New OSHA COVID Guidance for Auto Repair Facilities—What You Need to Know

As of the end of January 2021, more than 450,000 deaths had been attributed to the Coronavirus in the United States. Throughout the pandemic, OSHA has been active in setting new OSHA COVID guidance for auto repair facilities and other businesses in order to help keep workers safe and the economy moving. Safety and Health Magazine recently quoted former OSHA administrator David Michaels, who was also recently named to President Biden’s Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, as saying, “COVID-19 has affected all aspects of the United States. It’s a worker safety crisis. We want to be able to open the economy and expand the economy to get incomes back for so many reasons. But before you can take steps, you need a plan.”

OSHA has published more than 20 interim guidance documents related to COVID-19 for various occupational groups, many of them directly affecting auto repair facilities. Keeping track of the continually-changing guidelines can be a burden, which is why we have detailed the latest publication guidelines to help clarify OSHA COVID guidance for auto repair facilities and other businesses in this article, so that you can create a compliant and effective protection program.

Staying Compliant with OSHA COVID Guidance
COVID violations for all U.S. businesses in 2020 totaled more than $3.3 million dollars (as of November 19). Fines have been given for failure to:

  • Implement a written respiratory protection program
  • Provide a medical evaluation, respirator fit test, training on the proper use of a respirator and personal protective equipment to employees
  • Report an injury, illness or fatality
  • Record an injury or illness on OSHA recordkeeping forms
  • Comply with the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. This clause mandates employers most provide work environments free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious physical harm.

A list of all citations is available from the OSHA website.

New OSHA Guidance Issued on January 29, 2021
Following an order by President Joe Biden on January 29, OSHA updated its guidance with a new publication titled, Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace. Per the White House announcement: “the most effective programs engage workers and their union or other representatives in the program’s development, and include the following key elements:”

  • Assignment of a workplace coordinator responsible for COVID-19 issues
  • Identification of where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at their workplaces
  • Enactment of measures to limit virus spread, including the following:
    • Improving ventilation
    • Physical distancing in communal work areas
    • Installing barriers where physical distancing cannot be maintained
    • Wearing face coverings
    • Using applicable PPE
    • Providing supplies for good hygiene practices
    • Routine cleaning/disinfecting
  • Create policies to protect workers who are at a higher risk of severe illness
  • Establish a system of communication with workers in their language(s), and ensure that system is accessible to all, regardless of disabilities or location
  • Educate and train workers on COVID-19 policies and procedures
  • Instruct workers who are infected or exposed to isolate or quarantine
  • Minimize any negative impact on isolated or quarantined workers
  • Isolate workers who show symptoms while at work
  • Perform enhanced cleaning and disinfecting after people with suspected COVID-19 have been in the facility
  • Provide guidance on screening and testing to workers
  • Record and report all infections and deaths
  • Make a COVID-19 vaccine available at no cost to all eligible employees, when available
  • Ensure all workers, even after they are vaccinated, continue to follow all protective measures such as mask wearing
  • Ensure the continued following of all current OSHA standards, including those for respiratory protection, sanitation and employee access to medical records

GMG EnviroSafe helps compliance with OSHA COVID Guidance for Auto Repair Facilities
Citations can be costly, but the cost of fines from failure to adhere to OSHA COVID guidance for auto repair facilities pales in comparison to lost revenues—the estimated revenue cost to U.S. businesses from temporary business closures and reduced demand is expected to top $3.2 trillion dollars. But by acting now, automotive dealerships and repair shops can minimize that loss. GMG EnviroSafe can help. We provide complete programs to the auto repair industry to protect facilities and those inside them. That includes free COVID-19 resources and training.

If you’d like to learn more about our robust compliance plans, and how we can help you protect your employees, your business and your community, we invite you to click here to get pricing and options.