Q: Can OSHA cite a company under the General Duty Clause (GDC) for exposing employees to extreme heat?
A: Yes, but a court recently set a high bar for OSHA to use the GDC for this hazard, according to Courtney Malveaux, attorney with Jackson Lewis PC.
Historically, OSHA has protected workers against extreme heat by using the GDC which requires employers to provide employment free of recognized hazards.
However, in a 2019 case, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission set a high bar for use of the GDC in cases involving heat exposure.
OSHA recommends employers set thermostats between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
OSHA guidance also suggests employers should:
- provide workers with water and rest
- allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads
- train workers on prevention, and
- monitor workers for signs of illness.
Not in healthcare? You can still be cited for COVID issues
Q: Can OSHA still issue citations for COVID-19 violations if an employer doesn’t fall under the COVID emergency temporary standard (ETS)?
A: Yes, OSHA will use the General Duty Clause along with specific standards it feels apply to a given situation, according to law firm McCarter & English.
And don’t forget that along with the ETS, OSHA issued guidance for general industry to assist employers and workers who don’t fall under the ETS.
This guidance is meant to help employers implement COVID-19 prevention programs and identify risks that could lead to employees being exposed to the virus.
Combining training and general safety standards
Q: How does ANSI/ASSP Z490.1 combine with an organization’s existing safety management system?
A: The Z490.1 standard should be an integrated, aligned part of an organization’s safety management system, according to Jeff Dalto, Senior Learning & Customer Advocacy Manager at Vector Systems.
Safety training shouldn’t be a siloed, isolated effort that’s unconnected to real safety hazards, according to Dalto.
The same principles that apply to safety management apply to safety training, including working with other departments and getting workers engaged in risk identification.
A Z490.1 update is expected late in 2021 or early in 2022.