By Brad Sant, senior vice president of safety and education, ARTBA
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued interim guidance April 16 directing its inspectors to consider an employers’ good faith efforts in complying with safety and health standards during the coronavirus pandemic. According the agency, it “will take employers’ attempts to comply in good faith into strong consideration when determining whether it cites a violation.” OSHA’s enforcement efforts are in line with requests from ARTBA to provide assistance and clear guidance to employers during these unprecedented working conditions.
Under the interim guidance, in situations where compliance was not possible, OSHA’s compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) will seek to ensure employees were not exposed to hazards from tasks, processes, or equipment for which they were not prepared or trained. The CSHO assessment will review the employer’s efforts to explore all options to comply with applicable standards and consideration of any interim alternative employee protections. OSHA notes “[t]he agency may issue a citation if it finds an employer cannot demonstrate any efforts to comply.” Employers must also take corrective action as soon as possible after a return to “normal activity.”
Adding to a number of recent communications with OSHA, ARTBA and the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) sent an April 17 letter to OSHA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt seeking guidance and information in two areas:
- Reportability of COVID-19 cases when an employee is sent for in-patient medical care or in the event of a fatality.
- The recommended approach to social distancing and face coverings in construction and applicability of the General Duty Clause with regards to the recommended practices.
ARTBA will continue to monitor, report, and advocate on behalf of the transportation construction industry regarding reasonable and effective efforts to keep workers safe during the coronavirus pandemic. For additional information, please contact Brad Sant.
Editor’s Note: See ARTBA’s Outreach Prompts COVID-19 Clarification From OSHA