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OSHA-Compliant Forklift Safety Training Standards

Powered industrial trucks, commonly known as forklifts, are used in a variety of industries. From manufacturing plants to warehouses to construction sites, forklifts are critical pieces of workplace equipment used to raise, lower, and move materials. With their presence being so commonplace it is no surprise how many employers are interested in understanding and providing compliant, effective training for their employees. 

Forklift safety training is not only essential for a safe working environment but required under the most recent OSHA regulations. Forklifts are an exceptional tool for efficiency, but they can also be dangerous, damaging, or even deadly. According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 600 workers perished in forklift accidents from 2011 to 2017, and a further 7,000 suffered injuries that required time away from work.  

To start on the path towards developing forklift safety training for your team, you must first understand the OSHA regulations and how to put these rules into action.

Most Recent OSHA Regulations for Forklift Operators

The most recent OSHA regulations for forklift operators were officially published on December 1, 1998. In response to a rise in workplace safety concerns, the new standard was designed to lower workplace injuries and fatalities through quality operator training. 

These new regulations went into effect on March 1, 1999 and apply to all industries except for agriculture.

The new regulations are as follows:

  • Operator performance must be evaluated before operating an industrial truck, except for when in training
  • The employer can designate any employee who is qualified as a Trainer or Evaluator. There are no special requirements for training.
  • OSHA does not certify, accredit, or approve any trainers or training programs for powered industrial trucks. The responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the OSHA standard rests with the employer.

In summary: All employers with forklifts or powered industrial trucks outside of agricultural settings must provide OSHA-compliant training for their operators, evaluate operator performance before allowing them to operate the vehicle, and can designate any qualified employee to act as a trainer or evaluator.

Forklift Driver Safety Training

Training Requirements Under OSHA Regulations

Under the guidance of OSHA regulations, ensuring that your forklift operators are properly trained is ultimately the responsibility of the employer. This task can be outsourced to outside consultants or pre-developed courses for the classroom portion can be utilized. However, the training provided must adequately prepare your employees for not only general forklift operation, but the unique challenges present in your specific workplace.

Forklift Training Format

Training programs must consist of a combination of formal or classroom-type instruction, using tools such as:

  • Lecture formats
  • Video formats
  • Class discussions and games or activities
  • Written materials, worksheets, or training booklets
  • Online interactive training

Training must also include a practical, hands-on approach, such as:

  • Demonstrations performed by the trainer
  • Practical exercises performed, with supervision, by the trainees
  • Evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace

Trainees participating in hands-on activities can only operate the vehicle as long as it does not endanger them or other employees. This means during the practical portion of training, a safe location should be secured and designated as such to minimize the presence of others in the area. The trainee must also remain supervised at all times during operation until they are certified.

Training Content

The content of the training program must consist of several topics, such as location-specific hazards and truck-specific topics. If operators are going to use different types of forklifts, they must be trained on each vehicle class or type.

Workplace-specific training

Your training plan must include hands-on and written instruction about the vehicles or workplace hazards specific to your place of business.  If your business has multiple locations in which the operators will be using forklifts, they must be trained on the hazards that are unique to each of the locations.

Topics for this portion of the training must include:

  • Surface conditions where the vehicle will be operated
  • Composition of loads to be carried and load stability
  • Load manipulation, stacking, and unstacking
  • Pedestrian traffic in areas where the vehicle will be operated
  • Narrow aisles and other restricted places where the vehicle will be operated
  • Hazardous (classified) locations where the vehicle will be operated
  • Ramps and other sloped surfaces that could affect the vehicle’s stability
  • Closed environments and other areas where insufficient ventilation or poor vehicle maintenance could cause a buildup of carbon monoxide or diesel exhaust
  • Other unique or potentially hazardous environmental conditions in the workplace that could affect safe operation.

Truck-related topics

Training must go beyond the basic operation of the industrial powered truck and include comprehensive information about the vehicle’s controls, capacity, maintenance, and precautions.

Topics for this portion must include:

  • How to read and understand the forklift’s required name plate / data plate and find vital information such as  fuel type and capacity
  • Operating instructions, warnings, and precautions for the types of truck the operator will be authorized to operate
  • Differences between the truck and an automobile
  • Truck controls and instrumentation: where they are located, what they do, and how they work
  • Engine or motor operation
  • Steering and maneuvering
  • Visibility (including restrictions due to loading)
  • Fork and attachment adaptation, operation, and use limitations
  • Vehicle stability
  • Any vehicle inspection and maintenance that the operator will be required to perform
  • Refueling and/or charging and recharging of batteries
  • Operating limitations
  • Any other operating instructions, warnings, or precautions listed in the operator’s manual for the types of vehicle that the employee is being trained to operate

Vehicle class-specific training

There are many types of forklifts used. If your business owns multiple types, operators do not need to be trained on each make and model. But, operators must receive truck-specific training on those types they will be expected to operate. Operators trained to use a sit-down type fork truck cannot operate a stand-up truck unless they have been trained to operate it. 

The vehicle classes for powered industrial trucks are as follows:

Class I: Electric motor rider truck
These general use vehicles are most often found indoors, though varieties with pneumatic tires are sometimes used outdoors in dry conditions. These vehicles are versatile and protect air quality by running on battery instead of gasoline, natural gas, or diesel fuel.

Class II: Electric motor narrow aisle trucks
These narrow vehicles are designed to operate in small spaces efficiently. Narrow forklifts allow for their companies to pack in shelving or aisles close together to maximize storage area.

Class III: Electric motor hand trucks or hand rider trucks
These small vehicles battery-powered vehicles are driven by an operator in front of the truck. Steering and controls are contained in the tiller.

Class IV: Internal combustion engine trucks with solid, cushion tires
These forklifts are often seen couriering pallets from the loading dock to indoor storage. They feature a low clearance thanks to their smaller profile tires and can be used indoors or outdoors on smooth surfaces.

Class V: Internal combustion engine trucks with pneumatic tires
These trucks feature an internal combustion engine that is powered by compressed, diesel or LP gas. They are versatile and seen in all kinds of warehouses, from large to small.

Class VI: Electric and internal combustion engine tractors
These electric and combustion-powered tractors are known for their pulling power and are commonly seen on the airport tarmac hauling luggage.

Class VII: Rough terrain forklift trucks
Popular in construction, these large forklifts are designed for heavy outdoor use at a job site to lift and transport large loads of lumber or building materials.

