COVID-19 Regulations Are Exposing Firms Who Have Not Adapted To Protect Workers

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COVID-19 Regulations Are Exposing Firms Who Have Not Adapted To Protect Workers

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Oct. 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited 112 establishments for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $1,603,544. Additionally, since April there have been over 9,310 federal and 29,062 state complaints to OSHA from workers regarding COVID-19. The most common citations imposed by OSHA involved firms failing to: implement a written respiratory protection program; provide a medical evaluation, respirator fit test, training on the proper use of a respirator and personal protective equipment; and report an injury, illness or fatality. 

It is now clear that “business-as-usual” is unsustainable when it relates to reducing worker exposure and ensuring COVID-19 regulatory compliance. Firms are turning to technology to assist in effectively protecting workers from COVID-19 exposure. EHS software vendors have been expanding capabilities to address the challenges arising from disruptions caused by the pandemic limiting resources and requiring social distancing. EHS software offers functionality to comply with the commonly cited regulations by providing a digital platform to manage respiratory protection programmes, records incidents and manage illnesses. EHS software vendors’ industrial hygiene (IH) and occupational health (OH) modules can help firms comply with respirator fit testing and PPE management. In the forthcoming Verdantix Global Corporate Survey, 53% of 301 EHS decision-makers stated they have expanded their EHS software to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure. 

Similarly, OSHA has been finding non-compliance around its General Duty Clause which states firms shall provide employment and a workspace that are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees. To meet this, firms are adopting new technology to reduce the potential for worker infection by managing social distancing and ensure adequate contract tracing. Wearable vendors like Guardhat, Nymi and Corvex Connected Safety offer wearable wristbands that can help managers monitor worker location for real-time contact tracing and alert workers in case of potential hazards. All firms need to reevaluate their methodologies for protecting workers during this pandemic as governing bodies have shown no hesitation in inspecting and fining out of compliance firms. 

If you are interested in finding out about the issues and solutions highlighted in this blog the Verdantix research reports on Covid-19 response and solutions are available free for the duration of the pandemic here.

Bill Pennington

Research Director, Environment, Health & Safety

Bill leads the Verdantix Environment, Health & Safety practice. His current agenda focuses on EHS and sustainability services, product stewardship as well as benchmarking EHS technology buyer’s budgets, priorities and preferences globally. Bill comes from a background of corporate EHS roles in the manufacturing and logistics industries. He holds an MBS degree in sustainability from the Rutgers University.