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OSHA Updates Standards for COVID-19

OSHA has recently updated their key standards that may apply to worker exposure to the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

These requirements are being implemented to help to prevent exposure on the jobsite to COVID-19. They state that the most relevant changes made are:

  • OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I), which require using gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection when job hazards warrant it.
    • When respirators are necessary to protect workers, employers must implement a comprehensive respiratory protection program in accordance with the Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
  • The General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1)of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, 29 USC 654(a)(1), which requires employers to furnish to each worker “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
  • OSHA also noted that employers must protect their workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals used for cleaning and disinfection. This is in regards to cleaning products and sanitizers that contain hazardous chemicals. You can find the list of hazardous chemicals from the EPA here: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/selected-epa-registered-disinfectants. If workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals, employers must comply with OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910.1200), Personal Protective Equipment standards (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I) and other applicable OSHA chemical standards.

You can read the full updated standards here.

There are twenty-eight OSHA-approved State Plans, operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA’s and may have different or more stringent requirements. OSHA has updated state standards for these three states as follows:

Colorado: Colorado is under federal OSHA jurisdiction which covers most private sector workers within the state. State and local government workers are not covered by federal OSHA.

Texas: Texas is under federal OSHA jurisdiction which covers most private sector workers within the state. State and local government workers are not covered by federal OSHA.

Arizona: Arizona operates an OSHA-approved State Plan covering most private sector workers and all state and local government workers. https://www.osha.gov/stateplans/az

For other states information, click here.

For more information on this standard visit OSHA’s website at: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/standards.html.

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