Vehicle Inspection Training

According to OSHA guidelines, forklifts need to be inspected either daily or at the end of every shift if they’re used continuously. Before any driver begins work for the day, they must perform both a walkaround inspection and a seated inspection. In order for employees to properly perform this inspection, they must be formally trained on hazards and where to look for them.

Walkaround inspection

The walkaround inspection involves checking major areas of the vehicle, such as the tires, hoses & belts, fluids, forks, engine, and data plate for safety and good condition.

Seated inspection

The seated inspection is performed while the driver is in their seat. They must check that the controls, safety equipment, horn, brake, steering, seatbelt, and gauges are all in safe, operating condition.

Training the Trainers

OSHA’s regulation CFR 1910.178 (l) Operator Training spells out clearly what you need to do to correctly train employees to use forklifts. 

While OSHA does not require special training or certification for forklift trainers or evaluators, they must be qualified for the task. Ensure that your operator training is conducted by someone who has the knowledge and experience to educate powered industrial truck operators and evaluate their competence. 

In some cases, this may mean you will want to hire an outside training consultant. In many instances, however, this is not necessary. While outside trainers are certain to have the skill and expertise to train your employees, this does not mean you must hire an outside training consultant or company. Depending upon your circumstances it may be better if you do, but it is not required by OSHA. You simply must ensure that the person conducting the training “has the knowledge, training, and experience to train.” 

Timing of forklift training

New operators

Operators with no certification must complete the full training program before operating a forklift. Until they are certified, they can only operate the vehicle under direct supervision while participating in the training.

New employees

Experienced operators who are new to your company and bring with them an outside certification are not necessarily required to go through the full training course. Instead, if you have reason to believe their training is sufficient, you can simply evaluate their skills and train them on only workplace-specific tasks, hazards, and vehicles.

Deficient operators

Deficient operators must go through refresher training when the following occurs:

  • The operator has been observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner
  • The operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident
  • The operator has received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating the truck safely
  • The operator is assigned to drive a different type of truck
  • A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect the safe operation of the truck. 

To ensure that the workplace incident was not because of faulty guidance, an evaluation of the entire training program must be performed when refresher training is required.

Seasoned operators 

Current OSHA regulations require an evaluation of each forklift operator’s performance at least once every three years. If the operator continues to perform safely and within the guidelines set by your training, no further classwork is required at that time.

Temporary employees

Employees that join your company through a contractor or temporary agency must still be certified to operate a forklift. Since temporary agencies are the employer of your temporary employee, not the host organization, it is the responsibility of the agency or contractor to provide training to the required standard or there must be an agreed-upon plan for providing training between your business and the agency.

If the agency is the one to provide training, your business must still train temporary employees on workplace-specific vehicles and hazards.

Minors

Under no circumstances is a minor allowed to operate a forklift. This is a violation of federal law. All operators must be over the age of 18 before beginning training.

Certification document requirements

OSHA also requires that you certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated. Many folks misunderstand this and think that training must be OSHA-certified. OSHA does not certify your training. This simply means you must document that training was provided and that the training met the requirements laid out in section (l) of the CFR 1910.178. To certify the training, you must document:

  • The name of the operator
  • The date of the training
  • The date of the evaluation
  • The identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluating the training.

Employer training records

Records of training, performance, and certifications should be kept for at least the duration of employment.

Forklift training under OSHA guidance is one step towards creating a safer workplace for all employees. With some knowledge of OSHA’s requirements, thoughtful classroom planning, and seasoned workers with the skills to train, you will find this process is mostly straightforward. By the end of the training, you should be confident that your operators understand the training they have received and can safely operate the vehicle and have thorough documentation of the training provided.

For our Forklift Safety Training Kits on DVD, USB, or Digital Access visit: https://www.osha-safety-training.net/product-category/topic/subject-forklift-safety/

For our Forklift Safety Training via online LMS visit: https://www.onlineoshatraining.net/product/forklift-safety-training-general-industry/

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Recommended Fire Safety Training Procedures for Employers in 2020

Since elementary school, the concept of stop, drop, and roll has been drilled into the young minds of children. Unfortunately, this is often where fire safety training and education ends. In order to properly respond to a fire, it is vital to further expand on this education, especially in the workplace.  

Many employers feel as though fire safety and training is not something they need to be concerned with. It is easy to fall under the impression that you and your employees will never be impacted by a fire, but fires are a lot more commonplace than many assume.  

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that the fire department responds to a fire every 24 seconds, a fire-related injury occurs every 35 minutes, and a fatality every 144 minutes in the United States. As a result of these frequent fires, the U.S. Fire Administration estimated losses of $26.5 billion in 2018.  

This is time, money, and lives that are carelessly lost and, in most cases, could have been otherwise prevented with proper training on fire safety. Simply hanging an evacuation plan in the breakroom is not enough training to ensure the wellbeing of your employees. When an actual fire occurs, panic sets in, and reasonable action is often forgotten.  

This onset of panic is due to a lack of training on the process of evacuation. The only way to prevent the injuries and fatalities caused by this is with proper training. The most powerful defense an employer can take against potential threats of fire is empowering their employees by preparing them with fire safety training and response. 

Fire safety experts believe that training, knowledge, and practical experience can be the difference between a few small flames and an uncontrolled blaze. This is why at National Safety Compliance, we offer several different ways to train your employees on fire safety, including turn-key online training modules here on Online OSHA Training, as well as more traditional employer-led training programs available on DVD, USB, or Digital Access on OSHA-Safety-Training.net

Guidelines for Workplace Fire Safety Training  

Employer Fire Safety Responsibilities:  

  • Emergency Preparedness Plan: All employers should have a emergency preparedness plan in place in the event of a fire to outline all actions that employees should take. Plans should include response duties, coordination with fire departments, resources for the disabled, evacuation, emergency communication, and first aid provisions.  
  • Equipment: Must have the proper equipment and maintain it with proper inspections to ensure that they are working properly.  
  • Training: In order for employees to know how to work fire equipment like extinguishers and fire suppression systems it is important for them to have training on the proper operation of the equipment.  This fire safety training should be provided by the employer.

Employee Fire Safety Responsibilities:  

  • Keep informed on safety procedures: Employees must pay attention to all safety procedures and details laid out in the Emergency Preparedness Plan. They have the responsibility to retain the information, participate, and confidently use the equipment. Signs and posters can help employees remember fire safety information.
  • Participate in drills: It is vital to take any drills in your office building seriously regardless of whether or not they are an inconvenience, because they are designed to ensure you are fully prepared for an emergency. 
  • Understand your fight or flight options: In the event of an actual fire it is important to decide to either fight the fire if you are trained and confident in your ability to use an extinguisher or immediately exit the building and trigger the alarm if that is not already done. There is no time for indecision so this is important to consider beforehand.

