Impact of New OSHA Laws on Hands-On Training Curriculum in Higher Ed

| by Kiana Analytics

States across the U.S. are implementing a variety of personnel protection programs to drive clearer guidelines on managing COVID-19 exposure throughout their facilities, campuses, and buildings. Many states have begun implementing regulations to provide health and safety measures targeted at ensuring schools have measures in place to rapidly alert those exposed and protocols to reduce further exposure.

Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington have all enacted OSHA health and safety measures that address these mandates, and the list keeps growing exponentially. The Department of Labor in the Biden Administration is now looking to implement this at a national level.

California’s Response to OSHA Regulations

California has been the most aggressive state in rolling out OSHA measures. Starting January 1, 2021, California, with Assembly Bill 685 (AB685), jumped to the forefront of using OSHA regulations to extend pandemic safety regulations to all employees, staff, students, and regular visitors to all public and private sites/facilities.

In the California bill, the basic requirements are to notify within 24-hours anyone who has been exposed to a known COVID-19 case, their union representative where there is one, and local and state boards of health. Penalties for non-compliance are substantial, ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 in addition to immediate site closure. This penalty may be the most impactful of all, since a single instance of exposure may subject your institution to an immediate two-week closure. Although some states are not enacting such stringent measures, most have some version of this bill either in assembly or near enactment.

OSHA’s Impact on Educational Institutions

Throughout the pandemic, colleges, universities, and schools in general have grappled with their own responses to maintaining educational objectives. In most cases, the focus has been to provide online instruction or some form of hybrid instruction with varying degrees of success.

For most of these institutions, the new OSHA requirements will have little impact since most staff and students are not onsite risking exposure to COVID-19.  However, several disciplines require either onsite training, instruction, or lab work. Typical of this are nursing programs, where some hands-on training is required, physical sciences requiring lab instruction and, for many community colleges, programs such as Culinary, Machinist, EMT, and others need students to be onsite for some or all of the practical instruction required for certification. Similarly, schools with large foreign student populations have to continue maintaining housing for these groups.

Technology Approaches for OSHA Compliance

As these new statewide measures begin to roll out in earnest this winter and spring, there is cause for administrators to provide compliance beyond the measures they are currently taking.

App-based approaches have demonstrated to be fairly inadequate in providing any measure of assurance of exposure, and their nature requires an all or nothing approach in use and regular reporting by app users. Low adoption rates and low user engagement have created situations of false positives (the app reports contact where there is none), and false negatives (people believe that no notification means they haven’t been exposed, thereby lowering their guard in maintaining safety measures). Current manual contact tracing methods are both lengthy and time consuming (outside of the obvious privacy flaws) with low response rates. These methods don’t offer the immediacy of identifying, tracing, alerting, and reporting, to health departments and unions, that digital contact tracing methods provide.

Successful implementations of these technologies have been in place across the United States for several months. In the best cases, the investment is in the service, with little or no additional hardware needed. Best-of-breed solutions will also provide greater value for long-term school and campus use through additional capabilities that justify integration into an institution’s operations.

How Kiana’s Digital Contact Tracing Platform Delivers Compliance & ROI

Kiana Analytics has been a leader in real-time location sensing services for personnel and asset management, operations, and safety through its Smart Facilities Management platform. Kiana’s extensive experience in privacy-centric people sensing and asset management has put them in a leadership role in real-time exposure notification services for infectious disease management, such as COVID-19.  Once an exposure is identified, Kiana’s exposure notification feature helps your institution immediately identify and alert all affected individuals (preventing further virus exposures), locate the exact areas to be closed for surgical cleaning, and provides facilities with long-term data to re-engineer public use areas to improve social distancing guidelines as they develop.

Kiana’s Software-as-a-Service platform leverages a site’s existing Wi-Fi infrastructure and requires no software on any user’s device, while integrating into the site’s own health and safety framework. Kiana’s patented location sensing solution delivers operations management features such as asset tracking, a safety/security mobile app, rogue device identification, and visitor management, delivering multiples of return on your investment beyond just contact tracing compliance with the law.


The Kiana E&I contract delivers the company’s unique digital contact tracing tool as part of Kiana’s complete suite of Smart Facilities platform features. Learn more about this technology solution. For any questions, to see a live demo, or to get started, please contact Sebastian Andreatta at s.andreatta@kiana.io.

Share this: