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OSHA COVID-19 Guidance for Construction

OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers and workplaces during these unprecedented times. The agency will be issuing a series of industry-specific alerts designed to keep workers safe. When working in the construction industry, the following tips can help reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus: 

  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
  • Allow workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent them from spreading the virus.
  • Continue to use other normal control measures, including personal protective equipment (PPE), necessary to protect workers from other job hazards associated with construction activities. 
  • Advise workers to avoid physical contact with others and direct employees/contractors/visitors to increase personal space to at least six feet, where possible. Where work trailers are used, all workers should maintain social distancing while inside the trailers. 
  • Train workers how to properly put on, use/wear, and take off protective clothing and equipment. 
  • Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Promote personal hygiene. If workers do not have immediate access to soap and water for hand-washing, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol. 
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against the coronavirus. 
  • To the extent tools or equipment must be shared, provide and instruct workers to use alcohol based wipes to clean tools before and after use. When cleaning tools and equipment, workers should consult manufacturer recommendations for proper cleaning techniques and restrictions.
  • Keep in-person meetings (including toolbox talks and safety meetings) as short as possible, limit the number of workers in attendance, and use social distancing practices. 
  • Clean and disinfect portable jobsite toilets regularly. Hand sanitizer dispensers should be filled regularly. Frequently-touched items (i.e., door pulls and toilet seats) should be disinfected.
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov/coronavirus or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
OSHA Issues Interim Guidance on Respirator Decontamination

As employers strive to provide workers with adequate PPE to protect themselves from exposure to  COVID-19 , OSHA has issued  interim enforcement guidance  on decontamination of filtering face piece respirators (FFRs).

The memorandum offers compliance safety and health officers guidance on enforcing OSHA’s respiratory protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, with regard to reusing FFRs that have been decontaminated through certain methods.

The guidance notes that in environments where respiratory protection must be used, and acceptable alternatives are not available for use in accordance with OSHA’s previous COVID-19 enforcement memoranda, NIOSH has identified  limited available research  that suggests the following methods offer the most promise for decontaminating FFRs:

  • Vaporous hydrogen peroxide
  • Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation
  • Moist heat (e.g., using water heated in an oven)

If these methods are not available, the NIOSH-evaluated research shows that the following methods could also be suitable options for decontamination:

  • Microwave-generated steam
  • Liquid hydrogen peroxide
  • According to NIOSH, employers should not use the following methods unless objective data become available to sufficiently demonstrate that these methods are safety and effective:
  • Autoclaving
  • Dry heat
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Soap
  • Dry microwave irradiation
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Disinfectant wipes, regardless of impregnation (i.e., chemical saturation)
  • Ethylene oxide

NIOSH also states that  only respirator manufacturers  can reliably provide guidance on how to decontaminate their specific models of FFRs. If manufacturers’ recommendations are not available, third parties may provide guidance or procedures for decontaminating respirators without impacting respirator performance.

Employers are encouraged to explore the methods identified with specific FFR models and with manufacturers or third-party input and support to better understand the impact of different methods on respirator performance, filtration, fit and structural integrity.

Furthermore, employers should be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of decontamination against likely contaminants of concern and ensure that decontamination methods do not produce additional safety hazards. If additional hazards are created, employers should ensure that workers are adequately protected through appropriate engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices and PPE.
OSHA says it will continue to consider methods for FFR decontamination on a case-by-case basis as objective data demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of such methods become available, and provide updated guidance, as appropriate.

This guidance will remain in effect until further notice.
Brandon Black - (515) 577-5198 or  Brandon@IowaCSSI.com 
Michael Messer - (319) 572-3595 or Michael@IowaCSSI.com
Mark Wieland - (515) 577-7622 or Mark@IowaCSSI.com
New WORKSAFE Projects:
  Cerebral Group, LLC, Des Moines, IA
- Veterinary Medicine ISU - Fish Tank Lobby - Remodel
City Construction, Iowa City, IA
- Northwest Junior High School Facility Improvements
JE Dunn Construction, Des Moines, IA
- UIHC MOR Telecom and Controls Upgrade
Larson Construction Co., Inc., Independence, IA
- Kirkwood Iowa Hall, Library & Benton Hall, Central Greenspace

WORKSAFE is a partnership between Master Builders of Iowa and Iowa OSHA, with safety services provided by Construction Safety Specialists, Inc. For more information on the WORKSAFE program or for safety inquiries, please contact one of the CSSI safety professionals at info@iowacssi.com

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