May 21, 2020

COVID-19 Weekly Roundup: OSHA Sued, Research Partnership Formed, and More

Here are the latest news briefings from The Synergist on COVID-19:

AFL-CIO sues OSHA. On May 18, the AFL-CIO filed a petition (PDF) in the U.S. Court of Appeals to compel OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect workers against SARS-CoV-2. If granted by the court, OSHA would have 30 days to release the standard. The AFL-CIO had petitioned OSHA directly to develop such a standard on March 4, requesting that the standard require employers to evaluate their workplaces “for the risk of airborne disease transmission and to develop a comprehensive infection control plan with specified elements.”

CDC releases guidance on reopening. As jurisdictions across the United States ease pandemic restrictions and workplaces emerge from weeks-long lockdowns, new guidance from CDC provides a “menu” of recommendations for maintaining the health and safety of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

Degradation concerns for stockpiled respirators. Users of previously stockpiled NIOSH-approved filtering facepiece respirators should visually inspect each respirator prior to putting it on due to concerns that the head straps and filtering material may have degraded, the agency said in a notice published to its website last week. Read more.

Safety tips for three professions. OSHA has issued three separate alerts to draw attention to recommended safety measures for workers in the rideshare, taxi and car service industry; retail pharmacies; and nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Nursing homes have been particularly hard hit by the virus, with The New York Times reporting earlier this month that nursing home residents and workers account for one third of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.

Guidance for three other professions. CDC released information about COVID-19 for long-haul truck drivers, waste collectors and recyclers, and maritime pilots.

Attention to eye exposures. A new health and safety alert from the National Institutes of Health raises awareness about the need to protect workers’ eyes from exposure to SARS-CoV-2. The document notes that over 57 percent of all blood and body fluid exposures to healthcare workers involved the eyes, while only 6.4 percent of workers involved in those incidents were wearing eye protection. Read more.

NIH organizes public-private research initiative. The National Institutes of Health is working with multiple federal agencies, the European Medicines Agency, and several leading biopharmaceutical companies to develop an international strategy for an “integrated research response” to COVID-19. The partnership, known as ACTIV—Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines—has established a framework for prioritizing therapeutic and vaccine candidates, streamlining clinical trials, and coordinating regulatory processes.

Joint guidance for manufacturing facilities. New guidance published by CDC and OSHA describes prevention practices and controls meant to reduce the risk of transmission of and illness from COVID-19. Read more.