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Reporting Accidents to OSHA: Understanding Recordkeeping Requirements   

small accident at construction site

Accidents happen in the workplace, no matter how careful we are. Whether it’s a slip and fall, a minor injury or something more serious, it’s crucial that these incidents are accurately documented and reported to the appropriate authorities.  
 
In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets specific standards for workplace accident reporting and recordkeeping. Failing to comply with these requirements can have serious consequences for both employees and employers. Let’s delve into the importance of recordkeeping, the specifics of OSHA’s requirements and why it matters. 

The Significance of Recordkeeping and OSHA’s Mandate 

Accurate recordkeeping is not just a bureaucratic obligation; it is a fundamental aspect of ensuring workplace safety and employee well-being. OSHA requires employers to maintain records to: 

1. Monitor Workplace Safety: 

Recordkeeping allows employers to track accident trends and identify potential hazards. This data empowers companies to take proactive measures to prevent future incidents, making workplaces safer for everyone. 

2. Identify Training Needs: 

Employee safety training is a critical component of OSHA’s requirements. By keeping records of training programs, employers can assess whether their employees are adequately prepared for their roles and identify areas that may require additional training. 

3. Ensure Medical Care When Needed: 

Proper recordkeeping helps employers identify cases where an injury or illness requires more than just basic first aid. It ensures that employees receive the necessary medical attention promptly. 

4. Prevent Repeated Incidents: 

Through records, employers can spot recurring accidents or near-miss incidents and implement preventive measures to reduce their recurrence. 

OSHA’s Definition of a Recordable Injury or Illness 

To understand the reporting requirements, it’s essential to know how OSHA defines a recordable injury or illness. According to OSHA, a recordable injury or illness includes: 

1. Any workplace-related fatality: This is self-explanatory and should be reported immediately. 

2. Any work-related injury or illness that results in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job: This category encompasses incidents that significantly impact an employee’s ability to perform their duties. 

3. Any work-related injury or illness requiring medical treatment beyond first aid: This extends beyond basic first aid and covers situations where professional medical care is necessary. 

4. Any work-related diagnosed case of cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth and punctured eardrums: These are serious conditions that should be documented. 

OSHA also has special recording criteria for specific work-related cases, such as needle sticks and sharps injuries, medical removal, hearing loss, tuberculosis and more. Employers must carefully review OSHA’s guidelines to ensure they are properly reporting all recordable incidents. 

The Alarming Statistics 

Accidents in the workplace are more common than one might think. In the year 2022, OSHA’s enforcement summary revealed that there were approximately 3.7 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers. Additionally, the OSHA data related to work-related fatalities and injuries offers a sobering perspective. The need for effective accident reporting and recordkeeping becomes evident when we consider these statistics. 

According to OSHA’s enforcement summary for 2022, the reported injuries and illnesses in the workplace covered a wide range of industries. These statistics are not just numbers – they represent real people whose lives were affected by accidents on the job. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that workplaces become safer and more protective environments. 

The Change in Reporting Requirements 

OSHA continuously strives to improve workplace safety standards. In line with this commitment, OSHA recently announced a new rule, effective soon, that will enhance the reporting requirements for employers. This rule seeks to improve the accuracy and transparency of workplace injury and illness data, ensuring that employees’ health and safety are safeguarded to the best extent possible. 

The upcoming final rule from OSHA aims to strengthen the electronic reporting requirement for certain establishments. While the details can be complex, the underlying goal is straightforward – to make workplace injury and illness data more accessible and transparent. This, in turn, will help in identifying workplace hazards and developing effective strategies for injury prevention. 

To learn more about these forthcoming changes, you can refer to OSHA’s official website for details on the upcoming final rule. Staying updated on these changes is essential for employers to maintain compliance and ensure that their workplace remains safe for their employees. 

Ensuring Compliance with OSHA Reporting Requirements

Keeping up with OSHA reporting requirements is not just a legal obligation; it’s an essential aspect of responsible business management. It is every employer’s duty to ensure that they abide by these regulations, not just for the sake of compliance, but also for the well-being of their workforce. Ultimately, OSHA’s stringent standards are in place to ensure workplace incidents are reported, analyzed and acted upon to prevent future occurrences.  

