July 29, 2021 / Kay Bechtold

The Monthly Weekly: OSHA and NIOSH Want to Hear From You

Editor’s note: The Monthly Weekly is an occasional feature that reviews the previous month’s news coverage from The Synergist Weekly newsletter.

Government agencies often open comment periods for stakeholders and others to provide feedback regarding proposed regulations, standards, and projects, as well as on draft documents and publications. Several opportunities to provide input to OSHA and NIOSH have popped up during the past month, with the comment period for OSHA’s COVID-19 emergency temporary standard for healthcare settings perhaps the highest profile of the bunch. The ETS, which went into effect on June 21, is intended to protect workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities; emergency responders; home healthcare workers; and employees in ambulatory care settings.

AIHA submitted 13 pages of comments (PDF) on improving the ETS to OSHA on July 21. AIHA’s comments outline concerns related to several aspects of the standard and recommend the closer examination and immediate revision of portions of the ETS that deal with ventilation, physical barriers, transmission by inhalation of SARS-CoV-2, and OSHA’s use of the hierarchy of controls. The comment period remains open for individuals who wish to share their thoughts with OSHA: the agency is accepting written comments on any aspect of the ETS until Aug. 20. Instructions for submitting comments can be found on the OSHA website.

Here, SynergistNOW highlights additional comment periods of interest to industrial hygienists and occupational and environmental health and safety professionals.

Underserved PPE user populations. NIOSH seeks information on needs and challenges related to the use of personal protective equipment among U.S. worker populations who are underserved when it comes to PPE use, availability, accessibility, acceptability, or knowledge. AIHA submitted comments (PDF) in response to NIOSH’s request for information on July 16, but the agency is collecting feedback through Aug. 23.

Developing OELs or OEBs for engineered nanomaterials. A new draft technical report published by NIOSH earlier this month describes the agency’s proposed approach to developing occupational exposure limits (OELs) or occupational exposure bands (OEBs) for engineered nanomaterials. The authors seek technical review on issues such as whether the draft document adequately describes the development of a framework for categorizing engineered nanomaterials by potential occupational health hazard from inhalation exposure. Comments are due by Sept. 13.

Proposed study on the use of EHMRs during COVID-19. A new project proposed by NIOSH would use surveys and interviews to study how elastomeric half-mask respirators are being perceived and used by healthcare workers and first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study results would help inform updates and improvements to best practices and implementation guidelines for EHMRs, with the goal of reducing PPE supply shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics. Individuals who wish to provide feedback on the project can submit comments by Sept. 17.

Other currently open public comment periods involve a request for information from NIOSH concerning the scope of an upcoming funding announcement regarding the World Trade Center Health Program's research priorities involving WTC survivors; a proposed extension for a NIOSH project focused on assessing occupational injury among firefighters; and a new proposed project from NIOSH that would examine mental and physical health among police associated with COVID-19.

Please consider providing your thoughts in these areas to OSHA and NIOSH, and keep an eye on The Synergist Weekly newsletter for news about future comment periods.

Kay Bechtold

Kay Bechtold is the managing editor of The Synergist.


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