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IECRM MEMBER FORUM RECAP – OSHA 2021/Current COVID Updates – April 2021

IECRM MEMBER FORUM RECAP – OSHA 2021/Current COVID Updates
Thursday, April 15, 2021 7:30 AM – 8:30 AM Hosted by IECRM

IECRM is honored to provide our members with value-rich forums that pertain to our industry. Below you will find a bulleted recap of the discussion and helpful links to resources.

Upcoming Safety Forum: Wednesday, April 28 – UL on Specific Equipment. Register now to join the upcoming live discussion.   

If you have any questions to ask of our subject matter experts or suggestions for future Member Forums, please contact IECRM CEO Marilyn Akers Stansbury at marilyn@iecrm.org or 303.853.4886.

SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS

 

  • John Olaechea  | CIH, CSP
    Compliance Assistance Specialist
    OSHA Region VIII

 

olaechea.john@dol.gov | O:  (720) 264-6586

 

 

Forum Recap

Vaccine Update

  • People are settling into the option that they can have a mandatory vaccination policy for their company employees.
  • Some are receiving pushback from those who are vaccinated and wanting to not wear masks any longer.
  • Those who have come back into the workplace and are sharing that they are vaccinated are wanting to hang out with only those who are vaccinated.  This prompts concern for retaliation from people being left out.  Be aware of that.  
  • There is no good silver bullet to handle this right now.  Many employers are putting out memos about not treating others differently because they are/are not vaccinated.
  • The position the EEOC is taking is that you can mandate a vaccination as long as there are exceptions provided.
    • Q:  Will the employer have any liability issue if they mandate vaccines?  Concerns over people getting sick or reactions to vaccine?
    • A:  If you do have a mandatory vaccine, you must provide the time and preventive time (time for getting the vaccine or if someone has a reaction to the vaccine).  Note:  It does up your liability.
    • Q:  If someone gets more sick, can it be Workman’s Comp?
    • A:  Talk to your carrier about that.
    • Q:  Can it be mandatory before it’s been FDA approved and not just an Emergency Use Authorization?
    • A:  The EEOC has said you can have a mandatory policy even while it is under EUA.
    • Q:  Would the payment for potential employee leave for a preventative time under Healthy Families (whether time to get a vaccine or time to deal with reactions to the vaccine) fall under the Colorado Public Health Emergency Leave or would it fall under the employer’s PTO policy?
    • A:  The Preventive Care language falls under both Healthy Families and the Colorado Public Health Emergency Leave.  There are provisions under both. Look at how your internal policy is structured.

Relevant Links:

Scroll down to Section K.  Provides guidance on if employers mandate, supporting the notion that you can mandate.



OSHA Updates

    • Emergency Temporary Standard – OSHA has paused the button on this discussion but is discussing the standards for masks and vaccinations.  What they do have is the updated guidance from the past year.
    • If OSHA receives complaints from employees that employer isn’t doing anything to protect their workers from COVID, OSHA will look at what the employer IS doing?  
    • OSHA may ask why you are doing this and not this.  They will give the recommended protocols from the New Guidance and NEP

    • The Roles of Employers and Workers in Responding to COVID-19 (from OSHA.gov)
      • Under the OSH Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
      • Implementing a workplace COVID-19 prevention program is the most effective way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at work.

 

  • The most effective COVID-19 prevention programs engage workers and their representatives in the program’s development and implementation at every step, and include these elements.

 

  • Have a plan in place:
  • Document how you are mitigating the risks of COVID.  
  • Ensure there is a standard in place to avoid exposure and what you will do in the case of an outbreak.
  • If there are issues with COVID in the work environment, there is an expectation that the employer is doing something about it.

 

 

  • Rolled out a new National Emphasis Program where they will be conducting inspections on facilities regarding exposure.  The program has been issued for one year. It can be rescinded. 5% of inspections in each region should be related to COVID.
    • Appendix A
    • Appendix B-there are a couple of construction codes on there (CIVIL Engineering).  OSHA will not likely do COVID-focused inspections.  See 236, 237, 238 (available on OSHA website)
  • Another factor that can put a company on the inspection list is increased exposure or outbreak unless it is reported.  Emphasis will be more focused on healthcare or other industries with greater infection rates.
  • Get OSHA Direction on Appendix B (238 likely fits contractors)
    • It would be easier for all employers to have an emergency standard in place.  It is expected by OSHA.
    • Emergency Temporary Standard may still be coming.  
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Silica/Air Quality inspections 

  • National Emphasis Program came out in 2020 but OSHA has not gotten into it much because of the pandemic. 
  •  Expect increase in silica inspections.  Silica NEP will be 2% of all inspections.  It will be a big priority this year.  
  • #1 priority of inspections is trenching. Around 25 people die each year from trenching accidents.  They respond almost immediately to any calls related to trenching.  They will also do drive-by inspections.  If they see it, they will inspect it. 
  • In terms of construction industry, silica, trenching, and excavation are top inspections.  
  • They will also inspect falls/ladder and roadway work zones (traffic controls to protect the public and the workers). 

Material Availability and Pricing 

  • Q:  Are there pricing and/or supply change issues?
  • A:Jay Commuso-IPro – several things happened last year beyond COVID.  All of the raw material manufacturers thought/expected us to go into a recession so they pulled back on production.  This has made it more difficult for the industry distributors to get the materials out to the contractors.  The other challenge that we are faced with is that online shopping has increased and has created a massive number of container shortages for getting materials from overseas to the US.  This is observation, not documented.  Increase in price/cost of all products due to supply/demand. 
  • Stocking up is a really good idea.  If you can get the materials, you may want to grab them while they are available.  It’s a perfect storm right now.  If you wait longer, the prices will only increase.  
  • No idea when this shortage will end.  
  • Make sure you have a really great relationship with your distributors.  
  • Have alternate distributors/suppliers to be sure you have access to other ideas/products that you typically may not use.

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