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Fall protection citations lead annual 'Top Ten' list for 10th consecutive year

"Fall Protection - General Requirements" is the most frequently cited standard for the 10th successive fiscal year. Although several standards switched ranking, the FY2020 (ending September 30) cited standards were the same as FY2019. Respiratory protection climbed to third from fifth, probably related to the pandemic, ladders moved up one spot to number five, and lockout/tagout fell from fourth to sixth. Here is the full list:

  1. Fall Protection - General Requirements (29 CFR 1926.501): 5,424 violations
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 3,199
  3. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,649
  4. Scaffolding (1926.451): 2,538
  5. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,129
  6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 2,065
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,932
  8. Fall Protection - Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,621
  9. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment - Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,369
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,313

Emergency temporary standard status and COVID-19 NEP

Although the March 15 deadline passed without an expected Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19 workplace safety as directed by a January Executive Order, a National Emphasis Program (NEP) that focuses enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus was launched (see OSHA increasing COVID-19-Related inspections with new NEP). The Interim Enforcement Response Plan was also updated to prioritize the use of on-site workplace inspections where practical.

The ETS is expected in the near future. A White House spokesperson noted the agency was diligently working on the standard and needed more time to get it right. Once complete, the rule needs to go to the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval before it is issued and can go into effect.

Senate confirms Marty Walsh as labor secretary

Marty Walsh is the 29th labor secretary after the Senate confirmed his nomination March 22 in a 68-29 vote. Also, President Biden has named Cal/OSHA head, Doug Parker, as his nominee to head federal OSHA.

OIG finds reduced inspections put workers at risk during pandemic

Reduced workplace inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic left workers' safety at increased risk, the Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) concluded in its audit. There were 15% more complaints during the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic than during the same period in 2019, but 50% fewer inspections. Recommendations included consideration for an ETS, improving the inspection strategy, tracking and evaluating remote inspections.

Interpretation letter clarifies reporting for single injury that results in more than one reportable outcome

A recent Letter of Interpretation (LOI) explains that employers are only obligated to report a serious injury or illness once, even if it later results in another reportable outcome. For example, if an employer has reported a hospitalization that ultimately leads to an employee's death, the death does not have to be reported, if the employer has already reported the hospitalization of that same employee from the same incident.

MIOSHA begins rulemaking for permanent COVID-19 standard

MIOSHA submitted a Request for Rulemaking to the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules, initiating the process of formal rulemaking to extend the requirements of the agency's COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS). Michigan's ETS expires on April 14, but MIOSHA can extend the emergency rules for 6 months while it develops a permanent standard.

MIOSHA launches online dashboard related to COVID-19 violations

MIOSHA has launched a new online dashboard to streamline reporting of workplace safety citations related to COVID-19. The dashboard, which is updated on Fridays at 3pm, provides information on citations abated, penalty paid, case closed, awaiting abatement or penalty, case open, under formal appeal, and citation vacated.

MSHA issues updated guidance

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has updated its guidance on preventing COVID-19 exposure among workers at coal, metal, and nonmetal mines. The guidance advises mine operators and workers to establish a virus protection program or augment an existing one.

Recent fines and awards


Over 270 employers now have been cited for COVID-19 related violations. Los Angeles-based garment manufacturer Los Angeles Apparel Inc. was fined over $75,000 after reports of a COVID-19 outbreak at its factory, which the agency said included six workers who died from COVID-19 complications. The fine included failure to report the fatalities, failure to evaluate coronavirus hazards, a lack of physical distancing or barriers, and a lack of employee training on COVID-19 prevention.









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