As an employer, it’s absolutely vital to take the necessary steps to both understand and implement OSHA’s reporting requirements. Compliance with these requirements is essential, and failing to do so can lead to severe consequences, such as fines, penalties or legal action. Additionally, neglecting proper reporting can compromise the health and safety of your employees. 

A Path to Compliance with NSC 
National Safety Compliance (NSC) recognizes the importance of OSHA compliance and provides valuable resources to assist employers in meeting these requirements. With over two decades of experience in the safety and compliance industry, NSC offers comprehensive training materials designed to help employers, managers, and supervisors understand and fulfill OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements. 

NSC’s “OSHA Recordkeeping for Managers and Supervisors” DVD offers a thorough and easy-to-understand training program to equip employers and their staff with the knowledge necessary to ensure full OSHA recordkeeping compliance. 
 
Learn more about this invaluable training resource and how it can support your organization here.   

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Equipping New Employees to Embrace Safety

Research shows that more than one-third of workplace injuries occur within the first year of employment. Those injuries account for one-third of workers’ compensation claim costs. “Safety training programs and practices should start before an employee’s first day and continue throughout the employee’s time at an organization,” said Chris Hayes, of Travelers Insurance. Clearly, it is critical that employers have clearly communicated practices and safety training programs in place. New employees must know who to go to with safety questions and concerns. Further, it is imperative that they are empowered to stop work with out fear of reprisal.

5 Ways to Equip All Employees

  1. Integrate Safety into the Hiring Process
  2. Onboard and Continuously Train Employees
  3. Conduct a Job Safety Analysis
  4. Implement an Accident Analysis Program
  5. Continue Supporting Employees Throughout Their Careers

It is vitally important to show new employees that your company takes safety seriously. For example, consider making it part of the performance evaluations for supervisors. “The most common mistake is not including risk and safety/health goals in the performance evaluation process for managers,” Scott Smith, director of safety management at Selective Insurance. “Having risk and safety/health goals for managers that impact their performance evaluation sets expectations and establishes the organization’s safety culture.” Another “significant, commonly observed mistake is management’s failure to intervene when they observe employees failing to follow sound risk management or safety,” he added. 

Additionally, how you manage injuries can significantly impact your business. Employers should be prepared before an injury takes place. Including having a plan that helps injured employees return to work as soon as medically appropriate. For example, a transitional duty program can help employees remain engaged and connected at work during their recovery.

When workers are injured, it might be possible to temporarily assign them to different tasks that are less physically demanding. “There are pros and cons to having an injured employee perform in a light-duty position while recovering,” Smith said. “They can stay engaged in the business during this interim period, which might help with overall absenteeism and maintain positive employee morale, as remaining workers will see the employee returning to work.”

A Transitional Duty Program Can Help in 3 Ways:

  1. Employees to receive prompt, quality medical care.
  2. Keep employees at work, allowing the company to get meaningful, productive work done while the employee recovers.
  3. The employee, employee’s medical provider, employer and insurance professional to work together to help the employee to return to work as soon as possible.

Following an injury on the job, it is important to have a plan for returning employees to work as soon as they are medically able to return.

According to Rich Ives, vice president of business insurance claims at Travelers Insurance, “We stress to our customers the importance of maintaining contact with the injured employee, checking on how they are feeling and setting up a modified duty program as they recover,” he added. “By focusing on what they can do, rather than on their pain or limitations, conversations about their return to work can help an injured employee stay engaged, feel productive and look ahead.” 

At NSC we provide a safety orientation course that is an excellent resource for new hires in any industry. It is designed to foster positive safety attitudes and raise awareness of potential workplace hazards and emergencies. Safety in the workplace starts with having the right attitude about safety and taking the right steps to prevent safety incidents. This training course is designed to make you aware of just a few of the possible hazards which you might encounter at work. It is a quick overview to provide you with some basic understanding of each area and to set you on the right path towards a safe and healthy work day. We also offer safety orientation courses specific to janitorial, construction, foodservice, and healthcare industries.

