Maryland Occupational Safety Agency Accused of COVID-19 Missteps
In a Complaint About State Program Administration (CASPA) letter sent to US OSHA on October 16, Public Justice explains that MOSH received 492 coronavirus-related workplace safety complaints since March 1, 2020, but that the Agency only conducted an on-site inspection in 30 of these cases. The letter further explains that MOSH forwarded over 150 complaints to county health departments, rather than investigating the complaints itself.
Earlier this year, a coalition of non-profits and public interest groups petitioned Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to create an emergency temporary standard to address COVID-19 workplace safety concerns. In the most recent letter, dated August 11, 2020, the coalition cited coronavirus workplace safety standards enacted in Virginia and Oregon that guide the safe reopening of businesses in those states.
The Governor’s office and State OSHA representatives have yet to respond to the letter. Neither office has commented on whether or not the state would create its own emergency temporary standard.
Maryland is one of over 20 states that runs its own occupational safety agency, rather than relying on OSHA directly. States may do this as long as their program is as effective as OSHA at protecting workers.
Federal COVID-19 Enforcement ActionsAs of October 29, OSHA issued 112 citations to 85 businesses for workplace safety violations related to COVID-19. As of yesterday, OSHA received 10,115 complaints, and State occupational safety agencies collectively received 32,289 coronavirus-related complaints. These numbers underscore the importance for employers to carefully follow CDC and OSHA recommendations as well as any State safety guidance that may be issued.
In Federal enforcement cases, OSHA inspectors cite four key 29 CFR Standards that play an outsized role in controlling the spread of COVID-19 at work: respiratory protection, bloodborne pathogens, general PPE requirements, and injury/illness reporting and recordkeeping.
COVID-19 Safety Awareness Online TrainingLion just launched the COVID-19 Employee Safety Awareness Online Course to help US workplaces re-open safely. As facilities nationwide begin to re-open, it is crucial that employees know how to protect themselves and their co-workers from exposure to COVID-19.
The course prepares 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.
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