Seyfarth Synopsis: OSHA has just revised its National Emphasis Program (NEP) for COVID-19. The NEP was first issued on March 12, 2021, to focus on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus, and on employers that “engage in retaliation against employees who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions or exercise other rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
The now revised NEP (DIR 2021-03 (CPL 03), adjusts the targeted industries to those most at risk for COVID-19 exposure, but still includes healthcare and non-healthcare, such as meat and poultry processing. The revised NEP also removes an appendix that provided a list of Secondary Target Industries for the former COVID-19 NEP. For inspections in healthcare, the revised NEP refers compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) to the new directive, DIR 2021-02 (CPL 02), Inspection Procedures for the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, issued on June 28, 2021.
Inspections in non-healthcare establishments will follow procedures outlined in the Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan published July 7, 2021. The updated interim enforcement response plan (IERP) replaces the memorandum dated March 12, 2021. Updates in the July 2021 IERP include:
The goals of the IERP are to identify exposures to COVID-19 hazards, ensure appropriate control measures are implemented, and address violations of OSHA standards and the General Duty Clause. OSHA indicates that the updated IERP will remain in effect until further notice and is intended to be time-limited to the current COVID-19 public health crisis.