Based on an evaluation of current inspection and illness data, federal OSHA has revised its March 21, 2021 National Emphasis Program (NEP), adjusting the targeted industries to those most at risk for COVID-19 exposure. The revised NEP still includes healthcare and non-healthcare industries, including meat and poultry processing, but eliminates a prior appendix that provided a list of Secondary Target Industries.
For healthcare industry inspections, the revised NEP refers compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) to a new directive, Inspection Procedures for the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, issued on June 28, 2021.
Inspections in non-healthcare facilities will follow procedures outlined in the Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan (IERP) published on July 7, 2021. Highlights include:
- Enforcing protections for workers who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated;
- Where respirator supplies and services are readily available, full enforcement of the Respiratory Protection Standard;
- Updated instructions and guidance to CSHOs for handling COVID-related complaints; and
- Ensuring workers are protected from retaliation under relevant Whistleblower regulations.
The IERP will be in effect indefinitely but is intended to be limited to the COVID public health crisis.