Roles of Fire Safety Professionals:  

It is important to be mindful of comparing your roles to those of professionals, especially in the event of an actual fire. Some jobs are important to leave to the professionals who are trained on how to handle particular situations and fire safety in a specific manner. These responsibilities include;  

  • Fire officers: Respond to emergency cases and provide immediate assistance.  
  • Fire warden: Clear the building of all people and ensure that no one is stuck inside by carrying out a thorough check and call. 
  • Fire marshals: Identify fire hazards at their workplace by keeping station equipment in great condition and updating records for incoming service calls. 
  • Fire inspectors: Work to prevent fires by providing regular inspections and helping employers to follow policies and report any needed changes, unsafe activities, or poor conditions. 

Your employees can become a fire warden or marshal for your own office or building by going through fire marshal training and receiving their fire marshal certificate. These certificates last for 3 years and give you the ability to delegate responsibilities so you can effectively manage and prevent fires in the workplace.  

Even though these responsibilities vary between employer, employees, and professionals, the person responsible for fire safety is still always the employer. They must communicate with staff to implement and maintain relevant fire safety procedures, prepare for an emergency, and supply fire safety information.  

Types of Fires and Ways to Stop Them

To the untrained eye, fire is simply fire, but in reality, fire is actually broken down into different classifications. Knowing the differences between these fires is essential to fully understanding how to put them out.  

Class A:  

This type of fire sparks from wood, paper, trash, and other materials known as common fuel sources. These should be extinguished with water by streaming a continuous supply onto the source of the fire.  

Class B:  

These ignite due to explosions of flammable liquids or gasses. To extinguish these, simply deplete the oxygen supply by smothering the flames. Never attempt to put out a fire fueled by flammable liquids with water because it splatters and spreads the flames to give the fire strength instead of taking it away.  

Class C:  

These are known as electrical fires that erupt due to components like appliances and motors and are often seen in industries with lots of electrical power equipment. To extinguish these fires, cut the power and use non-conductive chemicals like carbon dioxide.  

Class D:  

This type of fire ignites combustible metals. Laboratories are often environments where these occur. Class D fires should be extinguished with dry powder agents like graphite powder or powdered copper. Similar to a Class B fire, you should never use water to attempt to extinguish it as water burns when it comes in contact with specific metals.  

Class K:  

These are cooking fires that are often seen in commercial buildings, restaurants, or company break rooms caused by ovens, stovetops, or appliances like microwaves. These should be put out with a fire extinguisher. 

To further understand fire, it is important some of the main causes. These include but are not limited to;  

  • Heating  
  • Electrical equipment  
  • Candles  
  • Smoking  
  • Cooking equipment  
  • Faulty wiring  
  • Flammable liquids  
  • Lighting  

These hazards of fires are used a lot in our everyday lives, making it seem like threats of fire are inevitable. Eliminating fire hazards doesn’t mean you have to throw out all your candles and never use another electrical unit, you simply have to follow safer guidelines while using them.  

  • If an electrical cord, unit or device becomes warm or overloaded disconnect any appliances attached  
  • Keep your work environment clean and ensure aisles, exits and self-closing doors are easily accessible  
  • Limit and enforce areas where smoking is allowed  
  • Avoid using space heaters for too long of a time period, as heating equipment is the second leading cause of fire deaths  
  • Keep candles one foot away from anything that can burn and never leave them unattended  
  • Do not leave any cooking equipment, even something as simple as a microwave, unattended and keep anything flammable such as dish towels or wooden spoons away from appliances 

Proper use and Maintenance of Fire Safety Equipment  

Simply having the equipment necessary to put out a fire is a great first step, but from there it is important to regularly care for and maintain the equipment. What good is a faulty fire extinguisher or fire alarm with a dead battery going to be in the event of a fire?  

Proper Fire Extinguisher Usage and Maintenance 

Extinguishers should only be used on smaller fires, as it is often not as effective with bigger fires. To properly work a fire extinguisher, you pull the pin while pointing away from you, aim towards the base of the fire, squeeze the lever slowly and evenly, and sweep from side-to-side. This is called the PASS System, and all employees should know these steps.

After using an extinguisher, it is important to replace or refill your extinguisher to ensure that it is ready in case of another emergency. Even if your extinguisher has not been used recently, they should be checked on a regular basis and tested by professionals every few years.  

Fire extinguishers should be stored in areas that are accessible within seconds. You should have at least one fire extinguisher on each floor of your building or office space in easy to grab spots, near exits and in any kitchen areas.  

Fire and Smoke Alarm Installation and Maintenance  

Fire alarms and smoke alarms must first be properly installed. It is vital to ensure all of your alarms are installed correctly and in working order. 

After installation, the battery in smoke and fire alarms should be replaced every year. There are life-long batteries, but these should be avoided for older alarms that do not work as well with these legacy products. The alarm itself should be replaced every decade and checked often.  

Fire alarm guidelines are different for schools, hospitals, apartments, hotels, homes, and office spaces so it is important to check guidelines for your specific building.   

Emergency Light Illumination  

Exit and emergency lights are designed to provide you and your employees with a path to safety in the event of a fire. They are required in all commercial buildings with the intent to save the lives of those who use those buildings.  

It is important to ensure that your emergency and exit lights illuminate properly because in the event of a power failure your employees will use those lights to get to safety. The fire code requires that your illumination works for a minimum of 90 minutes when called to do so. To ensure that your lighting will work when you need it most it is important to do a monthly test.  

Keeping Records of Maintenance  

Record keeping is another important aspect of fire safety, especially regarding fire inspections as inspectors often review these records. Because of this, employers should make and maintain documentation of all records associated with fire protection systems and services.  

These records should be updated, stored, and organized for inspectors to see the documentation of regular inspection and maintenance for alarms, sprinklers, extinguishers, and any safety data sheets.  

General Fire Safety Rules and Guidelines  

To add to your knowledge beyond stop, drop, and roll, another great saying to keep in mind is ACT don’t panic. ACT stands for Assess the situation, Choose your response, and Take action.  

These steps include identifying hazards and determining if any people are at risk, then limiting the response of those involved and taking individual action then sounding the alarm and evacuating. These are great steps to keep in mind when running through each part of the ACT acronym.  

