citing the general duty clause at workplaces. This is despite worker deaths from COVID-19 and virus transmission hotspots being reported throughout the country, particularly in the meatpacking industry and long-term care facilities.

Issues that should be addressed within a federal standard include but are not limited to:

  1. Accessibility to hand-washing in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations
  2. Physical distancing requirements following CDC guidelines
  3. Facial coverings that may include personal protective equipment (PPE) or cloth facial coverings based on the work environment and risk assessment
  4. Utilization of the hierarchy of controls to include engineering and administrative controls and PPE use
  5. Workplace COVID-19 symptom screening protocols
  6. Workplace response plan development

Share on Socials!

Related Articles

Related Articles

ASSP Foundation awards $328,000 in scholarships and grants

The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) Foundation is awarding $328,000 in academic scholarships and professional education grants to 117 individuals to help them achieve their ...
Read More

Return to work a “balancing act” for HR

As branch and office reopenings continue, human resources (HR) professionals will play a critical and multifaceted role in shaping what the return to work will look ...
Read More

Radians Explosive Growth Leads to Memphis Campus Expansion

Radians®, a top-tier PPE manufacturer, is excited to announce the expansion of its Memphis campus with a new building lease at 5335 Mineral Wells Road that ...
Read More

Follow IHW!

Leaders in Industrial Hygiene

 

AccuTec-IHS
BOWMAN Dispensers, LLC
ENMET
HafcoVac
ILC
Miller Electric
Nilfisk
OHD
SHOWA
TSI

 

Subscribe!

Sign up to receive our industry publications for FREE!

Industrial Hygiene

Construction Safety