OSHA’s Virus Protection Program Could Put Home Health Agencies Under the Microscope

In response to an executive order from President Joe Biden, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a national emphasis program aimed at protecting workers from COVID-19 while on the job.

OSHA, part of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), is responsible for assuring “safe and healthy working conditions” for most workers in the U.S..

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Labor Dept. Issues Stronger Workplace Guidance on Coronavirus

  • New OSHA guidance seeks to mitigate, prevent viral spread in the workplace

The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus protection program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. Last week, President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure.

Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” provides updated guidance and recommendations, and outlines existing safety and health standards. OSHA is providing the recommendations to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.

“More than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and millions of people are out of work as a result of this crisis. Employers and workers can help our nation fight and overcome this deadly pandemic by committing themselves to making their workplaces as safe as possible,” said Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Labor M. Patricia Smith. “The recommendations in OSHA’s updated guidance will help us defeat the virus, strengthen our economy and bring an end to the staggering human and economic toll that the coronavirus has taken on our nation.”

Implementing a coronavirus protection program is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. The guidance announced today recommends several essential elements in a prevention program:

  • Conduct a hazard assessment.
  • Identify control measures to limit the spread of the virus.
  • Adopt policies for employee absences that don’t punish workers as a way to encourage potentially infected workers to remain home.
  • Ensure that coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English speaking workers.
  • Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.

“OSHA is updating its guidance to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus and improve worker protections so businesses can operate safely and employees can stay safe and working,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick.

The guidance details key measures for limiting coronavirus’s spread, including ensuring infected or potentially infected people are not in the workplace, implementing and following physical distancing protocols and using surgical masks or cloth face coverings. It also provides guidance on use of personal protective equipment, improving ventilation, good hygiene and routine cleaning.

OSHA will update today’s guidance as developments in science, best practices and standards warrant.

This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of existing mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content and are intended to assist employers in recognizing and abating hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm as part of their obligation to provide a safe and healthful workplace.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. Learn more about OSHA.

Labor Dept. Issues Stronger Workplace Guidance on Coronavirus

New OSHA guidance seeks to mitigate, prevent viral spread in the workplace The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus protection program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. Last week,…

Dept of Labor Announces Annual Adjustments to OSHA Civil Penalties

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced adjustments to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) civil penalty amounts based on cost-of-living adjustments for 2021.

In 2015, Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act to advance the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and to maintain their deterrent effect. Under the Act, agencies are required to publish “catch-up” rules that adjust the level of civil monetary penalties, and make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation no later than January 15 of each year.

OSHA’s maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations will increase from $13,494 per violation to $13,653 per violation. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $134,937 per violation to $136,532 per violation.

Visit the OSHA Penalties page for more information. The Department of Labor Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Annual Adjustments for 2021 final rule is effective January 15, 2021, and the increased penalty levels apply to any penalties assessed after January 15, 2021.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

Dept of Labor Announces Annual Adjustments to OSHA Civil Penalties

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced adjustments to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) civil penalty amounts based on cost-of-living adjustments for 2021. In 2015, Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act to advance the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and to maintain their deterrent effect. Under the Act, agencies…

OSHA Injury, Illness Report Due March 2

March 2, 2020 is the deadline for electronically reporting your Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Form 300A data for calendar year 2019. OSHA, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, began collecting calendar year 2021 Form 300A data from employers on Jan. 2, 2021. Employers must submit the form electronically by March 2, 2021. Electronic…

OSHA Injury, Illness Report Due March 2

March 2, 2020, is the deadline for electronically reporting your Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Form 300A data for calendar year 2019. Collection began January 2, 2020. OSHA published a Final Rule to amend its recordkeeping regulation to remove the requirement to electronically submit to OSHA information from the OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries…

House Approves Health Workplace Violence Prevention Legislation

Last week the House of Representatives passed legislation extending employee protections against violence in the workplace. Introduced as the Workplace Violence Prevention for Heath Care and Social Service Workers Act, H.R. 1309, by Rep. Joe Courtney, the vote passed with a tally of 251 in favor and 158 opposed. In introducing the bill, Rep. Courtney…

New Standards for Handling Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings

Effective December 1, 2019, all health care providers are required to follow standards for the safe handling of hazardous drugs (HDs). The U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) chapter 800 is set of standards for handling of hazardous drugs (HDs) where there is a risk of exposure to patients, healthcare workers, and the environment. USP General Chapter 800…

House of Reps Contingent Seeks OSHA Workplace Violence Prevention Standard

In late February 2019, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and several other members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309). The Education and Labor Committee held a subcommittee hearing on the legislation on February 27. As of this writing H.R. 1309 has…