It is also important to be mindful of OSHA’s guidelines and local codes enforced by local fire safety professionals. Their guidelines are meant to prevent fires and are something you should consider and implement before it is too late. 

Fire can present a serious risk to any business; killing and injuring employees, burning and damaging buildings, and creating a massive loss of equipment and funds. As a result, it is vital to provide fire safety training for your employees to ensure their safety in the event of a fire.  

If you have any questions about fire safety training programs, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact us by commenting below, using the chat function on our site, e-mailing us at sales@nscemail.com or call us at 877-922-7233. 

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Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is impacting every industry and business across the world. As a result, many workplaces are being forced to change policies and searching for the best methods to keep their business running smoothly during COVID-19 outbreaks. National Safety Compliance has formatted the Occupational Safety and Health Associations recommendations into a handy booklet titled OSHA: Preparing Workplaces For COVID-19 for easy use by business owners and trainers.

Some businesses are affected by the interruption of supplies and deliveries from other geographic areas, while others are experiencing absenteeism as many workers are home sick, caring for loved ones, or unable to work due to being at-risk or fearful of potential exposure. Most are seeing a change in patterns of commerce as consumer interest increases in items used for infection prevention and shopping habits change to reduce person-to-person contact. 

While it is not possible to entirely stop these consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers can reduce the effect it has on their business, workers, customers, and the public by planning and preparing for traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. They can do so by implementing engineering, administration, personal protective equipment (PPE), and work practice controls. Giving employees COVID-19 safety training and implementing COVID safe work practices can significantly reduce the impact and spread of COVID in your workplace.

These methods may change as new information becomes available. COVID-19 outbreak conditions change and evolve, making it vital that employers keep up with new information on the transmission and impacts of the virus. They should consistently be mindful of potential risks in the workplace and any new control measures to enforce.

Employers should continually remind themselves and others to stay home from work if symptoms of COVID-19 appear. These symptoms include cough, fever, and shortness of breath and they will appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure. Employers cannot rely on symptoms alone, as many people are asymptomatic, meaning they experience no symptoms at all.

People are most contagious when their symptoms are at their worst, but it is possible for the virus to spread before any symptoms show. It is thought to spread mainly from people in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets that are inhaled or land in another’s mouth or nose. 

How Employers Can Reduce Workers’ Risk of Exposure

To reduce the risk of exposure, follow these basic steps:

  • Develop an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan:

Develop a guide on protective actions against COVID-19 that incorporates recommendations from state and local health agencies. This should address the need for social distancing, exposure-reducing measures, and controls necessary to address those risks.

  • Prepare to Implement Basic Infection Prevention Measures:

This should place an emphasis on employers enforcing basic infection prevention and implementing good hygiene and infection control practices. This includes encouraging workers to stay home when sick, practicing frequent disinfection, respiratory etiquette, and not using others’ workspaces.

  • Develop Policies and Procedures for Prompt Identification and Isolation of Sick:

Employers should inform on symptoms and develop policies for employees to self-monitor for symptoms. Any confirmed cases of the virus should be isolated from the worksite and their workspace should be marked off with a temporary barrier.

  • Develop, Implement, and Communicate about Workplace Flexibilities and Protections:

Encourage employees to stay home when sick by allowing leave policies to be flexible, developing non-punitive leave policies, and not requiring a note from a healthcare provider. This also includes being understanding about workers taking care of sick family members, being aware of their health and safety concerns, and working with insurance companies on providing information about medical care in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

  • Implement Workplace Controls:

To eliminate the hazards a combination of control measures including engineering controls, administrative controls, and safe work practices is necessary to effectively protect workers from exposure.

Different Forms of Control:

  • Engineering Controls: Isolate employees from work-related hazards where appropriate to avoid relying on worker behavior. These can include high-efficiency air filters, ventilation rates, and physical barriers.
  • Administrative Controls: This includes any changes in workplace policy and procedures that reduce exposure to a hazard like minimizing contact, establishing alternating shifts, and providing workers with up-to-date training and education on COVID-19.
  • Safe Work Practices: Administrative control that include procedures for safe and proper work to reduce the duration and frequency of exposure to a hazard by providing resources on personal hygiene, requiring regular handwashing, and supplying disinfectants. This can also be done with Coronavirus awareness training and awareness classes to further educate your employees on COVID-19 safety.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: PPE like gloves, goggles, face shields, and masks should be used in addition to, rather than in place of, the above workplace controls to prevent certain exposures. Make sure to provide PPE Safety Training if needed.

Classifications of Exposure

Worker risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19 is classified into very high, high, medium, or lower (caution) risk. The risk level is determined by the industries’ need for workers to be within 6 feet of someone suspected of being infected.

This helps employers determine the appropriate precautions for their workplace depending on which category they fall into.

  • Very High Exposure Risk:

These employees have the highest potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19. This can include healthcare workers performing procedures on COVID-19 patients, laboratory personnel collecting specimens from patients, or morgue workers performing autopsies on the bodies of those known to have COVID-19 at the time of their death. Employers for very high exposure risk jobs should require all forms of engineering controls, administrative controls, and all safe work practices available, as well as all PPE including respirators.

  • High Exposure Risk:

These employees are at a high risk of exposure because they are in direct contact with suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19. This includes those working with COVID-19 patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and emergency response facilities. Employers of high exposure risk workers should follow the same guidelines as those given to very high exposure risk, though this is only a recommendation instead of a requirement.

  • Medium Exposure Risk:

These are people in a workforce who are required to be in close contact with other people who may be exposed including their co-workers. This includes places with ongoing community transmission, travel, and contact with the public in settings like schools, food processing, and high-volume retail centers. Employers for medium risk exposure workers should install physical barriers like sneeze guards, offer face masks to employees and customers, keep informed on symptoms of COVID-19 and not allow anyone experiencing those symptoms in the workplace, limit public access to only certain places, minimize face-to-face contact and select a combination of PPE to protect workers specific to their workplace.

  • Low Risk (Caution):

The majority of American’s make up this category with jobs that don’t require any contact with the public or any suspected of being infected, in addition, this means minimal contact with coworkers and the public. Employers for workers within this category should follow safety protocols and basic steps to reduce the risk of exposure and they are not recommended to require any additional engineering control or PPE other than what is required by the CDC and state and local laws.

Employees Living or Travelling Abroad

Businesses with employees traveling internationally or living abroad take on a different set of risks not associated with any one level. To combat these risks, employers should communicate to workers abroad that travel into or out of a country may not be possible or medically advisable due to COVID-19 outbreak conditions.

