The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s national emphasis program for occupational safety in the covid-19 pandemic will be extended after its upcoming expiration date in July, Doug Parker, OSHA’s Deputy Secretary of Labor, told attendees on Wednesday during a question-and-answer session at the American Society of Safety Professionals. annual conference in Chicago.
“We are in the process of announcing its extension,” he said during the session, which was also broadcast online. “We are currently seeing hospital admissions increase in the country from covid-19. And so we do not think it is time to stop our activity.”
Mr Parker, who served as head of California̵7;s Department of Occupational Safety and Health at the beginning of the pandemic and was sworn in as head of federal OSHA in late 2021, said the pandemic will continue to be an “immediate focus” for the federal government.
OSHA hopes to introduce a permanent COVID-19 standard for healthcare by the end of 2022, he said. From there, the agency plans to continue work on a standard for infectious diseases, a process that began during the Obama administration and stopped.
“It will focus on health care (yet) the extent is indefinite. It can include other high-risk industries, ”he said. “If we learned anything from the covid-19 pandemic, it’s the importance of being prepared. And I think if we had a rule in place, we would have had better results in healthcare.”
Other goals for OSHA include the creation of a standard to prevent heat-related illnesses, he said.
“We have an average of almost 40 registered deaths per year in related work heat,” he said. “We know that there is a significant underestimation, simply because of the limits of our surveillance system, the fact that these are often classified as other types of deaths or that they are simply not recognized.”
Better record keeping is also a focus, he said.
“We think it is extremely important that in this age of data and information we improve what I believe is a very comprehensive, rather weak system of data collection on injuries and diseases in this country,” he said.