Posted: July 19, 2013
Recently, a Roanoke, Va., funeral home was inspected by OSHA and received two "other than serious" violations. While there were no penalties, one of the violations underlines an important issue for funeral service.
One citation involved the Respiratory Protection Standard, specifically that part of the Standard that requires an employer to ensure that any employee who uses a tight-fitting face piece respirator is fit tested prior to initial use of the respirator and whenever a different respirator face piece (size, style, model or make) is used. After the initial fit test, employees must also be fit tested at least annually.
It is important to note that respirators are not required by OSHA if an employee is not exposed to a hazardous or toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, which must be verified by monitoring of the atmosphere.
A respirator must be used if there is a possible exposure to a biologic hazard, such as tuberculosis. This exposure, however, can be eliminated by using a simple precaution, such as barrier protection on an intact deceased person's remains with known or suspected tuberculosis, before the remains are removed or positioned. If there is no exposure to a biologic hazard, respirators are not required.
If an employer allows an employee to use a respirator when there is no requirement to do so because of a lack of exposure, there are separate "voluntary use" regulations employers must follow.
The other citation was for a failure to have marked exits under OSHA Standard 1910.37, which requires each exit to be clearly visible and be marked with a sign reading "Exit".
It is significant to note that in this case this was a planned inspection which means that funeral service remains on the radar for compliance
If you have questions about what is required of you and what OSHA inspectors might be looking for during inspections, NFDA members may call the free NFDA OSHA Hotline for advice. Experts answering the NFDA OSHA Hotline can answer nearly all questions about federal and state OSHA regulations.
OSHA-related legal questions regarding the Respiratory Protection Standard, required use of respirators and voluntary use of respirators may be directed to NFDA Special Counsel for Workplace Issues and OSHA, Edward Ranier, at 410-967-1812 or to.
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