Employees abroad also need to be aware that the U.S. Department of State (DOS) cannot provide Americans traveling or living abroad with medications or supplies. It is likely that governments will respond to an outbreak by imposing public health measures that restrict domestic and international movement, meaning that the U.S. government’s ability to assist Americans in these countries would be even more limited.

For more information to further educate yourself on international travel during an outbreak, consult the section of OSHA’s website on “Business Travelers”, consult CDC travel warnings, and DOS travel advisories.

Assistance and Services

Staying informed on the latest developments and recommendations is critical for employees because specific guidance may change based on new information that arises. Follow federal, state, and local government agencies for communication on guidelines that apply to you in your area.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers have the responsibility to provide safe work environments for their employees. OSHA helps ensure that health and safety standards are enforced for all of America’s working men and women by setting proper guidelines and providing training, education, and assistance.

Additional OSHA Services:

  • Compliance Assistance Specialists: They work to provide information to employers on OSHA standards with educational programs and information on compliance assistance resources.
  • No-Cost On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Services for Small Business: Offer confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses with priority to high-hazard worksites.
  • Cooperative Programs: Allows businesses and labor groups to work cooperatively with OSHA.
  • Strategic Partnerships and Alliances: Provides a chance for OSHA to partner with employers, associations, labor organizations, and others to develop tools and resources to share with workers to educate on their rights and responsibilities.
  • Voluntary Protection Programs: The VPP recognizes those who have effectively implemented safety and health programs in the private sector and federal agencies.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Training: Delivers courses on OSHA standards and health and safety topics to students.
  • OSHA Educational Materials: OSHA has many materials to assist workers in finding and preventing any hazards including QuickTakes, newsletters, and publications.

To help further educate your employees, National Safety Compliance offers health and safety posters on 5 steps to stop COVID-19 spread, hand washing, respirator safe use, protecting yourself and others, answering novel coronavirus questions, and determining the difference between social distancing, quarantine, and isolation.

Order our booklet Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 for a complete outline of everything you need to know about keeping your employees and workplace safe, efficient, and compliant according to current OSHA guidelines. These low-cost booklets will receive an automatic bulk discount in your cart when you buy 10 or more.

As mentioned earlier, we also have an Infectious Disease Training Program to help employers train for COVID-19 and future pandemics, which was newly created for Summer 2020. This program is available on DVD, USB, or via Instant Digital Access. It includes a trainer’s guide, compliance manual, PowerPoint presentation, employees quizzes, answer keys, supplemental documents, completion certificates, and wallet cards. These documents are all in digital form, so employers can print them for as many employees as they need at no additional costs.

National Safety Compliance is dedicated to helping employers identify and amend any job hazards to improve their safety and health programs. Our safety training programs are designed to help employers comply with their responsibilities under OSHA regulations and substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace illnesses. If you have any questions, please call us a 877-992-7233, reach us by e-mail at sales@nscemail.com, or comment below.

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Infectious Disease Control Training for the Workplace

The impact of COVID-19 has left no aspect of daily life untouched. Everything from going to the airport or showing up to work every day has been completely altered as COVID-19 shows its effects on all financial markets and industries. This pandemic has revealed the need for specialized training, so National Safety Compliance has developed a complete infectious disease control training program to help protect your business, employees, and clients from further danger or disruption.

Businesses have been constantly working towards reducing the impact of COVID-19 by planning and preparing as far in advance as possible for the safety of employers, workers and customers.

Many are concerned about the potential risk for exposure, how to control sources of exposure and slow down the transmission of the disease. If employers move forward without proper planning and training employees, these concerns may become a reality.

Lack of continually planning and preparing will result in the consistent failure of employers’ attempts to address the challenges of the pandemic. In order to succeed in your efforts to keep your employees safe, you must have both sufficient resources and adequate training for your employees to perform their jobs under pandemic conditions.

Proper pandemic planning should be based on infection prevention, industrial hygiene practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) use. Moving forward, employers and employees should be mindful of this training guidance to identify any risks in workplace settings, determine the appropriate measures to implement and take the necessary steps to ensure a safe workplace for all.

Having an In-Depth Understanding of COVID-19

In order to understand how to prevent the spread of the disease, you have to first have a better understanding of the disease itself. There is a constant flow of new information as researchers discover more about the disease.

Here is what we currently know about the disease. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person when they are in close contact with one another or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

While infected surfaces and objects are not the primary way of acquiring the disease, it is possible to procure the virus by touching an infected surface or object and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

Cleaning desk to prevent infectious disease.

It is believed that those who are infected are most contagious when they are most symptomatic. Meaning, the more symptoms you show, the more contagious you are. But people can also carry and spread the disease while they are asymptomatic.

Symptoms often appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and include a cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell and many other potential symptoms.

It is important to stay up to date with current conditions during the pandemic. Many assume once they know the basic methods of prevention and symptoms to watch out for they are educated enough, but new information about the virus may require changes in how you operate your workplace.

Looking ahead, new information is still being sought about the virus to help understand the disease. It is vital that employers continue to stay up to date on all aspects of COVID-19 to better understand how to protect against infection, treat cases and provide safe workplaces as the economy continues to open back up.

Utilize valuable resources like the CDC, OSHA and local and state governmental agencies in order to stay up to date on new information.

Implementing Pandemic Preparedness Plan

The first step to safety for your employers during this outbreak is to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan. While making this you should be mindful of current regulations and recommendations from local agencies to incorporate into your plan.

Your plan should prepare your business for increased worker absenteeism, change in commerce patterns, delivery and supply disruptions, the need for social distancing and conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce and cross-training.

You should also consider the level of risk associated with various job tasks and which controls may be necessary to address them. For instance, it is important to determine how and where your employees can be exposed, as well as each individuals risk factors.

These risk factors will be different for each employee. Protection and PPE should be provided for customers who come in close contact with others.

You should also gauge the health of your employees consistently and encourage them to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of disease. This can be done by putting policies into place that ensure employees report if they are experiencing any symptoms and designating a room to close off so they can be isolated until medical help can arrive.

Workplace Controls and OSHA Standards 

The best way to control hazards is to systematically remove them from the workplace. A combination of control measures is necessary to reduce exposure.

One form of this is engineering controls. This can include installing high-efficiency air filters, ventilation rates, physical barriers like sneeze guards and pressure ventilation.

Another form is administrative controls which should be included within any workplace plan. Consider including policies like encouraging sick employees to stay home, minimizing contact between any people within the building, establishing flexible worksites, discontinuing non-essential work travel and providing employees with up to date education and training on pandemic risk factors.