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New for 2023: Food Safety & Personal Hygiene Training

Providing food safety training helps employees handle food responsibly. Food safety incidents put customer’s health in jeopardy, damages a company’s reputation, and costs your business money. This can threaten the long-term health of a business. National Safety Compliance has just released a new Food Safety & Personal Hygiene Training ProgramThis training is designed to give your staff a clear understanding of proper food handling and personal hygiene techniques to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Topics covered in the course include:

  • Health Codes
  • Your Personal Hygiene
  • The Steps to Handling Food Safely
  • Other Safety Rules When Handling and Preparing Food


Some benefits of proper food safety and personal hygiene training include, cutting down on waste, reducing the risk of food poisoning, employees gaining a better understanding of their job. This understanding will lead to improvements in work habits and practices. Our Food Safety & Personal Hygiene Training Course is versatile. It includes everything you need to train new employees or to use as a refresher course for current employees. The training video and documentation are available in several formats to meet your ever changing training needs.

Included in the training course:

  • 22 Minute Training Video
  • Employee Quiz & Answer Key
  • Training Certificate
  • Wallet Cards
  • Power Point® Presentation and more.

Formats available:

In order to uphold high standards of personal hygiene and cleanliness, businesses must provide adequate food safety training to every employee who handles food. Proper training will ensure that everyone is aware of what they need to do, and how they need to do it. Food safety and personal hygiene training should not be one and done, it needs to be ongoing.

Our course is suitable for:

  • New hire orientation
  • Refresher / annual training
  • Train the Trainer
  • Class sizes from 1-100+

The World Health Organization estimates that illness from unsafe food causes 420,000 deaths per year. Safe food handling saves lives. Additional benefits of following proper food safety protocols include reduced economic loss, increased uptake of nutritious foods, and reduced environmental impact from food loss and waste. At NSC we offer affordable, reliable food safety & personal hygiene training.

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Renewed Focus on Enforcement

In recent years, the Department of Labor, DOL for short, has renewed its commitment to enforce labor laws, promoting the safety and health of American workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA for short, was created in 1970 to ensure safe and healthy conditions for all workers. It is OSHA’s responsibility to set and enforce safety standards that employers must comply with in order to provide employees with the safest workplace possible. Just last month, OSHA issued two memorandums indicating that they are stepping up their focus on the enforcement of labor laws. In Fact, both memorandums were issued by OSHA’s Directorate for Enforcement Programs. 

According to the DOL, OSHA “has issued new enforcement guidance to make its penalties more effective in stopping employers from repeatedly exposing workers to life-threatening hazards or failing to comply with certain workplace safety and health requirements.”

The first memorandum, Application of Instance-by-Instance Penalty Adjustment, gives OSHA Regional Administrators and Area Office Directors the authority to cite certain types of violations as “instance-by-instance citations.” This includes cases where the agency identifies “high-gravity” serious violations of OSHA standards specific to certain conditions. Specifically when the language of the rule supports a citation for each instance of non-compliance. The purpose of this change is to encourage OSHA personnel to apply the full authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Act where increased citations will in fact discourage non-compliance. 

Conditions Where Instance-by-Instance Citations May Apply:

The second memorandum, Exercising Discretion When Not to Group Violations, states that it is “intended to reiterate existing policy that allows Regional Administrators and Area Directors discretion to not group violations in appropriate cases to achieve a deterrent effect.” Instead they should cite them separately, with the goal of effectively encouraging employers to comply with the the OSH Act.

This updated guidance covers enforcement activity in general industry, agriculture, maritime and construction industries, and becomes effective 60 days from Jan. 26, 2023. Since the current policy has been in place for more than 30 years and applies only to egregious willful citations, these aggressive changes make it clear that OSHA is focused on deterring employers from ignoring their responsibilities to keep workers safe.

Doug Parker, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health explained the changes this way, “Smart, impactful enforcement means using all the tools available to us when an employer ‘doesn’t get it’ and will respond to only additional deterrence in the form of increased citations and penalties. This is intended to be a targeted strategy for those employers who repeatedly choose to put profits before their employees’ safety, health and wellbeing. Employers who callously view injured or sickened workers simply as a cost of doing business will face more serious consequences.”

