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OSHA to Ramp Up Coronavirus-Related Inspections

March 16, 2021
OSHA launches a national emphasis program to prioritize enforcement efforts during COVID-19.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a national emphasis program (NEP) March 12 in response to President Joe Biden’s Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety during COVID-19.

The NEP means OSHA will focus enforcement efforts in the coming months on coronavirus-related inspections. In a press release announcing the NEP, the agency made clear it will prioritize companies that put the largest numbers of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus and employers that retaliate against workers who exercise rights protected by federal law or make complaints about unsafe or unhealth conditions.

“This deadly pandemic has taken a staggering toll on U.S. workers and their families. We have a moral obligation to do what we can to protect workers, especially for the many who have no other protection,” said Jim Frederick, principal deputy assistant secretary of labor in a statement. “This program seeks to substantially reduce or eliminate coronavirus exposure for workers in companies where risks are high, and to protect workers who raise concerns that their employer is failing to protect them from the risks of exposure.”

NEP inspections will enhance the agency’s previous coronavirus enforcement efforts and will include some follow-up inspections of worksites inspected in 2020. The program’s focused strategy ensures abatement and includes monitoring the effectiveness of OSHA’s enforcement and guidance efforts. The program will remain in effect for up to one year, though OSHA has the flexibility to amend or cancel the program as the pandemic subsides.

OSHA has also updated its Interim Enforcement Response Plan to prioritize and detailed the use of on-site and remote workplace inspections. This guidance goes into effect March 18, 2021, until further notice and rescinds the memorandum from May 26, 2020.

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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