You should also be mindful of safe work practices which is a form of control measures that emphasizes good hygiene and infection control practices. This includes frequent hand washing, respiratory etiquette and routine housekeeping procedures to clean and disinfect.

And the final form of control measures is to provide proper PPE. This can include gloves, masks, face shields and goggles. Beyond simply providing PPE, employers should also provide training on proper use of PPE by having them properly fitted, regularly inspected and properly removed, cleaned and stored.

A combination of all of these forms is the perfect method for eliminating any risks to your employees. Businesses must also be mindful of OSHA guidelines on PPE, the General Duty Clause and Bloodborne Pathogens.

OSHA has divided job tasks into four risk exposure levels in the shape of a pyramid to represent probable risk. This ranges from very high exposure risk which would include healthcare or morgue workers to lower exposure risk which includes jobs that don’t require any contact with people suspected of being infected and minimal contact with the public.

Overall, the best workplace control to put into place is to communicate openly with your employees about the current situation of the workplace, provide training as needed and ensure employees are informed of safety precautions being taken.

At National Safety Compliance, we offer a number of different ways to train your employees on infectious disease training and planning. Here on OSHA-Safety-Training.net we offer complete infectious disease training programs with videos, trainers guides, PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, printable completion certificates, wallet cards, and more on DVD, USB, or Digital Access. We also offer complete online training modules on our OSHA Online Training site. Also, make sure to purchase posters in our series of informational COVID-19 safety posters.

 

If you have any further questions, please comment below, reach out to us via e-mail, or call us at 877-922-7233.

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Safe Lifting Training For Your Workforce

Trainer Certifying Employee in Safe Lifting

While lifting seems like a risk-free activity, there are many potential hazards. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) more than one million workers experience back injuries each year, with 75% of back injuries occurring while performing lifting tasks. 

A back injury can have a permanent effect on a worker’s life and is one of the most common reasons that people miss work.  Ensuring your employees have received lifting safety training and practice safe lifts makes them less likely to incur such injuries.  

A big benefit of using safe lifting training is that it teaches your employees about the dangers of overexertion while lifting and the importance of always using OSHA proper lifting techniques no matter how heavy the load.  

At National Safety Compliance, we offer several different ways to train your employees on safe lifting techniques, including turn-key online safe lifting and back safety training modules onlineOSHAtraining.net, as well as more traditional employer-led training programs available on DVD, USB, or Digital Access on OSHA-Safety-Training.net

Proper Lifting Technique 

  1. Plan ahead  

Before lifting anything, it is important to check your path and surroundings to ensure the work area is flat, dry and free of debris. Decide where you’re going to place the object and how you’ll get there. Then determine the approximate weight of the object and whether or not it’s safe to lift on your own or with a two-man lift limit.  

  1. Stretch  

Warming up before lifting can be the defining factor between an injury and gliding through your workload. It is imperative to stretch your back and legs in order to warm up the muscles, some great stretches for this are lower back rotations and the hamstring stretch. You also need good blood flow in order to perform properly so you should do a few jumping jacks or run in place briefly before beginning.   

  1. Lift  

To lift safely, you should stand as close to the load as possible so you don’t exert more force onto your back by extending the distance. Then bend your knees and keep your upper body upright so your legs do the lifting rather than your back. Look straight ahead and keep your back straight and shoulders back so you have a slight arch in your lower back.  

  1. Carry 

Get a good grip on the load and use your feet to change direction, taking small steps as you go. As you change direction, lead with your hips and keep your shoulders in line with your hip’s movement. Keep the load close to your body with your elbows at your sides.  

  1. Set down 

Lower the load in reverse by lowering your legs and keeping the load close to your body. Keep your head up, stomach muscles tight and the load close to your body. While it may seem like this is the easy part, you can injure yourself just as easily with setting down a load as you can picking it up.  

Dangerous Activities to Avoid When Lifting:  

Trainer Helping Worker Lift Properly
Trainer Advising Employee on Lifting Mistakes
  • Twisting or turning your body while lifting a load  
  • Attempting to carry a load that is too heavy or too large  
  • Lifting an object above shoulder level  
  • Bending forward rather than squatting down to your load 
  • Using a partial grip with only 1-2 fingers  
  • Lifting or working while fatigued  
  • Obstructing your vision while carrying a load 
  • Rushing through the process  
  • Holding your breath 

Can Back Belts Help Prevent Injury?

While back belts have become commonplace for a lot of employees in a workforce that requires a lot of lifting, there is no research that shows that these prevent or decrease back injuries related to lifting.  

Back belts offer a lot of supposed benefits but there is a severe lack of scientific evidence to support these benefits. In most cases, back belts can create more potential dangers by creating a false sense of security and making workers more likely to attempt to lift more weight than they can handle.  

This is why it is so important to still be mindful of safe lifting techniques and practices rather than relying on a back belt to do the job. Regardless of whether you believe back belts are advantageous or not, do not trust them as a substitute, and instead be mindful of proper lifting.  

If you’re putting all your prevention resources into back belts, you are not adequately protecting your workers. Instead, focus your efforts on reducing all risk factors, training your employees on how to lift and respond to reports of discomfort and fatigue as soon as they arise.  

High Frequency and Long Duration Lifting 

Proper Lifting is important for long term employee retention and satisfaction
Implementing Back Safety and Safe Lifting Training Will Improve Employee Retention and Satisfaction.

When lifting and carrying loads for long periods of time it is important to be mindful of what your body is telling you. If you begin to feel fatigued you should set down the load, rest and take a break. It is vital to keep your energy up for picking up and setting down the load following the proper technique.  

If you are required to have your employees lift high frequency and long duration loads it is essential to plan ahead in order to work in frequent breaks, teamwork and rotating tasks.  

If you have any questions about our proper lifting training programs, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact us using the chat function on our site, e-mail us at sales@nscemail.com or call us at 877-922-7233. 

 

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4 Simple Steps to Train Your New and Returning Employees

UPDATE:Our Complete Infectious Disease Control Training Program Is Now Available

As your workforce returns from the coronavirus closures, it’s a good time to be proactive about your training needs for the remainder of 2020. Proper training ensures that your team will be safe and ready to resume working at peak efficiency. If you haven’t already read it, you may also want to read our guide on How to Prepare Your Office to Reopen.

National Safety Compliance has a variety of training resources that can be tailored precisely to your needs: online courses, booklets, posters, signage and much more.