OSHA has delivered remarkable progress in improving the safety of America’s work force. Workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities have fallen dramatically over the years. OSHA has tackled fatal safety hazards and health risks by establishing common sense standards and enforcing the law against those who put workers at risk. OSHA standards and enforcement actions have saved thousands of lives and prevented countless injuries and illnesses. Looking to the future, OSHA is renewing its commitment to protecting workers by promoting best practices that can save lives.

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OSHA Regulation Books: Updated for 2023

OSHA’s general duty clause states, “Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees; shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act. Furthermore, each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.” With this in mind, keeping up with all OSHA standards, rules, regulations, and orders can be a daunting task for both employers and employees. Two helpful resources to ensure workplaces are informed and in compliance are our OSHA 29 Regulation books.

Our published OSHA 29 CFR 1910 General Industry Regulations  and CFR 1926 Construction Regulations books provide quick and easy access to critical safety guidance at all times. Clearly, this important reference will help employers and employees both quickly identify potential safety concerns and hazards on any job. In order to best serve the needs of everyone, we provide the updated books in two types of binding and in electronic formats. With accessibility in mind, perfect bound book includes 2-color tab end of the book displaying both regulation title and number. Additionally, our premium version of the book is ideal for those that take notes and highlight on their regulations. It’s bound in a loose-leaf, 3-ring, 2″ binder with tabs and it allows for easy navigation to the regulations you use most. These updated books contain all changes to the standards through January 1, 2023.

Features of 29 CFR 1910 and 1926 Industry Regulation Books: 

  • Record of recent edits and changes
  • Most frequently cited standards
  • Additional relevant parts of Title 29 
  • OSHA General Duty Clause
  • Two-color layout makes navigating and reading regulations easier
  • Includes all 1910 regulations
  • 1903 regulations covering inspections, citations and penalties,
  • 1904 regulations covering record keeping and reporting occupational injuries and illness
  • Easy-to-find regulations changes for the period between book releases
  • Easy-to-find OSHA interpretations icon shows which page and which regulations have interpretations to reference
  • Contains OSHA Form 300 and OSHA’s Cancer Policy
  • Most Frequently Cited Standards preceding relevant Subparts

Workplace compliance is challenging. For this reason, National Safety Compliance is working hard to help employers and employees meet this requirement and stay safe at work. Staying on top of compliance begins with being aware of all the safety standards that apply to your workplace. Which is why NSC has compiled our 1910 and 1926 regulation books. Given that there is so much information to keep track of, having OSHA regulations accessible and aesthetically pleasing benefits everyone.

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2023 Penalty Increase for all OSHA Violations

Penalty Increase for 2023 Announced

In addition to OSHA’s heightened focus on enforcement, the U.S. Department of Labor recently announced changes to Occupational Safety and Health Administration civil penalty amounts based on cost-of-living adjustments for 2023. Since 2015, agencies have been required to adjust penalties and make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation. The purpose of increased penalties is to improve the effectiveness and to maintain their deterrent effect.

This year, OSHA’s maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations will increase from $14,502 per violation to $15,625 per violation. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $145,027 per violation to $156,259 per violation. These increases, in addition to OSHA’s enhanced focus on enforcement, remind employers how critical it is to pay attention to their responsibility to provide a safe workplace for all employees. The ability to cite each individual violation separately could mean significantly higher costs for non compliance.

The best way to avoid workplace safety violations is an ongoing dedication to education and training. Both employers and employees must be aware of all the safety concerns at their workplace and be prepared to address those safety issues. Is your safety education program equipping your workers to keep themselves safe at work? It is helpful to be aware of common workplace hazards as well as the unique hazards specific to your own work environment. Are you aware of the top cited OSHA violations and how to address those?

OSHA’s Top 10 Cited Violations for 2021 & 2022

20222021
 1. Fall ProtectionFall Protection
 2. Hazard CommunicationRespiratory Protection
 3. Respiratory ProtectionLadders
 4. LaddersHazard Communication
 5. ScaffoldingScaffolding
 6. Lockout/TagoutFall Protection Training
 7. Powered Industrial TrucksControl of Hazardous Energy
 8. Fall Protection TrainingEye and Face Protection
 9. Personal Protective and Lifesaving EquipmentPowered Industrial Trucks
10. Machine GuardingMachinery and Machine Guarding

At NSC, our mission is to provide the tools and information businesses need to create safe, efficient and compliant workplaces. Check out all the resources available on our website.

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Workplace Safety During the Holidays

Holiday workers

The busy holiday season brings with it many challenges for keeping employees safe. Extra hours, increased demand, and potentially, even seasonal employees can all increase safety concerns. It is vital for employers to be vigilant in training employees about hazards in the workplace and safety protocols this time of year.

The importance of safe and healthy workplaces never takes a break. Keeping this in mind will help employers stay focused on one of the most vital responsibilities they have, which is providing a safe work environment for all employees.

The holiday season can also bring added stress to the workplace. Employers should be providing employees with tools to manage stress. While there are many things in life that induce stress, unfortunately, work can be one of those factors. However, workplaces can also be key places for resources, solutions, and activities designed to improve well-being.

At National Safety Compliance we offer the tools and information businesses need to create safe, efficient, and compliant workplaces. OSHA’s website also offers a variety of resources to assist employers in helping and informing their employees of ways to stay safe at work.

Helpful OSHA Resources:

Holiday Safety Topics:

  • Crowd Management
  • Ergonomics
  • Forklift Safety 
  • Safe Driving
  • Temporary/Seasonal Workers
  • Winter Weather Hazards/Precautions
  • Warehousing Safety
  • Workplace Stress
  • Young Workers

Sometimes seasonal employees are young workers and also temporary workers. Host employers must treat temporary workers as they treat existing workers. It is especially important to include adequate training for young temporary workers. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee and are therefore jointly responsible for the employee’s safety and health.

Often temporary or seasonal workers are workers supplied to a host employer and usually paid by a staffing agency, whether or not the job is actually temporary. All workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace, whether temporary or permanent. Actually, the staffing agency and the host employer are temporary workers’ joint employers; therefore, both are responsible for providing and maintaining a safe work environment for those workers.

The staffing agency and the host employer must work together to ensure that all OSHA requirements are fully met. OSHA recommends that the temporary staffing agency and the host employer set out their respective responsibilities for compliance with applicable OSHA standards in their contract. This is to ensure that there is a clear understanding of each employer’s role in protecting employees. In order to clarify the employer’s obligations, including such terms in a contract will help avoid confusion as well as ensure that each employer complies with all relevant regulatory requirements.

All year long, employers must ensure that every worker is properly trained. Employees must be equipped to recognize and prevent job hazards and implement safe work practices. The busy holiday season is no exception, safety is too important to neglect.

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Severe Violator Enforcement Program

Last week the US Department of Labor announced an update to OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Since 2010, the Severe Violator Enforcement Program has focused resources on enforcement and inspection of employers who either willfully or repeatedly violate federal health and safety laws. Or further, employers that demonstrate a refusal to correct previous violations. In addition to being included on a public list of the nation’s severe violators, employers are subject to follow-up inspections.

“The Severe Violator Enforcement Program empowers OSHA to sharpen its focus on employers who – even after receiving citations for exposing workers to hazardous conditions and serious dangers – fail to mitigate these hazards,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker.

The changes will broaden the program’s scope with the reality that additional industries will fall within its parameters. Previously, an employer could be in the program for failing to meet a limited number of standards. The new criteria include violations of all hazards and OSHA standards. It will continue to focus on repeat offenders in all industries.

The updated Severe Violator Enforcement Program criteria include the following:

  • The expanded program criteria now include all hazards and OSHA standards.
  • Program placement for employers with citations for at least two willful or repeated violations.
  • Employers that receive failure-to-abate notices based on the presence of high-gravity serious violations.
  • Follow-up or referral inspections are made one year – but not longer than two years – after the final order.
  • Potential removal from the Severe Violator Enforcement Program three years after the date of receiving verification that the employer has abated all program-related hazards.
  • Employers’ ability to reduce time spent in the program to two years by consenting to an enhanced settlement agreement that includes the use of a safety and health management system that includes seven basic elements.

