On April 13, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an Interim Enforcement Response Plan for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This provides a blueprint for OSHA inspectors to follow when conducting an inspection during the pandemic. I believe that this is the new normal and will continue this way inevitably.
What to Expect
For an inspection, compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) are expected to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes, at a minimum, “goggles, disposable gloves, and disposable gowns or coveralls of appropriate size,” and “a fit-tested half-mask elastomeric respirator with at least an N95 filter.” CSHOs must also adhere to “any facility-imposed PPE requirements” during the inspection. The employer does not have to provide this PPE to the inspector.
Inspectors will conduct an opening conference in a designated, uncontaminated administrative area, or by telephone, if necessary. “As appropriate to the setting,” OSHA notes, “CSHOs should ask to speak to the infection control director, safety director, and/or the health professional responsible for occupational health hazard control.” Private interviews with affected employees should be conducted in uncontaminated areas or, ideally, over the telephone. At all times during an on-site inspection, “CSHOs should practice social distancing (such as maintaining at least 6 feet of distance), if possible, while conducting interviews with employees.”
Inspectors will ask to review the following:
- Respiratory protection programs;
- “Written pandemic plans” as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
- Lab procedures for handling testing specimens;
- Medical records related to worker exposure incident(s);
- OSHA recordkeeping logs;
- “Documentation of provisions made by the employer to obtain and provide appropriate and adequate supplies of PPE”; and
- Training records “related to COVID-19 exposure prevention or in preparation for a pandemic.”
The reference to “written pandemic plans” cites to a CDC Comprehensive Hospital Preparedness Checklist for COVID-19.
The following standards may be cited if they find you to be in violation.
- Section 5(a)(1), General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act).
- 29 C.F.R. § 1904, Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness;
- 29 C.F.R. § 1910.132, General Requirements – Personal Protective Equipment;
- 29 C.F.R. § 1910.133, Eye and Face Protection;
- 29 C.F.R. § 1910.134, Respiratory Protection;
- 29 C.F.R. § 1910.141, Sanitation;
- 29 C.F.R. § 1910.145, Specification for Accident Prevention Signs and Tags;
- 29 C.F.R. § 1910.1020, Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records; and
Drop us a line is you need any assistance in the process. If you need help before the inspection, such as, Written exposure control plans, respiratory protection training and fit-testing, etc. Or if you need help after they come by, give us a call