Forklift driver wearing a safety mask to avoid coronavirus infection and transmission
Forklift Driver Wearing PPE

Here are some of the many ways that employee training helps your business succeed:

  • Higher productivity – When employees are well-trained, both the quantity and quality of their work improves.
  • Greater job satisfaction – Employees who receive excellent training have higher morale and greater loyalty to your organization.
  • Less supervision required – Well-trained workers spend far less time asking their supervisors for instruction and clarification.
  • Fewer accidents – Highly trained employees are less likely to experience accidents at work.
  • More opportunities for promotion – Well-trained workers are better candidates for promotion and are less likely to leave.

Here are 4 easy steps for jump-starting your employee training efforts:

#1 – Determine Which Training Method Works Best For Your Budget and Schedule

Woman using onlineoshatraining.net for workplace training
Online Training is a Great Way to Train Employees Remotely
  • Online training – This option lets employees learn at their own pace on their own schedule, either at home or on the job site. Explore some of the many online courses we offer on our Online OSHA Training LMS site.
  • Employer-led training using a National Safety Compliance training kit – This option lets you train all your employees for one low price. Each kit includes a video, trainer’s manual, PowerPoint presentation, compliance guide, employee quizzes, printable certificates, wallet cards, and more. These kits are available on DVD, USB, or instantly online via our Digital Access offering. Here is an example of our popular forklift training kit.
  • On-site instructor – This is the most expensive solution, where an instructor conducts training in-person at your facility.

#2 – Identify Your Industry And The Specialized Training Required

Food Service, Like Many Other Industries, Requires Specialized Training

Some training is applicable to all industries, such as proper hand-washing, sexual harassment prevention, safe lifting and back safety, and fire safety.

Here are some popular National Safety Compliance training kits for specific industries:

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have a question about the training kits most applicable to your industry, please contact us.

#3 – Schedule Your Training Sessions

Online training is easy to schedule because all the work is done by computer. Employees can study either at home or in one of your offices. This is a popular option for employees currently working from home who are preparing to return to the workplace or on-boarding for a new position.

An employee taking an online safety training course
Employee Completing an Online Training Course on onlineoshatraining.net

Employer-led training can take place at your convenience. Make sure to practice safe social distancing when conducting on-site training. It’s a good idea to offer separate 1-hour sessions so employees can retain the material better.

#4 – Verify And File Test Completion Certificates

Most federal and state regulatory organizations require you to keep test results on file for each employee.

According to the Association for Talent Development, companies that offer comprehensive training programs enjoy 218% higher income per employee than companies without formal training programs. These companies also have a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training.

As your company gradually resumes normal operations, now is the perfect time to proactively explore training opportunities for both new and returning employees. Call us today at 877-922-7233, send an e-mail to sales@nscemail.com, or use the chat function to learn more about our productivity-boosting training kits and online training courses.

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Minimizing COVID-19 Exposure In The Workplace

Best Practices for COVID-19 in the Workplace
Best Practices for COVID-19 in the Workplace

UPDATE:Our Complete Infectious Disease Control Training Program Is Now Available

Are you taking these precautions to help workers stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic?

There are thousands of workplaces still operating – many at peak capacity – during the coronavirus pandemic. These include food production facilities, warehouses, shipping companies, hospitals, physician offices and factories producing much-needed medical equipment like ventilators and protective masks. Many others are looking at what practices to implement when they return to work from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Here are some COVID-19 best practices and training tips that will help mitigate risk factors in your workplace. If you already have a robust pandemic safety and training program, these recommendations can make it even stronger.

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As of April 14th, it has already infected more than 588,300 people in the U.S., causing nearly 25,000 deaths.

Some business owners already have pandemic safety training plans in place for influenza outbreaks, but this crisis requires additional COVID-19 safety training in accordance with labor law best practices for coronavirus safety.

Symptoms of COVID-19

The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. But an estimated 25% (perhaps even more) of infected people may not exhibit any symptoms at all. These people can nonetheless still spread the disease.

According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

How COVID-19 Spreads

People can get COVID-19 by being in close proximity to an active carrier or by touching a surface that has the virus on it, then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

Impact On The Workplace

The potential for workplace coronavirus is already having these effects on businesses across America:

Greater absenteeism – Some workers can’t report because they have the illness, while others are caregivers for children in locations where schools and daycare centers have been closed.

Reduced or altered hours – Some businesses (like grocery stores) are reducing hours of operation so that facilities can be sanitized overnight.

The Importance Of Communication

American workers are both frightened and confused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Company-wide communication can bring calm and clarity. For example, The Department of Labor has created a fact sheet about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that gives all federal workers greater paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave during the COVID-19 crisis.

Pandemic Planning For Businesses

Establishing A Response Plan

If your organization doesn’t currently have an infectious disease preparedness plan, now is the time to implement one. Pandemic training can help business owners and managers deal with the current outbreak and any future ones.

Key considerations include:

  • Determining where and how workers might get exposed to COVID-19 at your site
  • Assessing your workers’ risk factors (e.g., age, chronic health conditions, pregnancy, etc.)
  • Discovering whether coronavirus handwashing best practices are being followed
  • Developing a plan for higher rates of worker absenteeism
  • Determining which employees have the ability to work remotely
  • Implementing multiple shifts or staggered hours to reduce the number of employees working at any given time
  • Cross-training employees to cover the duties of those who are ill or providing childcare

Preventive Measures To Minimize Infection

These recommendations can greatly reduce the rate of infection:

  • Advise employees to stay home if they’re feeling ill
  • Provide all employees with places to wash their hands with soap and hot water
  • Train workers in cough and sneeze etiquette (covering a cough or sneeze to prevent airborne transmission)
  • Distribute hand sanitizers at numerous locations in the workplace
  • Reorganize workflow to allow for social distancing of six feet between workers
  • Use disinfectant products to frequently clean desktops, work areas, computer keyboards, etc.
  • Discourage employees for using other workers’ computers or tools
  • Encourage employees to wear gloves, protective face masks or bandanas if appropriate

Modifying The Workplace

Infection rates can also be reduced by augmenting the workplace with:

  • High-efficiency air filters
  • Sneeze guards
  • Drive-through windows for customer service

Additional Resources On COVID-19 Exposure In The Workplace

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the latest information about COVID-19: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also provides COVID-19 updates at www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/.

Your Most Trusted Safety Compliance Resource

If you need help with any type of safety compliance training, National Safety Compliance can help. We offer hundreds of safety training resources for all industries, such as our DVD, USB, or Digital Access Safety Training Kits which empower employers to train all of their employees at one low cost, our safety training and labor law posters, and our Online Training Courses that can be assigned to employees remotely.