If an employer agrees to an Enhanced Settlement Agreement they may elect to reduce the SVEP term to two years. In such cases, SVEP removal is contingent on the employer agreeing to develop and implement a safety and health management system. This must be completed within two years. It must include effective policies, procedures, and practices. These should recognize occupational safety and health hazards. As well as protect employees from those hazards. The employer’s SHMS must include at least the seven basic elements outlined. Lastly, the implementation must be verified by an independent third party subject to the approval of OSHA.

Seven Basic Elements in OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs:

  • Management Leadership
  • Worker Participation
  • Hazard Identification & Assessment
  • Hazard Prevention & Control
  • Education & Training
  • Program Evaluation & Improvement
  • Communication & Coordination for Host Employers, Contractors, and Staffing Agencies

Parker further stated, “It is the goal of this administration to maximize all tools available to us to ensure employers comply with their legal obligation to provide safe and healthful workplaces. These changes to SVEP will hold a microscope to those employers who continue to expose workers to very serious dangers and help ensure America’s workers come home safe at the end of every shift.” National Safety Compliance offers many training products to help businesses stay OSHA compliant and avoid ever being included in the severe violator program.

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Personal Protective Equipment: Essential for Workers’ Safety

Recently, the term Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has become fairly common and many Americans immediately think of facemasks and possibly gloves when they hear it. However, PPE has been around the safety industry much longer than our recent challenges. Furthermore, PPE includes much more than a facemask and is a vital component to keep workers safe in many work environments. Hazards exist in every workplace in many different forms. OSHA requires that employers protect their employees from workplace hazards that can cause injury. Controlling a hazard at its source is the best way to protect employees. However, when mitigating workplace hazards does not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide PPE to their employees and ensure its use.

The Requirement for PPE

Specific requirements for Personal Protective Equipment are presented in many different OSHA standards, published in 29 CFR. Some standards require that employers provide PPE at no cost to the employee while others simply state that the employer must provide PPE. In order to ensure the greatest possible protection for employees, employers and employees must cooperate in establishing and maintaining a safe and healthful work environment.

Employers are responsible for:

  • Performing a “hazard assessment” of the workplace to identify and control physical and health hazards.
  • Identifying and providing appropriate PPE for employees.
  • Training employees in the use and care of PPE.
  • Maintaining PPE, including replacing worn or damaged PPE.
  • Periodically reviewing, updating, and evaluating the effectiveness of the PPE program.

Employees should:

  • Properly wear PPE.
  • Attend training sessions on PPE.
  • Care for, clean, and maintain PPE.
  • Inform a supervisor of the need to repair or replace PPE.

Some Types of required Personal Protection Equipment:

  • Eye and Face Protection: safety spectacles, goggles, welding shields, laser safety goggles, & face shields
  • Head Protection: hard hats (Types A, B, & C)
  • Foot and Leg Protection: leggings (with safety snaps), metatarsal guards, toe guards, combination foot and shin guards, & safety shoes
  • Hand and Arm Protection: protective gloves, leather, canvas or metal mesh gloves, fabric and coated fabric gloves, chemical- and liquid-resistant gloves,
  • Body Protection: laboratory coats, coveralls, vests, jackets, aprons, surgical gowns, and full-body suits.
  • Hearing Protection: single-use earplugs, pre-formed or molded earplugs, earmuffs

PPE can help save lives. It can only do this if it is worn. Further, it must be worn properly and worn throughout the job. All PPE clothing and equipment should be of safe design and construction. Employers should take the fit and comfort of PPE into consideration. Selecting appropriate items for each workplace is essential. PPE that fits well and is comfortable to wear will encourage employee use. Most protective devices are available in multiple sizes and care should be taken to select the proper size for each employee. If several different types of PPE are worn together, they must be compatible. If PPE does not fit properly, it may not provide the level of protection desired. This can discourage employee use. Tragically, it also can make the difference between being safely covered or dangerously exposed.

