OSHA COVID Complaints Jump 581% Since May

Posted on 8/23/2021 by Lauren Scott

OSHA has seen a 581% uptick in coronavirus-related work safety complaints in the last two months, with the majority of complaints stemming from states in the Southeast, according to Agency data.

For the first week of August, OSHA received 109 complaints and referrals, 62 of which originate from OSHA Region 4, which includes Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. This is a 33% increase in complaints overall from the previous week alone.

Complaints are still far below levels seen in 2020, however, when OSHA received 488 complaints and referrals overall, with 125 pertaining to Region 4.

The workplace safety agency has also overseen an increase in inspections, although not quite at pre-COVID levels. OSHA performed 2,452 inspections in June 2021, 47% more than it performed a year ago. This is still 19% below June 2019, when OSHA conducted 2,915 inspections.

OSHA Inspections Under COVID National Emphasis Program

OSHA completed revisions of its National Emphasis Program (NEP) in July 2021 to address safety concerns at healthcare and non-healthcare facilities. The NEP allows OSHA prioritize inspections at potentially high-risk facilities without having to wait for a complaint or referral to do so.

Therefore, efforts under the NEP augment unprogrammed COVID-19 activities, such as complaints, referrals, and severe incident reports.

The NEP provides guidance for programmed COVID-19 inspections at healthcare versus non-healthcare facilities, selecting non-healthcare facilities by industry (meat/poultry processing plants, general warehousing and storage sites, chemical manufacturing, etc.).

COVID-19 Safety Training Required in States Across US

In the absence of a single Federal standard for COVID-19 training, State safety agencies, legislatures, and governors’ offices have released regulations, policies, and guidance that require employers to provide employee training on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and how to prevent workplace exposure.

States with a COVID-19 workplace safety training policies in place include California, Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia, and Minnesota. Learn more about your state’s requirements here.

While each state’s policy is unique, each includes common elements. Employees must have COVID-19 training that prepares them to, at a minimum:  
  • Recognize signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Describe how COVID-19 is transmitted.
  • Follow best hygiene and work protocols to prevent exposure.
  • Properly use and care for PPE and face coverings.
Many of these states issue complete coronavirus workplace safety requirements that employers must adhere to. In fact, Oregon recently revised its COVID-19 regulations to include updated mask provisions.

OSHA’s Top 10 Workplace Safety Violations

Every year, OSHA publicizes a list of the 10 most commonly cited workplace safety violations. OSHA's latest Top 10 list of the most commonly cited workplace health and safety violations.

Although the list of the most commonly cited violations does not change much from year to year, respiratory protection-related violations notably jumped from #5 to #3 in the 2020 Top 10 list due to COVID-19-related inspections by OSHA.

The OSHA Top 10 list doesn’t cover every important workplace hazard, but it does provide an overview of the most common and costly violations for American employers.

COVID-19 Safety Awareness Online Training

To help US workplaces safely resume and continue operations, Lion launched the COVID-19 Employee Safety Awareness Online Course. The course is designed to help satisfy training mandates for employees concerning COVID-19, preparing employees to: 
  • Recognize signs, symptoms, and risk factors for COVID-19.
  • Describe how the COVID-19 disease is transmitted.
  • Follow recommended hygiene and work protocols to prevent exposure.
  • Properly use and care for PPE and face coverings, when required. 
This self-paced online course is updated regularly to reflect evolving information on COVID-19 workplace exposure. As more employees nationwide return to work, it is crucial that they know how to protect themselves and their co-workers from exposure to COVID-19.

Tags: coronavirus, COVID-19, osha, safety, workplace safety

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