Michigan companies fined for COVID-19 safety violations
The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations to 19 companies for “serious” safety violations related to COVID-19. Twelve of the companies cited are involved in the construction industry, and those companies’ total fines are $29,900.
MIOSHA issued citations involving failure to maintain social distancing when possible; failure to require face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained; not having a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan; failure to designate a COVID-19 workplace supervisor; not training employees regarding COVID-19; and failure to maintain/retain records of daily health screenings.
MIOSHA cited the companies under the general duty clause, which requires all employers to provide workplaces free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. The companies have 15 days to contest the citations and fines and must prove to MIOSHA the unsafe conditions listed in the citations have been resolved.
General duty clause violations, which in Michigan carry a maximum penalty of $7,000, typically are used when there is not a safety standard specific to the condition being cited, and COVID-19 falls into that category in most states and at the federal level.
New standard could specify design criteria for reusable masks
To address the range of advice provided regarding how to wear face coverings and how well they protect users, the personal protective equipment industry and ASTM International are working on a standard to specify design and performance criteria for reusable masks, according to constructiondive.com.
Since July, the group has worked toward setting requirements for the general construction of masks; how a mask is secured to and stays affixed to a user’s head; how well masks filter out bacterial and solid particulates; inhalation and exhalation breathing resistances; size and fit testing; and affixing and removing masks, sizing, cleaning and recommended period of use.
The group also is working to establish how much of this information should be displayed on mask packaging. The standard would not replace current mask requirements for health care workers or Occupational Safety and Health Administration industry standards.
OSHA confirms N95 respirators protect against COVID-19
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has added information to its FAQ page verifying N95 respirators effectively protect wearers from coronavirus exposure. The page is located at osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/covid-19-faq.html.
OSHA is aware of incorrect claims stating N95 respirator filters do not capture particles as small as the virus that cause the coronavirus. OSHA’s new response explains why N95 respirators are effective at protecting users from the virus.
Additional information and resources are available on OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage at osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19.