‘OSHA is AWOL’: Critics Say Federal Agency is Where Workplace Covid-19 Complaints Go to Die

Tampa Bay Times

by Meghan Bowbrowsky
Miami, FL – The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration, charged with enforcing health and safety in the American workplace, has received more than 6,000 complaints nationwide about unsafe work conditions related to COVID-19. And yet, on June 9, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia told lawmakers that OSHA, which his department oversees, had issued just one citation. The complaints go to OSHA, which dutifully maintains a list of the alleged infractions. But it’s unclear how much action is being taken.

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EPA Provides Consumers Consumers Additional Options for Covid-19 Disinfections

National – EPA added 32 new surface disinfectants to List N, the agency’s list of over 460 products expected to kill SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. These products have already been approved as tuberculocidal. While they have not yet been tested against SARS-CoV-2, they are approved for killing the pathogen that causes tuberculosis and are expected to kill SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when used according to the label. 

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Washington, DC – Businesses and others that suspended environmental monitoring and reporting during the Coronavirus pandemic should plan to resume those activities as of September 1, 2020. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced recently that its temporary policy regarding the exercise of enforcement discretion during the COVID?19 public health emergency will end on August 31, 2020. 

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OSHA: Surgical Masks Not a Replacement for Respirators in Non-Covid-19 Respiratory Hazards

EHS Daily Advisor

by Guy Burdick
National – Exceptions from respiratory protection regulations allowing the use of surgical masks only apply to healthcare facilities and emergency medical services, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminded employers. Other employers must provide respirators, the agency explained in guidance discussing the differences among cloth face coverings, surgical masks, and respirators.  

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Covid-19 Catapults Indoor Air Quality to the Top of the List


by Sasha Wedekind
National – While people spend 90% of their time inside, indoor air quality has not been a large focus of attention for facilities management and tenants until recently. The coronavirus outbreak is bringing indoor air quality into the spotlight as hospitals work to mitigate the spread of disease and offices, retail, and education facilities are considering strategies to reopen safely and minimize infection. 

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OSHA Construction Safety Inspections Plunge 84% During Pandemic

Safety and Health Magazine

National – OSHA in-person checks of construction sites have fallen to about 16% of pre-coronavirus inspection levels, as the agency focuses on virus hazards in the health-care industry, agency data shows. In the first week of March, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted about 395 construction inspections. During the week of April 26, there were about 65 inspections. Construction work has continued across the nation, despite stay-at-home orders, because the federal government considers it an essential industry. While 975,000 construction workers became unemployed in April, there were still 6.6 million people employed by builders, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

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Senators to Scalia: Emergency OSHA Standard Needed as Economy Reopens

Safety and Health Magazine

National – Washington — More than two dozen lawmakers are calling on OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard on infectious disease, among other steps, before reopening the economy, in an April 29 letter sent to Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. Along with the temporary standard, the senators are calling on OSHA to issue “additional interpretations regarding existing standards to increase enforceable protections” and “comprehensive” guidance on what employers must do to protect workers.

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OSHA Issues Enforcement Guidance on Decontamination of Filtering Facepiece Respirators in Healthcare During the Coronavirus Pandemic

National -The response to the pandemic has created an increased demand for FFRs, limiting their availability for use in protecting workers in healthcare and emergency response from exposure to the virus. As a result, the President directed the Secretary of Labor to “consider all appropriate and necessary steps to increase the availability of respirators.” In some circumstances, employers may find it necessary to decontaminate FFRs to facilitate their reuse. However, because of the potential for decontamination methods to affect respirator fit and/or performance, there are no NIOSH-approved methods for such processes.

Click here for the full OSHA guidance document.

EPA Expands COVID-19 Disinfectant List


Contact Information: 

EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (March 13, 2020)  Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing an expanded list of EPA-registered disinfectant products that have qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The list contains nearly 200 additional products—including 40 new products that went through the agency’s expedited review process. The agency also made key enhancements to the web-based list to improve its usefulness.

“During this pandemic, it’s important that people can easily find the information they’re looking for when choosing and using a surface disinfectant,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “With this expanded list, EPA is making sure Americans have greater access to as many effective and approved surface disinfectant products as possible and that they have the information at their fingertips to use them effectively.”

While disinfectant products on this list have not been tested specifically against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, they are expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 because they have been tested and proven effective on either a harder-to-kill virus or against another human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2.

The product list has also been updated to include the product’s active ingredient and the amount of time the surface should remain wet to be effective against the given pathogen.

To make the list more consumer friendly, information in the table is now sortable, searchable and printable, and can be easily viewed on a mobile device.

These additions make it easier for consumers to find surface disinfectants and instructions for using them effectively against SARS-CoV-2.

To view the list of EPA-registered disinfectant products, visit https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2

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