The COVID-19 pandemic has brought rules, regulations, and other OSHA guidance that affect companies’ compliance requirements. Because you employ workers in the construction industry, you need to be aware of these updates. They include new rule drafts and national and regional emphasis programs that show OSHA’s current priorities.
Here are some of OSHA’s latest updates and guidelines for 2022.
The Vaccine Mandate
In line with a directive that President Biden issued in October 2021, OSHA issued an emergency temporary standard for employers with over 100 employees. These employees are required either to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to regular testing. OSHA showed interest in making the standard permanent and expanding to include smaller employers. Employers are advised to develop compliance policies along with employment counsel to ensure compliance.
Heat Stress Emphasis Program
On September 21, 2021, OSHA increased its measures to protect workers from hot environments to reduce ambient heat exposure. Because at least 284 workers have died from job-related heat stress in the last 10 years, heat safety has become a priority for the administration. As a result, a national emphasis program is being developed in Texas and contiguous states to prioritize inspections of exposure to heat-related hazards. OSHA also is creating rules to develop workplace heat standards and forming a National Advisory Committee on Heat Injury and Illness Prevention to better identify the challenges that impact worker safety.
Other OSHA National Emphasis Programs
The construction industry also is impacted by the following OSHA programs:
- Properly communicating OSHA Fatality Inspection Procedures to a Victim’s Family, implemented Summer 2021.
- Combustible Dust, an established program designed to abate combustible duty hazards, including explosion prevention and mitigation controls.
- Lead Exposure, an established program to create a system for measuring lead exposure during an inspection.
- Trenching and Excavation with an ongoing emphasis on reducing or eliminating workplace hazards involving these operations.
Regional Emphasis Programs
- Noise hazards in the workplace is a program affecting OSHA’s 7 regions east of the Mississippi River, including the Pacific Northwest.
- Fall hazards are a focal point in almost all federal OSHA regions.
- Cranes in construction are a focal point in the New England, Pacific Northwest, and Texas and contiguous states.
- Demolition is a focal point in the regions from New York south to Virginia and west to Minnesota. Commercial and residential construction following severe weather is a focal point in Nebraska and Kansas.
- Asbestos abatement is a focal point in the Rocky Mountains.
- Heavy highway and bridge construction are a focal point in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
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