OSHA has announced a national emphasis program geared toward enforcement efforts related to companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting coronavirus. It also prioritizes enforcement efforts for employers that retaliate against workers who file complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
The program will enhance OSHA’s previous COVID-19 enforcement efforts and include some follow-up inspection of sites inspected in 2020. The program will remain in effect for up to one year, however OSHA can amend or cancel the program based on future developments related to the pandemic.
“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,” says Jim Frederick, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “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.”
OSHA also updated its Interim Enforcement Response Plan to prioritize on-site workplace inspections where practical, or a combination of on-site and remote inspections. Remote-only inspections will only be conducted if OSHA determines that on-site inspections cannot be performed safely. This NEP replaces the May 26, 2020, memorandum on enforcement.
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