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OSHA Extends the National COVID-19 Emphasis Program

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) announced on June 30, 2022 that it would extend its Revised National Emphasis Program for COVID-19 (NEP) until further notice. Originally launched in March 2021, the Program was set to expire on July 7, 2022.

The NEP focuses enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting COVID-19, such as the healthcare industry (i.e., hospitals, home health care, assisted living facilities) and industries where workers are at in increased risk of close contact with one another and the public (i.e., animal processing plants, grocers, restaurants, etc.). A full list of the targeted industries can be found in Appendix A and B of the NEP. The NEP also focuses on employers who engage in retaliation against workers who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions or exercise other rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Specifically, OSHA is temporarily increasing their COVID-19 inspection goal from five percent of inspections to ten percent, while it works to finalize a permanent COVID-19 health care standard.

State Plans

OSHA recognizes that many OSHA-State plans have already implemented several COVID-19 protections. While OSHA strongly encourages all OSHA-State Plans to adopt this NEP, adoption is not mandatory. Instead, a State Plan must notify OSHA within 60 days whether it already has a substantially similar policy in place, intends to adopt new policies and procedures, or does not intend to adopt the NEP.

Next Steps for Employers

Employers should familiarize themselves with OSHA’s COVID-19 NEP, implementing all policies, measures and procedures necessary for compliance with OSHA regulations. Employers are encouraged to visit OSHA’s COVID-19 website for guidance on how to comply with workplace safety requirements.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.