Training Employees in the Proper Use of PPE

The best way to ensure compliance with the Personal Protective Equipment policy is to train workers. Employers should make sure that each employee demonstrates an understanding of the training as well as the ability to properly wear and use PPE before they are allowed to perform work requiring the use of the PPE. They must know the risks posed by the job, and how PPE can protect them from these risks. Training in the proper use, care, and storage of PPE are equally necessary. Furthermore, the employer must document the training of each employee required to wear or use PPE. This documentation must include a certification containing the name of each employee trained, the date of training, and clear identification of the subject of the certification.

In addition to proper equipment and training, knowing how to inspect PPE to determine when the equipment should be removed from service is vital. A visual inspection is not always enough. When it comes to PPE the rule is: when in doubt; throw it out. It pays to err on the side of caution. It might be time to purchase new PPE.

Appropriate PPE is important in protecting workers it plays a pivotal role in keeping workers safe.

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Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace Part 1

What Employees Should Know About COVID-19 Protections in the Workplace

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads mostly among unvaccinated people who are in close proximity to each other. The virus spreads particularly indoors and especially in poorly ventilated areas.

Vaccination is an essential element in a multifaceted approach to protect workers. If your employer offers opportunities to take time off in order to get vaccinated, take advantage of the time offered. Vaccines authorized by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are effective at protecting those vaccinated against symptomatic and severe cases of COVID-19 and death. A growing body of evidence suggests that those fully vaccinated are less likely to have symptomatic infection or transmit the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Many employers have created COVID-19 prevention programs that include precautions to keep unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk employees safe. Created prevention programs might include:

  • Telework
  • Flexible schedules
  • Engineering controls (especially ventilation)
  • Administration policies (e.g. vaccination policies)
  • PPE
  • Face coverings
  • Physical distancing
  • Enhanced cleaning programs, focusing on high-touch surfaces

The recommended precautions and policies of your workplace should be followed. These multi-layered controls are specific to your workplace and are particularly important to unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk employees.

In addition to these guidelines, the CDC now recommends those that are fully vaccinated wear a mask in public indoor settings where there is a potential of substantial or high transmission. Still, those fully vaccinated might choose to mask, regardless the level of transmission. This choice might depend on if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at an increased risk of severe disease, or if others in their household are unvaccinated.

Ask your employer about prevention policies and plans for your workplace. Additionally, employees with disabilities who are at risk may request reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

If your employer does not have a COVID-19 prevention plan and you are unvaccinated or otherwise at risk, you can help protect yourself and others by following the steps below:

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can. Check with your employer about paid leave opportunities, if necessary, to get vaccinated and for recovery time from any side effects.
  • Wear a face covering. When properly worn, face coverings are simple barriers worn over the mouth, nose, and chin. These coverings help prevent your respiratory droplets or large particles from reaching others. Higher quality masks are encouraged, as they provide a greater measure of protection. When working outdoors, you may opt to not wear a face covering; however, should you choose to, your employer should support you in safely wearing a face covering continuously, especially if you work closely with others.
  • Social Distance. Unless fully vaccinated or not otherwise at-risk, stay far enough away from others that you are not breathing in respiratory particles produced by them. This distance is generally 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths). Please note that this is not a guarantee that you will avoid infection, especially if you are in enclosed or poorly ventilated areas.
  • Take advantage of telework or flexible schedule policies, if offered by your employer.
  • Perform work tasks, hold meetings, and take breaks outdoors when possible.
  • Participate in any training offered by your employer to learn how rooms in your workplace are ventilated effectively, if offered. Encourage your employer to provide such training if it does not already exist. If you see any vents that are clogged, dirty, or blocked by furniture or equipment, notify your building manager.
  • Practice good personal hygiene and wash your hands often. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Do not spit. Monitor your health daily and check for COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.)
  • Get tested regularly, especially if you live in areas of substantial or high community transmission.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing you from getting COVID-19. If you are not yet fully vaccinated or otherwise at-risk, these multi-layered controls provide optimum protections that prevent exposure and infection.