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OSHA’s Temporary Fit Guidance for Respiratory Protection Concerning Covid-19

On March 14, 2020 OSHA issued a temporary fit guidance for respiratory protection for Health Care Providers (HCP) in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic crisis. The guidance was in response to a memorandum by the President and was done to ensure HCP have proper and adequate access to N95 or greater respiratory protection.

On March 11, 2020 President Trump authorized the Memorandum on Making General Use Respirators Available. In the memorandum President Trump stated “It is the policy of the United States to take proactive measures to prepare for and respond to public health threats, including the public health emergency involving Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which was declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services on February 4, 2020.” He further stated “We must ensure that our healthcare providers have full access to the products they need. …Unfortunately, at present, public health experts anticipate shortages in the supply of personal respiratory devices (respirators) available for use by healthcare workers in mitigating further transmission of COVID-19.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall take all appropriate and necessary steps with respect to general use respirators to facilitate their emergency use by healthcare personnel in healthcare facilities and elsewhere… Additionally, the Secretary of Labor shall consider all appropriate and necessary steps to increase the availability of respirators.”

OSHA has provided temporary guidance for 29 CFR § 1910.134, regarding required annual fit-testing which took effect March 14th and remains in effect until further notice.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that Health Care Providers (HCP), who are providing direct care of patients with known or suspected COVID-19, practice infection control procedures. These include engineering controls (e.g., airborne infection isolation rooms), administrative controls (e.g., cohorting patients, designated HCP), work practices (e.g., handwashing, disinfecting surfaces), and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, face shields or other eye protection, and gowns. Appropriate respiratory protection is required for all healthcare personnel providing direct care of these patients. (For additional guidance, see COVID-19 Hospital Preparedness Assessment Tool, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/hcp-hospital-checklist.html.)

OSHA recommends HCP employers follow existing CDC guidelines, including taking measures to conserve supplies of these respirators while safeguarding HCP. One such measure is that healthcare employers may provide HCP with another respirator of equal or higher protection, such as N99 or N100 filtering facepieces, reusable elastomeric respirators with appropriate filters or cartridges, or powered air purifying respirators. They may also change the method of fit testing from a destructive method (i.e., quantitative) to a non-destructive method (i.e., qualitative).

Workers should visually inspect the N95 respirator to determine if the structural and functional integrity of the respirator has been compromised. Over time, components such as the straps, nose bridge, and nose foam material may degrade, which can affect the quality of the fit and seal. If the structural and functional integrity of any part of the respirator is compromised, or if a successful user seal check cannot be performed, discard the respirator and try another respirator.

OSHA field offices should use their own discretion regarding enforcement of the annual fit testing requirement as long as employers:

  • Make a good-faith effort to comply with 29 CFR § 1910.134;
     
  • Use only NIOSH-certified respirators;
     
  • Implement CDC and OSHA strategies for optimizing the supply of N95 filtering facepiece respirators and prioritizing their use;
     
  • Perform initial fit tests for each HCP with the same model, style, and size respirator that the worker will be required to wear for protection against COVID-19;
     
  • Inform workers that the employer is temporarily suspending the annual fit testing of N95 filtering facepiece respirators to preserve and prioritize the supply of respirators for use in situations where they are required to be worn;
     
  • Explain to workers the importance of performing a fit check each time they put it on to make sure they are getting an adequate seal from their respirator;
     
  • Conduct a fit test if they observe visual changes in the employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit and explain to workers that, if their face shape has changed since their last fit test, they may no longer be getting a good facial seal with the respirator and, thus, are not being adequately protected; and,
     
  • Remind workers they must inform their supervisor or their respirator program administrator if the integrity and/or fit of their N95 filtering facepiece respirator is compromised.

For our Respiratory Protection Training Program in English or Spanish and other training products related to Respiratory Safety, please visit: https://www.osha-safety-training.net/product-category/topic/subject-respiratory-safety/

For our PPE Training Program in English or Spanish and other training products related to PPE, please visit: https://www.osha-safety-training.net/product-category/topic/subject-personal-protective-equipment/

If you prefer to train your employees remotely or from any computer, please visit the PPE Safety Training or Respiratory Safety Training section at Online OSHA Training by National Safety Compliance

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U.S. Department of Labor Issues Temporary Enforcement Guidance for Respirator Fit-Testing in Healthcare during COVID-19 Outbreak

WASHINGTON, DC – Following President Donald J. Trump’s memorandum on the availability of respirators during the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued new temporary guidance regarding the enforcement of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard. This guidance is aimed at ensuring healthcare workers have full access to needed N95 respiratory protection in light of anticipated shortages.

“The safety and health of Americans are top priorities for the President. That’s why the Administration is taking this action to protect America’s healthcare workers,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “Today’s guidance ensures that healthcare workers have the resources they need to stay safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

“America’s healthcare workers need appropriate respiratory protection as they help combat the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “Today’s guidance outlines commonsense measures that will keep personal respiratory devices available for our country’s healthcare workers.”

OSHA recommends that employers supply healthcare personnel who provide direct care to patients with known or suspected coronavirus with other respirators that provide equal or higher protection, such as N99 or N100 filtering facepieces, reusable elastomeric respirators with appropriate filters or cartridges, or powered air purifying respirators.

This temporary enforcement guidance recommends that healthcare employers change from a quantitative fit testing method to a qualitative testing method to preserve integrity of N95 respirators. Additionally, OSHA field offices have the discretion to not cite an employer for violations of the annual fit testing requirement as long as employers:

  • Make a good faith effort to comply with the respiratory protection standard;
  • Use only NIOSH-certified respirators;
  • Implement strategies recommended by OSHA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for optimizing and prioritizing N95 respirators;
  • Perform initial fit tests for each healthcare employee with the same model, style, and size respirator that the employee will be required to wear for protection from coronavirus;
  • Tell employees that the employer is temporarily suspending the annual fit testing of N95 respirators to preserve the supply for use in situations where they are required to be worn;
  • Explain to employees the importance of conducting a fit check after putting on the respirator to make sure they are getting an adequate seal;
  • Conduct a fit test if they observe visual changes in an employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit; and
  • Remind employees to notify management if the integrity or fit of their N95 respirator is compromised.

The temporary enforcement guidance is in effect beginning March 14, 2020, and will remain in effect until further notice.

For further information about COVID-19, please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

The mission of the U.S. Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.