Tag Archives: Delphine O’Rourke

COVID-19: PA makes $50M available for Hazard Pay Grants to Life Sustaining Occupations

Governor Tom Wolf announced the availability of $50 million in grant funding to help employers provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining occupations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hazard pay is intended to keep front-line employees working in vital industry sectors across Pennsylvania.

“In the fight against COVID-19, our front-line workers have put themselves at risk every day in order to continue to provide life-sustaining services to their fellow Pennsylvanians, and this funding will increase their pay in recognition of those sacrifices,” said Gov. Wolf. “These grants will help businesses retain employees, ensure that Pennsylvanians keep working and avoid disruption of critical goods and services.”

Created through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, this reimbursement-based grant is available to employers offering hazard pay during the eligible program period and will be administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

Businesses may apply for grants up to a maximum of $3 million.

The following applicants are eligible to apply:

• Businesses
• Healthcare Non-profits
• Public Transportation Agencies
• Certified Economic Development Organizations (CEDO)

Eligible Pennsylvania-based industries include:

• Healthcare and Social Assistance
• Ambulatory Health Care Services
• Hospitals
• Nursing and Residential Care Facilities
• Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation
• Food Manufacturing
• Food Retail Facilities
• Security Services for eligible industries listed above and commercial industries that were not closed as a result of the Governor’s Business Closure Order
• Janitorial Services to Buildings and Dwellings

Grant funds may be used for hazard pay for direct, full-time and part-time employees earning less than $20/hour, excluding fringe benefits and overtime for the 10-week period from August 16, 2020, to October 24, 2020. Applicants may apply for up to $1,200 per eligible full-time equivalent (FTE) employee. Employers may apply for a grant to provide hazard pay for up to 500 eligible full-time equivalent employees per location.

Eligible applicants may apply for grants using the online DCED Electronic Single Application for Assistance located at www.esa.dced.state.pa.us from July 16, 2020, to July 31, 2020. Program inquiries may be directed to (717) 787-6245 or ra-dcedcbf@pa.gov.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should follow https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Eve Klein, Jon Segal, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: OSHA issues Updated Guidance on wearing Masks in the Workplace

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a series of frequently asked questions and answers regarding the use of masks in the workplace.

The new guidance provides answers to the frequently asked questions of:

  • 1.  What are the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks and respirators?
  •  
  • Cloth face coverings:

    • May be commercially produced or improvised (i.e., homemade) garments, scarves, bandanas, or items made from t-shirts or other fabrics.
    • Are worn in public over the nose and mouth to contain the wearer’s potentially infectious respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), to others.
    • Are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE).
    • Will not protect the wearer against airborne transmissible infectious agents due to loose fit and lack of seal or inadequate filtration.
    • Are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (e.g., N95 respirators) or medical face masks (e.g., surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or face masks are recommended or required to protect the wearer.
    • May be used by almost any worker, although those who have trouble breathing or are otherwise unable to put on or remove a mask without assistance should not wear one.
    • May be disposable or reusable after proper washing.
    •  

    Surgical masks:

    • Are typically cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as medical devices (though not all devices that look like surgical masks are actually medical-grade, cleared devices).
    • Are used to protect workers against splashes and sprays (i.e., droplets) containing potentially infectious materials. In this capacity, surgical masks are considered PPE. Under OSHA’s PPE standard (29 CFR 1910.132), employers must provide any necessary PPE at no-cost to workers.1
    • May also be worn to contain the wearer’s respiratory droplets (e.g., healthcare workers, such as surgeons, wear them to avoid contaminating surgical sites, and dentists and dental hygienists wear them to protect patients).
    • Should be placed on sick individuals to prevent the transmission of respiratory infections that spread by large droplets.
    • Will not protect the wearer against airborne transmissible infectious agents due to loose fit and lack of seal or inadequate filtration.
    • May be used by almost anyone.
    • Should be properly disposed of after use.
    •  

    Respirators (e.g., filtering facepieces):

    • Are used to prevent workers from inhaling small particles, including airborne transmissible or aerosolized infectious agents.
    • Must be provided and used in accordance with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
  • 2.  Are employers required to provide cloth face masks to workers?  NO.  Cloth face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE) and are not intended to be used when workers need PPE for protection against exposure to occupational hazards. As such, OSHA’s PPE standards do not require employers to provide them.
  • 3.  Should workers wear cloth face masks while at work?  YES
  • 4.  If workers wear cloth face masks at work, should employers still look to ensure some level of social distancing?  YES
  • 5.  How am I supposed to keep my cloth mask clean? see attached suggested procedures from the CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
  • 6.  Are surgical masks or cloth face masks acceptable respiratory protection in the construction industry when respirators would be need but are not available? 

    NO. Employers should not be using  surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed.

    In general, employers should always rely on a hierarchy of controls that first includes efforts to eliminate or substitute out workplace hazards and then uses engineering controls (e.g., ventilation, wet methods), administrative controls (e.g., written procedures, modification of task duration), and safe work practices to prevent worker exposures to respiratory hazards, before relying on personal protective equipment, such as respirators. When respirators are needed, OSHA’s guidance describes enforcement discretion around use of respirators, including in situations in which it may be necessary to extend the use of or reuse certain respirators, use respirators beyond their manufacturer’s recommended shelf life, and/or use respirators certified under the standards of other countries or jurisdictions.

  • For more information on this topic and the actual FAQs please go to https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/.  Note that the OSHA guidance is NOT a standard or a regulation, rather it is advisory in nature and is intended to provide direction from OSHA.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Delphine O’Rourke, Sharon Caffey, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

 

COVID-19: PA – $324 Million Dollars awarded to 31 hospitals under the HELP Program

PA Governor Tom Wolf announced that nearly $324 Million in funding has been awarded to 31 hospitals across the Commonwealth through the “Hospital Emergency Loan Program” or HELP, which provides short-term financial relief as hospitals combat the surge of COVID-19 cases in their area.

“As Pennsylvania continues to practice social distancing, we have successfully flattened the curve, but we know that our fight against COVID-19 is far from over,” said Gov. Wolf. “This funding will allow our hospitals to hold steady in that fight with the peace of mind that they have access to the resources they need to provide critical care to their communities.”

The loan package was made available to the Commonwealth’s hospitals to provide immediate financial support for working capital to ensure that these facilities have sufficient personnel, equipment, and personal protective equipment.

The funding was dispersed by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) and is being administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) through the Pennsylvania First Program (PA First).

Pennsylvania health care facilities licensed as hospitals by the Pennsylvania Department of Health under the Health Care Facilities Act of 1979 that are eligible to receive federal grant funding through the CARES Act are eligible for HELP.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Delphine O’Rourke, Sharon Caffrey or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!