Common OSHA Citations Related to COVID-19




OSHA recently published yet another guidance related to COVID-19, titled Common COVID-19 Citations: Helping Employers Better Protect Workers and Comply with OSHA Regulations (there's also a shorter, "Lessons Learned" document they created as well).

As you might have guessed, the new OSHA guidance:

  • Lists some common citations related to COVID-19
  • Gives some tips for complying with OSHA standards during the COVID-19 pandemic

Although we encourage you to read the OSHA guidance, as always, we'll summarize the guidance for you here as well.

Be sure to check all of the OSHA guidance documents related to COVID-19 at the OSHA COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics web page.

Also, please check out the free COVID-19 training videos our parent company, Vector Solutions, is offering.



The most commonly-cited standard violations related to COVID-19 come from these standards:

Let's take a closer look at each.

1910.134, Respiratory Protection

The sections of the 1910.134 Respiratory Protection standard most often cited include those listed below.

Section (e), Medical Evaluations

Citations involved violations of:

  • 1910.134(e)(1), The employer did not provide a medical evaluation before the worker was fit-tested or used the respirator
  • 1910.134(e)(2)(ii), The medical evaluation was missing information required in mandatory Appendix C (OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire) of the standard

Section (f), Fit Testing

Citations involved violations of:

  • 1910.134(f)(1), The employer did not perform an appropriate fit test for a tightfitting facepiece respirator
  • 1910.134(f)(2), The employer did not ensure that an employee was fit tested prior to using the respirator the first time, whenever a different respirator facepiece was used (size, style, model or make), and annually thereafter.
  • 1910.134(f)(5), The employer did not administer a fit test using a protocol in Appendix A (Fit Testing Procedures) of the standard.

Section (c), Respiratory Protection Programs

Citations involved violations of:

  • 1910.134(c)(1), The employer did not establish, implement, or update a written respiratory protection program with worksite-specific procedures. The employer did not include specific provisions in their respiratory protection program, including procedures for: medical evaluations; fit-testing; and regularly evaluating the effectiveness of the program.
  • 1910.134(c)(2)(i), The employer determined that voluntary respirator use was permissible but did not provide the respirator users with the mandatory information from Appendix D (Information for Employees Using Respirators When not Required Under Standard).
  • 1910.134(c)(3), The employer did not designate a qualified program administrator to administer or oversee the respiratory protection program and conduct the required evaluations of program effectiveness

Section (k), Training and Information

Citations involved violations of:

  • 1910.134(k), The employer did not provide effective training, and basic information as described in Appendix D (Information for Employees Using Respirators When not Required Under Standard). The training must be comprehensive, understandable, and recur annually, and more often if necessary.
  • 1910.134(k)(1), The employer did not ensure that each employee could demonstrate
    knowledge of:
    • Why the respirator is necessary;
    • How improper fit, usage, or maintenance can reduce protection;
    • The limitations and capabilities of the respirator;
    • How to use the respirator effectively in emergency situations;
    • How to inspect, put on and remove, use, and check the respirator seal;
    • Procedures for maintenance and storage;
    • How to recognize medical signs and symptoms that may limit or
    prevent respirator use; and
    • The general requirements of this section.
  • 1910.134(k)(3), The employer did not provide training before the employee used a respirator in the workplace
  • 1910.134(k)(5)(i), The employer did not retrain employees about changes in the workplace or the type of respirator when previous training was obsolete.
  • 1910.134(k)(6), The employer allowed voluntary use of respirators but did not provide the required information on voluntary use of respirators in mandatory Appendix D (Information for Employees Using Respirators When not Required Under Standard).

Section (d), General Requirements

Citations involved violations of:

  • 1910.134(d)(1)(ii), The employer did not select a NIOSH-certified respirator.
  • 1910.134(d)(1)(i), The employer did not select and provide an appropriate respirator based on the respiratory hazard(s) to which the worker is exposed

Section (a), Permissible Practice

Citations involved violations of:

  • 1910.134(a)(2), The employer did not provide an appropriate respirator to each employee when necessary to protect the health of the employee.

Section (m), Medical Evaluation

Citations involved violations of:

  • 1910.134(m)(2), The employer did not establish adequate fit test records, including: the name or identification of the employee tested; the type of fit test performed; the specific make, model, style, and size of respirator tested; the date of test; and the pass/fail results for qualitative fit tests the fit factor and strip chart recording or other recording of the test results for quantitative fit tests.

Section (h), Maintenance and Care of Respirators

Citations involved violations of:

  • 1910.134(h)(2)(i), The employer did not store respirators properly in a way to protect them from damage, contamination, and deformation of the facepiece and exhalation valve (where applicable).

1904, Recording and Reporting Occupational Illnesses and Injuries

The sections of Subpart 1904 that are most often cited include those listed below.

  • 1904.39(a)(1), The employer did not report a fatality to OSHA within eight hours after the death of any employee as a result of a work-related incident.
  • 1904.4(a), The employer did not keep records of fatalities, injuries, and illnesses that were work-related.

For help with OSHA recordkeeping and reporting, download our free OSHA Recordkeeping & Reporting Guide and our Vector EHS Management Software (which handles OSHA recordkeeping, reporting, online submission, and more).

1910.132, Personal Protective Equipment

The sections of 1910.132, Personal Protective Equipment standard that are most often cited include those listed below.

  • 1910.132(d)(1), Note: these citations occurred in the healthcare sector and involved medical facemasks, faces shields, and gowns. The employer did not:
    • Assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are
    likely to be present, which require the use of PPE;
    • Select, and require the use of, appropriate PPE;
    • Communicate selection decisions to each affected employee; and,
    • Select PPE that properly fits each affected employee.
  • 1910.132(d)(2), Note: these citations occurred in the healthcare sector and involved medical facemasks, faces shields, and gowns.
    The employer did not properly document in writing that the required hazard assessment had been performed.
  • 1910.132(a), Note: these citations occurred in the healthcare sector and involved medical facemasks, faces shields, and gowns.
    The employer did not provide, use, and maintain protective equipment in a sanitary and reliable condition.
  • 1910.13, 2(f)(1), The employer did not provide training to each employee who is required to use PPE

OSHA's General Duty Clause

OSH Act 5(a)(1), The employer did not furnish a place of employment that was free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. Under the general duty clause, employers must protect employees from COVID-19 hazards at the workplace by, for example, installing plastic barriers or ensuring social distancing.

For more on the General Duty clause, read our introductory article to OSHA's General Duty clause (a part of our OSHA Basics article series).

Additional Notes

OSHA's guidance document includes links to a lot of helpful resources to help you avoid COVID-related citations like the ones issued above. Be sure to check it out and use the resources they're offering to help you.

Conclusion: Avoid these COVID-Related OSHA Citations and Create a Safer Workplace

We know we're all trying to keep workers safer and healthier during this pandemic. We hope this overview of some common COVID-related OSHA citations helps in your efforts. And remember, that's OSHA's goal, too.

Before you go, please download our COVID-Return to Work Checklist, below.

Jeff Dalto, Senior Learning & Performance Improvement Manager
Jeff is a learning designer and performance improvement specialist with more than 20 years in learning and development, 15+ of which have been spent working in manufacturing, industrial, and architecture, engineering & construction training. Jeff has worked side-by-side with more than 50 companies as they implemented online training. Jeff is an advocate for using evidence-based training practices and is currently completing a Masters degree in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning from Boise State University. He writes the Vector Solutions | Convergence Training blog and invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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