OSHA recently released the new COVID-19 publication Guidance on Returning to Work. The publication addresses planning for reopening, applicable OSHA standards, employer FAQs, and much more.
Category: Safety & Health Initiative
New information from research on COVID-19 is being generated constantly. This reality requires us to carefully monitor the new information and make updates to MCAA’s Model COVID-19 Return to Work Exposure Control Plan as necessary. MCAA’s model plan was recently updated. We recommend that you evaluate the changes to determine whether your company’s plan also requires an update.
The recent changes include:
- The addition of Appendix B – Critical Industries Requirements Summary
- The addition of Appendix H – OSHA Guidance on Returning to Work
- Text changes regarding OSHA now allowing face shields in lieu of cloth face coverings when appropriate
- Text changes regarding the cleaning of power tool batteries
- Text changes regarding surgical masks/PPE
Triangle Enterprises, Inc. is offering both typical and fire-retardant barrier masks. The company converted part of its production to making the masks to help with the shortages brought on by COVID-19.
Some of the chemicals being used to disinfect jobsite surfaces can cause COVID-19 like symptoms in recently disinfected areas without adequate ventilation and/or other protective measures. MCAA recommends that you train all employees to ask appropriate onsite personnel whether chemical disinfection for COVID-19 has been performed recently in the areas they will be working. When chemicals have been recently used in those work areas, workers should request a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the chemical(s) to determine what the health hazards are, and how they can protect themselves. Once they have the SDS(s) they should pay special attention to Section 2 Hazard(s) Identification and Section 8 Exposure Controls/Personal Protection.
There are two new sources for COVID-19 PPE, cloth face coverings, hand sanitizer, etc. for MCAA members. One is the company MONTCO and the other is long-time MCAA partner RESCUE ONE. Both companies are credible, reliable, and have good relationships with MCAA.
MCAA member discount prices are available with MONTCO if you use the discount code “MCA-1” when placing your order. MONTCO is working on an MCAA member order sheet, but in the meantime, you can place your order by e-mail or telephone at: email@example.com, 610-935-9545
Based on new COVID-19 research the CDC has recently changed their guidelines regarding discontinuing isolation for individuals with symptoms of the virus who are caring for themselves at home. The original guidelines for discontinuing isolation specified that at least 7 days had passed since symptoms first appeared and, at least 3 days (72 hours) had passed since recovery. Recovery is defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath). The CDC’s change increases the period of recommended isolation by 3 days, from 7 to 10 days after symptoms begin. Please be sure to change your company’s COVID-19 exposure control plans accordingly.
FURTHER CLARIFICATION & EXAMPLES:
Worker has symptoms, but has not tested positive: Any employee who has not tested positive, but who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 is required to stay off the jobsite until he or she is free of symptoms for 72 hours or more without the use of fever-reducing, or other symptom-altering medications.
Worker tests positive, but has no symptoms: Any employee who does test positive, but is symptom free may return to work when at least 10 days have passed since the date of his or her first positive test, and he or she has not had a subsequent illness.
Worker tested positive, has symptoms and is caring for self at home: Any employees who does test positive and is caring for him or herself at home may return to work when at least 72 hours have passed since recovery, and at least 10 days have passed since the symptoms first appeared.
Worker tested positive and has been hospitalized: Any employee who tests positive and has been hospitalized may return to work when permitted to do so by his or her medical care provider.
Using an effective hand sanitizer is one of the most important things everyone can do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is especially true on construction jobsites and in mechanical service areas where there is no running water. To be effective against COVID-19, the CDC states that hand sanitizers must contain at least 70% alcohol. Since alcohol is flammable, we must be extremely careful when using it. Many things on a jobsite can serve as an ignition source, such as a lighter, a welding torch striker, welding and grinding sparks, even static electricity.
MCAA’s long-time partner Milwaukee Tool has updated their COVID-19 Resource Guide to include additional content on best practices for remote meetings, eSERVICE tool repairs and digital training resources. The guide addresses tool cleaning, operations protocols, digital training, shipping and inventory updates, Milwaukee Tool’s #TOGETHERweSTAND campaign and how to stay in contact with Milwaukee Tool. The guide also includes links to sample documents, including a Health Screening Planning Form, Health Pre-Screening Questionnaire and Potential Considerations for Documenting Procedures. MCAA thanks Milwaukee Tool for the long-standing partnership, and for sharing these resources with MCAA.
