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On Friday, March 12, 2021, in response to the January 21, 2021 Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety, OSHA issued a COVID-19 National Emphasis Program (NEP) to ensure that employees in high hazard industries or work tasks are protected from COVID-19 hazards. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.
OSHA has stated that NEP inspections are intended to 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 from its issuance date, though OSHA has the flexibility to amend or cancel the program as the pandemic subsides.
In a related action, OSHA has also updated its Interim Enforcement Response Plan to prioritize the use of on-site workplace inspections where practical, or a combination of on-site and remote methods. OSHA will only use remote-only inspections if the agency determines that on-site inspections cannot be performed safely. On March 18, 2021, OSHA will rescind the May 26, 2020, memorandum on this topic and this new guidance will go into and remain in effect until further notice.
GCCA encourages you to read more about the COVID-19 National Emphasis Program (NEP) HERE.
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