As health and safety efforts continue to evolve during the global pandemic, OSHA has announced it will consider an employer's "good faith" efforts during inspections.
The enforcement memo dated Friday, April 17 details what compliance safety and health officers will examine based on interim guidance. It takes effect "until further notice" with no end date.
"Widespread business closures, restrictions on travel, limitations on group sizes, facility visitor prohibitions, and stay-at-home or shelter-in-place requirements may limit the availability of employees, consultants, or contractors who normally provide training, auditing, equipment inspections, testing, and other essential safety and industrial hygiene services," the directive states.
Patrick Kapust, acting director, Directorate of Enforcement Programs, and Directorate of Construction Director Scott Ketcham also referenced business closures that could limit training opportunities and suspended access to medical testing facilities as a reason for the decision.
The guidance instructs compliance safety and health officers to evaluate if an employer "explored all options to comply with applicable standards," in regards to any standards that require annual or recurring audits, reviews, training or assessments.
This would include implementing virtual training as well as remote communication strategies. Engineering or administrative controls also will be examined. Lastly, the employer should make an attempt to reschedule the required annual activity "as soon as possible."
The agency will assess the employers' attempts to determine whether it will present a violation and will issue one if the employer cannot present documentation that demonstrates those efforts.
A new program to conduct monitoring inspections from a randomized sampling of cases where OSHA noted violations but did not cite also is being developed.
In the memo's annex, OSHA cited five scenarios with details for which an employer would not be cited including annual audiograms, annual process safety management requirements, hazardous waste operations training, respirator fit testing and training, maritime crane training and certification and construction crane operator certification.