Many construction owners, general contractors, and construction managers are now requiring their contractors and subcontractors to produce either a Company COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan, or a Site-Specific COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan. If your company is required to produce either plan, MCAA’s new easily customizable Model COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan will make meeting the requirement very easy. By filling in the highlighted areas, deleting what doesn’t apply to your company or specific jobsite applications, and adding any specialized requirements, you’ll have an effective plan in place very quickly.
Several great questions came out of MCAA’s Webinar #8: COVID-19 OSHA Enforcement Preparation, which was presented on April 17, 2020. See those questions and the answers provided by attorney and presenter Adele Abrams.
As positive cases of COVID-19 increase around the nation there is speculation that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will increase its enforcement efforts. The agency will want to ensure that employers are making a good faith effort to help protect their workers from contracting the virus. California, which is an OSHA state-plan-state, has already started COVID-19 related enforcement actions. OSHA does not have a regulation or standard for COVID-19. However, the agency can cite and fine employers using the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970’s general duty clause, and several other generic regulations and standards. The webinar presenter is occupational safety and health attorney, and long-time MCAA friend, Adele Abrams. Adele discusses what’s anticipated, and how to prepare for it, along with the OSHA record-keeping issue involving COVID-19 cases.
This webinar was recorded Friday, April 17, 2020.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released enforcement guidance for recording cases of COVID-19. Until further notice, OSHA will not enforce its record-keeping requirements to require employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where: (1) There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related; and (2) The evidence was reasonably available to the employer.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released guidance to its regional administrators outlining enforcement discretion to permit the use of filtering facepiece respirators and air-purifying elastomeric respirators that are certified under certain standards of other countries or jurisdictions. The guidelines also address enforcement discretion to permit use when the equipment was previously certified under the standards of other countries or jurisdictions, but are beyond their manufacturer’s recommended shelf life. Essentially, OSHA compliance officers are being directed to verify that employers are:
- Making a good faith effort to use the most appropriate respiratory protection available;
- Ensuring that their respirator users are performing appropriate user seal checks;
- Training their respirator users to discard respirators with compromised structural and/or functional integrity:
- Inspecting, or requiring their respirator users to visually inspect the respirators for defects;
- Avoiding co-mingling of products from different categories of equipment; and
- Training employees on the procedures for the sequence of donning/doffing to prevent self-contamination.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released guidelines to help combat supply shortages of disposable N95 filtering face piece respirators. The agency’s guidelines address alternatives to N95s, and extended use and reuse of the respirators. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is the research arm of OSHA, also released N95 guidelines addressing extended use and reuse of the respirators, specifically for healthcare settings. The CDC/NIOSH guidelines are much more detailed than OSHA’s guidelines. Their recommendations are intended for use by professionals who manage respiratory protection programs in healthcare institutions to protect health care workers from job-related risks of exposure to infectious respiratory illnesses. However, the guidelines provide excellent information for anyone considering extended use or reuse of N95s. For example, the guidelines make the case that extended use is preferred over reuse of the respirators because extended use limits the number of times the respirators will be touched. The guidelines address the risks of extended use and reuse, and provide independent sets of recommendations for extended use, and reuse.
Whenever it’s feasible, it’s best to hire a reputable third party to perform facility cleaning and disinfection services. However, if it will be necessary for you or someone else from your company to perform the cleaning and disinfection service, the following guidelines may help protect that person from exposure to COVID-19. The best way to help protect yourself and others is to have all surfaces that may have been contaminated cleaned and disinfected. Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt and impurities. Disinfecting refers to the use of chemicals to kill the virus.
With so many of us working remotely it’s important to consider the ergonomic design of our workspaces. MCAA’s long-time partner CNA is sharing with us Ergonomic Tips for Working Remotely. The CNA risk control bulletin makes recommendations on chair set-up and adjustments, monitor placement, laptop, keyboard and mouse use, and more.
MCAA developed a best practices guidance document to help protect mechanical construction and service workers from COVID-19 exposure. MCAA and the United Association partnered with several industry experts to gather all facts and proper procedures concerning this virus. Because MCAA members are using the safety talk for worker training, MCAA developed a 20-question multiple choice test and accompanying answer key to help members document that the training occurred, and that trainees understand the training content.