OSHA's James Frederick Addresses Professionals at AIHce EXP 2022

Attendees of AIHA’s AIHce EXP 2022 listened in while OSHA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary summarized the agency’s priorities.

Last week, OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary James Frederick addressed attendees in the closing session of AIHce EXP 2022. The session was a summarization of the agency’s current priorities and provided updates on several rulemakings.

First, Frederick addressed the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic by referring attendees to OSHA’s Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace, which is still being updated in light of new information regularly. The agency’s Deputy Assistant Secretary explained that despite the Supreme Court’s shutdown of the Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard, OSHA still gets complaints about workplaces and the virus. Frederick assured attendees that OSHA is using the General Duty Clause for enforcement purposes regarding Covid-19.

Attendees were also particularly interested in hearing updates on the agency’s endeavors to protect against extreme heat. OSHA as recently published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on heat injury prevention and launched a National Emphasis Program to protect workers from outdoor and indoor heat hazards.

In addition to the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing efforts to protect against hear, Frederick mentioned the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which will provide $500 million for construction projects around the country. Frederick reminded attendees that the influx of workers on these projects will be enormous and will require health and safety protections from the outset.

“It’s vital that occupational health professionals are engaged and involved to make certain that hazards are addressed and mitigated” as new workers enter these jobs, he explained.

In the end, Frederick acknowledged that most employers are trying to protect their workers, but need help from OSHA, especially through the agency’s compliance assistance program and training initiatives.

Speaking directly to attendees, Frederick said, ““We really want to make sure employers are going well above OSHA regulations.”

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