As previously announced, it is paramount that employers review business operations to ensure that they are providing a safe work environment in light of the ongoing challenges that the current health crisis presents.

In our continued effort to inform, educate, and keep you aware of requirements for compliance, it is important to understand how agencies are increasing their efforts to monitor.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its Interim Enforcement Response Plan for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which provides a blueprint for the agency’s Area Directors and inspectors to follow when considering opening and conducting a COVID-19-related inspection. The plan gives employers a glimpse into what to expect from OSHA during the pandemic. It is important to provide and document as much training related to COVID-19 exposure prevention.

COVID-19 Inspections

OSHA’s areas offices will prioritize their resources in coordination with their regional offices to determine whether an on-site inspection of the workplace is necessary. Employers should note that OSHA is encouraging their compliance officers to maximize the use of electronic means of communication (including remote video surveillance, phone interviews, email correspondence, facsimile and email transmittals of documents and video conferences) and to consult with their regional solicitors when appropriate.

COVID-19 inspections will be treated as novel cases. The Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP) must be notified of all proposed citations and federal agency notices that relate to a COVID-19 exposure. State Plan designees should report any COVID-19 inspections to their regional offices. Area offices will direct employers to publicly available guidance on protective measures, such as OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage. As it deems appropriate, OSHA will forward complaint information to federal partners with concurrent interests.

Inspection activities resulting from COVID-19-related complaints, referrals and employer-reported illnesses will primarily focus on facilities with jobs involving high risk of exposure. OSHA aims to reassure employers that, during on-site inspections, compliance officers will take care to avoid interfering with any ongoing medical services.

Program and Document Review

  • Determining whether an employer has a written pandemic plan as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If an employer’s plan is a part of another emergency preparedness plan, a compliance officer’s review does not need to be expanded to the entire emergency preparedness plan.
  • Reviewing the facility’s procedures for hazard assessment and protocols for PPE use with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.
  • Determining whether a workplace has handled specimens or evaluated, cared for, or treated suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.
  • Reviewing other relevant information, such as medical records related to worker exposure incidents, OSHA-required record-keeping and any other pertinent information or documentation deemed appropriate by a compliance officer. This includes determining whether any employees have contracted COVID-19, have been hospitalized as a result of COVID-19, or have been placed on precautionary removal or isolation.
  • Reviewing a respiratory protection program and any modified respirator policies related to COVID-19 to assess compliance with respiratory protection standards.
  • Reviewing employee training records, including any records of training related to COVID-19 exposure prevention or made in preparation for a pandemic, if available.
  • Reviewing employer documentation of provisions made to obtain and provide appropriate and adequate supplies of PPE.
  • Determining whether a facility has airborne infection isolation rooms or areas and gathering information about an employer’s use of air pressure monitoring systems and any periodic testing procedures. This also includes reviewing any procedures to limit access by employees who are not trained or adequately outfitted with PPE.
  • Establishing the numbers and placements of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients under isolation at the time of an inspection.
  • Establishing patterns of placements for confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients in the preceding 30 days.
  • Determining and documenting whether an employer has considered or implemented a hierarchy of controls for worker protection. This documentation can be done with photos or design specifications.
OmegaComp HR provides valuable compliance information to keep pace with changing demands.
Should you have any questions, please reach out to our Human Resources Department at 916-266-4370