OSHA Adopts National Emphasis Program (NEP) in Lieu of Adopting Emergency Temporary Standards to Address COVID in the Workplace

Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP

On March 15, OSHA adopted an NEP in response to President Biden’s Executive Order directing the agency to come up with a national program for COVID-19 enforcement priorities.  The NEP directs OSHA to conduct programmed inspections at work sites where employees have a higher frequency of close contact exposures and COVID outbreaks.  Industries targeted for heightened scrutiny fall into two categories:  (1) establishments in certain NAICS Codes which OSHA has identified as having higher rates of exposure; or (2) industries having an elevated illness rate based upon 2020 OSHA illness reporting data.  Many NAICS Codes on the list are related to health care, but also include meat processing, poultry processing, grocery stores, restaurants and certain manufacturing operations.  The NEP is scheduled to be in effect for 12 months from the date of publication.

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