On March 12 OSHA released an updated COVID-19 response plan. The following summarizes OSHA’s updated strategy:
- OSHA will continue to implement the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHO) during inspections.
- Pursuant to the March 12, 2021, National Emphasis Program (NEP) for COVID-19, DIR 2021-01 (CPL-03), OSHA prioritized COVID-19-related inspections involving deaths or multiple hospitalizations due to occupational exposures to COVID-19. In addition, the NEP places special emphasis on ensuring employees are protected from discrimination and retaliation.
- Where practical, OSHA will perform on-site workplace inspections:
- OSHA’s goal is to identify exposures to COVID-19 hazards, ensure that appropriate control measures are implemented, and address violations of OSHA standards and the General Duty Clause.
- OSHA will, at times, use phone and video conferencing, in lieu of face-to-face employee interviews, to reduce potential exposures to CSHOs. In instances where it is necessary and safe to do so, in-person interviews shall be conducted.
- OSHA will minimize in-person meetings with employers and encourage employers to provide documents and other data electronically to CSHOs.
- In all instances, Area Directors will ensure that CSHOs are prepared and equipped with the appropriate precautions and personal protective equipment (PPE) when performing on-site inspections related to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.
- To the extent possible, all inspections should be conducted in a manner to achieve expeditious issuance of COVID-19-related citations and abatement.
- In cases where on-site inspections cannot safely be performed (g., if the only available CSHO has reported a medical contraindication), the AD will approve remote-only inspections that may be conducted safely.
- Inspections conducted entirely remotely will be documented and coded N-10-COVID-19 REMOTE.
It remains to been seen if OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). It’s possible this National Emphasis Program will take the place of an ETS, only time will tell.
To view the full contents of the plan, visit OSHA’s website.
If you have questions on COVID-19 in the workplace or need assistance with workplace safety, contact us.